Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The deputy minority leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, has charged the Federal Government to reopen the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu and other international airports, for intentional flight operations.
Okechukwu, in a statement, on Sunday, said this is imperative, as many Nigerians in the Diaspora, would be visiting home during the yuletide season.
This is coming on the heels of the plan by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority,( NCAA)Nuhu, to reopen the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and Port Harcourt International Airport, for international flights.
The lawmaker said reopening all the international airports would take care of the multiple stopovers, which exposes people to more risk of COVID-19 than direct flight to their destinations.
Okechukwu argued that since the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had earlier assured that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport had been better equipped for international operations, it made no economic sense for the airport remain shut, after N10 billion in the upgrade.
According to him, “The Christmas and New Year season is the period our international airports are most socially and economically relevant to both Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.
“The opportunity costs of keeping these airports shut from international operations can be quite high, ranging from higher risk of contracting Covid-19 through multiple stopovers to the issues of more man-hours, security risks, and auto crashes associated with compelling more people than necessary to travel by road.
“There are no peculiar health risks peculiar that should warrant the continued restriction of any international air facility from full operations at this time. The PTF and Ministry of Aviation should therefore do all that is necessary to ensure that this is achieved so that Nigerians will not have to suffer unnecessarily. Enough provisions have also been made in the budget; and, in any case, they can always approach the parliament should they need more support, as we are always ready to assist.”