THE POPULAR saying that “Nothing
good comes easy” appears to have
taken a center stage in the controversies
surrounding the proposed Cargo Airport
project launched by the Governor Umaru
Tanko Al-Makura-led administration
in Nasarawa State. There ave been
arguments concerning the necessity
or otherwise of the multi-billion naira
project.
It will be recalled that the idea to have
a Cargo Airport in Lafia, the Nasarawa
State capital which has been conceived
by the state government had received
criticisms from some stakeholders within
and outside the state, especially members
of the Organised Labour who posited
that the project could not be a priority at
this time when workers are owed salaries
for months, even as many others have
described the project as necessary and
timely.
Despite the divergent views on the
suitability or otherwise the project, the
dream for the airport initially came
to fruition on October 15, 2015, when
the people of the state went to the
Government House, Lafia, to give their
blessings to what they described as a long
awaited airport project. It was when the
Memorandum of Understanding, MoU,
for its construction was signed between
the state government and a Chinese firm,
Tongyi Group. The federal government
recently renewed its approval on project.
The federal government, through the
Minister of Aviation, expressed its total
support for the project when Governor
Al-Makura paid a visit to the minister in
his office in Abuja. That eventually put to
rest insinuations in some quarters that the
federal government had turned down the
request by the state government to have
the airport constructed in the state.
Answering questions from journalists
during a tour of some government facilities
in Lafia recently, Governor Al-Makura noted
that the airport project would be executed in
phases; first, to accommodate smaller aircrafts
after which the runway tarmac will be
expanded 2.4 kilometer length to 4 kilometers
for the successful landing and takeoff of other
commercial aircrafts.
He explained that the airport will not only
serve the purpose of commercial activities
of the rich but also serves as alternative
emergency landing to Abuja internatinal
airport given the state’s proximity to Tge FCT.
He also asserted that if the airport had been
in place, the current overhaul of the Nnamdi
International Airport and the challenges of
locating the nearest airport for passengers’
convenience would have been minimized
with the presence of the Lafia Airport.
Already, an Environmental Impact
Assessment Panel (EIA) set up by the Federal
Ministry of Environment had visited the
proposed site for the project to ascertain
its suitability or otherwise. The panel
also organized a town hall meeting with
inhabitants of the area and other stakeholders
which outcome was positive.
The governor had insisted that the
airport construction embarked upon by his
administration was not a luxury project but
one that would add value to the economic
wellbeing and revenue base of the state. He
stressed that the project was coming at a
time when states were being encouraged to
diversify their sources of revenue in order
to remain viable in the face of dwindling
allocation from the federation account.
“The cargo airport project will be a fulcrum
for effective development which will serve
to boost economic activities and generate
revenue for the state”.
Al-Makura was optimistic that the project,
when completed, will offer both cargo and
civil aviation services, will complement
the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport
which is the only airport in and around the
FCT, as according to him there would be a
road network to link the FCT and the airport
which will take only an hour to navigate
as opposed to over three hours to Kaduna
airport which is currently the closest to the
FCT.
The proximity of the Solid Minerals
State to the Federal Capital Territory was
according to the Governor one of the reasons
he envisaged a cargo airport for the state
which he noted, would provide services to
the nation’s capital that no one else could
provide.
“I had always nursed an idea of having
an airport in the state with a simple logic.
For instance, when you go to Washington
DC in the United States of America, USA,
it has about four to five airports. With all
our developments as a nation and also as
a government with all the facilities and the
opportunities in the FCT, we have only
one airport.”
Stakeholders are of the trust that the
airport project would not only boost the
economy of the state and the neighboring
states that are in the belt of the food basket
of the nation but the nation at large.
To the Nasarawa State traditional
council, the signing of the MoU for the
project between the two parties would
bring about enormous economic benefits
to the people of the state when finally
constructed.
Chairman of the traditional council and
Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Isa Mustapha Agwai
II, then told personnel of Tongyi Group,
the contracted firm handling the airport
project that, “I, on behalf of the entire
members of the state traditional council,
assure you of an absolute safety of your
lives and property as you embark on this
gigantic project.
“Moreover, the traditional council
would as well be fervently praying for
the firm in order that its activities in the
state are safe to deliver the project in
consonance with the terms of agreement.”
Basking in the euphoria of an assured
safety of the firm’s human and capital
resources while carrying out its activities
in the state, the chairman of Tongyi
Group, Mr. Algreen Zheng, who was full
of joy for harnessing the airport project of
the state, expressed appreciation to the
government and people of the state for
given the firm that opportunity.
He noted: “When the airport is finally
completed, it will, no doubt, provide
convenience to both the people of
Nasarawa state and the neighboring
states that are in the belt of the food basket
of the
nation, as well as the FCT. Hitherto, Mr.
Zheng promised to deliver the airport
project according to specifications.
When Nigerian Pilot sampled opinions
of few residents of the state over the
governor’s step for a Nasarawa airport,
they were all appreciative of what they
described as a gigantic stride that would
improve the economy of the state
Abdullahi Osabo, an applicant, was
optimistic that the airport project will offer
job opportunities to many unemployed
youths in the state, in addition to boosting
commercial activities thereby creating
wealth to residents when completed.
On her part, a Lafia based food vendor,
Mrs. Lucy Atsongo, believed that the
construction of an airport in the state,
particularly that of a cargo type, would
attract both local and foreign investors
that would
come to harness the abundant
agricultural produce and other resources
in the mining subsector of the economy
that are wasting for onward export
thereby creating revenues for the local
populace in the North Central zone of the
country and beyond.


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