Replicate Abuja Airport Runway Success In Other Projects
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport will be formally reopened today after six weeks closure to allow for reconstruction of its runway. The airport, which is the second busiest in the country, after the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, was closed on March 8 and all Abuja bound traffic was diverted to Kaduna State. The minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika had promised that the airport would be reopened on Wednesday April 19. He put his job on the line and promised to resign if he failed to meet the six-week deadline. To show his commitment to get the job done, the minister installed a countdown clock at the airport.
Throughout the duration of the work, the minister supervised the project regularly and gave a minute-by-minute account of work progress at each stage. And at every point, he was optimistic that the goods would be delivered as stated. By Monday April 17, the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) announcd that the repair work on the runway had been completed, just as the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) inspected and certified it ready for use. By the morning of Tuesday April 18, a test flight conveying the minister of state, Sirika, took off from Kaduna and landed in Abuja. This was followed by a brand new Ethiopian Airline Airbus 8350 900 series which landed in Abuja to herald the reopening of the airport.
Signs that things were going to be different this time and that Nigerians were in for a surprise became obvious when the federal government, through the collaboration of its agencies and officials in the Ministry of Works, Housing and Power and the Ministry of Transportation, saw to the timely rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna road and the completion of renovation work on the Kaduna International Airport, preparatory to the shutting down of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The agencies involved also scored a pass mark with the bus shuttle arrangement while the repair works on the Nnamdi Azikiwe international Airport lasted. Free buses were provided to convey passengers at the Abuja and Kaduna airports in addition to free train rides for those who preferred that, provided they showed proof of being an airline passenger. The security arrangement on the Abuja Abuja-Kaduna road was also remarkable, with no reported incidents for the six-week period.
We find it reassuring that at a time in the country when many citizens have become cynical due to the inability of the government to begin and complete projects, as evident in the multitude of uncompleted government projects scattered across the country, this minister showed the difference by not only completing the job, but doing so even before the set date. As has become the case with anything that has to do with the government, not a few Nigerians doubted the ability of the federal government to complete the repair works and reopen the airport in six weeks. That it has been done only goes to show that with commitment and purposeful action, agencies of government can work and deliver their mandates. It is not rocket science. The inter-agency cooperation by relevant agencies which resulted in the timely reopening of the Abuja airport goes to show that with the right attitudes and commitment by various government agencies, a lot can be achieved.
We urge the federal government to build on the success of this experiment and replicate such purposeful actions that led to this feat to all spheres of governance. Other projects of national interest, especially roads which have become death traps must be treated with the same sense of urgency as in the case of the airport. Officials of the Ministry of Transportation, particularly the aviation minister, must not rest on their oars lest the success recorded becomes a flash in the pan. They should build on the momentum by completing ongoing works at the Kaduna airport and the remodelling of the Abuja airport. The Port Harcourt International Airport is another mess that needs to be cleared urgently.
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