Nwuba: New airports critical for future economic development

President of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria/former Chief Executive Officer, of Associated Airlines, Dr. Alex Nwuba has thrown his weight behind the proliferation of airports in the country, saying in the future this will act as a critical way for the development of the economy.

Nwuba who spoke to Aviation Metric on the sidelines of a book launch entitled, “Travel Agency Operations in Nigeria” authored by a respected travel expert, Elder Olusoji Amusan in Lagos said while it may look like they are making mistakes today, the mistakes are a platform on which the country will grow in terms of infrastructure and movement of goods.

Ebonyi International Airport

His words, “It is a temporary situation, you have an airport and you need to know what you can do with the airport. You haven’t thought through what you can do with it. The airport is a great place for a number of economic activities.”

“You hear the Minister talk about Aerotropolis, but unfortunately because they haven’t thought through the process; they are calling it cinemas and shopping centres. They are a great opportunity to produce something.

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“The Aerotropolis can support an industrial base and manufacturing for both domestic and international markets. Nigeria aviation is an economy that will grow whether the agricultural produce from the farm or we are turning them to juice or turning them into fresh produce to be exported”.

“We need airports to get those things out of that location to another state, region, or country. We must not forget staring us in the face is the African Continental Free Trade Area and we are signatories to that; we are also signatories to the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM). What does that mean? It means that we either consume in that economy or we produce”.

He noted that these airports would act as where these produce can be exported in various forms, stressing that while the short-term situation is there, promoters of these aerodromes did not think through their plans. To him, they just build fancy airports that are proliferated everywhere.

“Because it is big now it looks good, in the future when demands go it will be there to meet our needs and of course, it will cost a lot more to build in the future than it is built now. We have seen that happen before. Look at how much it costs to build roads that cost nothing more. While they are making mistakes today and I believe their mistakes are a platform on which we will develop a greater and better Nigeria,” he added.

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In Nigeria, airports are springing up at an alarming rate. In fact, cities of less than 100 kilometers are now been connected by air through aerodromes that state governments are constructing; one as a tool for winning elections, attracting economic prosperity to their states amid insinuations in some quarters that many chief executive officers in states see it as a veritable means of siphoning states’ resources.

Though the establishment of airports as critical air transport infrastructure falls within the purview of the Federal Government, making such venture viable, intrinsically, rests on the shoulders of managers in the domains they are cited. This, every so often, continues to be tasking.

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In the next five years, virtually all the states in Nigeria will have at least an aerodrome. Never mind that many of them might not be completed while others could become abandoned projects.

While many hitherto abandoned airports have seen life breathed into them, states like Ebonyi Ogun and Ekiti airports among others are seeing neck-break speed to ensure that they are completed.

Anambra State

The N1O billion Anambra airport, experts said is a well-thought-out project as the aerodrome is strategically located and one that could draw traffic from Asaba airport and other neighbouring towns. Its proximity to Onitsha which is a business hub in the South East makes it very viable, unlike many others that are said to be a conduit for the alleged siphoning of government funds.

Wole Shadare