Intrigues over renaming of 15 airports after prominent Nigerians

‘Tinubu reaffirmation commendable’


The renaming of 15 airports by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu after prominent Nigerians has led to confusion as to who exactly took the glory for honouring some prominent citizens with some aerodromes across the country.

It would be recalled that two days before former President Muhammadu Buhari left office, news broke that the former President had indeed re-named the Akure Airport after Dr Bernard Olumuyiwa Aliu, a former President of the highest global aviation regulatory body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Maiduguri International Airport to be known as Muhammadu Buhari; Port Harcourt International Airport renamed Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo; Ilorin International Airport now known as General Tunde Abdullahi Idiagbon; Ibadan International Airport renamed after Samuel Ladoke Akintola

Port-Harcourt International Airport, Amagwa

Others are Benin International Airport now known as Oba Akenzua II; Dutse International Airport renamed Muhammed Nuhu Sanusi; Ebonyi International Airport, now known as Chuba William Okadigbo; and Gombe International Airport renamed Brigadier Zakari Maimalari. Kaduna International Airport has also been renamed General Hassan Usman Katsina.

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Others are Makurdi International Airport renamed after Joseph Sarwuan Tarka; Minna International Airport renamed after Mallam Abubakar Imam; Nasarrawa International Airport named after Sheikh Usman Danfodio; Osubi International Airport renamed after Alfred Diete Spiff; and Yola International Airport now known as Lamido Aliyu Mustapha Airport.

A source at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said the Ministry of Aviation had made a recommendation to former President Muhammadu Buhari for his approval a few days before his exit from office.

The source further stated that the former President was overwhelmed with so many memoranda for his approval for many things that needed his attention but because of lack of time, the President could not give his approval.

Unknown to many in the Ministry of Aviation that the former President had not signed or approved the requests, they rushed to the media to announce that Buhari had indeed given his approval for the renaming of the 15 aerodromes.

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To show that nothing of the sort happened, the administration of President Bola Tinubu received a memo to the renaming of the airports in a letter dated June 19, 2023, entitled, “Renaming of Federal Airports in favour of some prominent Nigerians”, addressed to all the HOD read in part, “I am directed to refer to a memo with reference number, FMA/T4464/7090/T7B/647 dated June 2023 from the Federal Ministry of Aviation on the renaming of some federal airports after notable Nigerians”.

“Kindly be informed that the underlisted airports have been renamed by the President as part of the reforms of the aviation sector.”

Another source said there was a need for the outgoing government to have coordinated well with the new administration for seamless handling of sensitive issues.

He however praised the new government of President Tinubu for re-affirming the recommendation of the past administration to immortalize notable Nigerians that have done exceedingly well for the country by renaming important monuments after them.

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There are indications that many other airports under construction in Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, and other places could also be gearing up for naming after prominent Nigerians.

Many of the airports that have sprung up in the past five years have underscored the high rate at which state governments are building airports, thereby giving the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) a heavy blow to its finances.

Osubi airport

Of over 34 airports across the country, only the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Port-Harcourt International Airport, and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

The revenue from these four viable airports is spent to maintain these other aerodromes; the reason some of these airports lack good airport facilities.

Wole Shadare