Upon resumption of legislative duties for the year 2017, senators expressed their reservation and subsequently kicked against moves by the Federal Government to divert flights from Abuja Airport to Kaduna Airport citing security concerns.
The Federal Government had fixed March 6, for the closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja for the repairs of the airport runway.
Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo) and five others moved a motion on the matter.
Uzodinma said the planned six weeks outright closure of the only airport in the nation’s Capital city can trigger untold hardships on international and local air travellers and consequently dent the nation’s image.
He said the logistics and security challenges the diversion of Abuja-bound flights to Kaduna will throw up, including endangering the lives and properties of international and local air travellers who will be forced to travel by land from Kaduna to Abuja.
In their separate contributions, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, Senator Dino Melaye and Senator Barnabas Gemade kicked against the diversion.
Ekweremadu who listed the major kidnap cases recorded on Kaduna-Abuja road last year said the diversion would expose airline passengers to kidnappers.
Senator Anyanwu on his part, said kidnappers are aware of the plan, saying “they read Newspapers, they will re-strategise. I will not hand myself to kidnappers”.
Opposing his colleagues, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) said there was nothing wrong in the proposed diversion saying “From the contributions to the motion, Nigerian political elites, always try to run away from the problem they created. What I observed is that we created a hell for Nigerians and we want to live in Paradise.
“This motion is an attempt to deny the passengers the opportunity of seeing the beautiful landscape of Kaduna. We in Kaduna are ready for the passengers.”
The Senate resolved to invite the minister of transportation, minister of state (Aviation) minister of works, power and housing, Chief of Air Staff and heads of other relevant agencies in the sector.
The officials are to meet with the Senate within two days to provide details on the planned closure as well as to explore other options that can avoid a total closure of the Airport.
In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki condemned the proposal. “Where else in the world would they do things like this? We must ensure we do the right thing. The idea of the closure is not the right thing,” he said.