15th November, 2020
By EricJames Ochigbo
Rep. Toby Okechukwu (APC-Enugu), the Deputy Minority Leader, House of Representatives, has called on the Federal Government to immediately reopen the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, for ease of transport during the forthcoming festive period.
Okechukwu, representing Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, also called on the government to reactivate the remaining air facilities to allow international flight operations.
According to him, this call becomes expedient ahead of the Yuletide when Nigerians will like to come home from every part of the world.
He said in a statement in Abuja that multiple stopovers would expose people to more risks than a direct flight to their destinations in a time of pandemic.
The lawmaker said there was no economic wisdom in keeping the airport shut from international operations after investing over N10 billion to upgrade it.
“The Christmas and New Year are the periods when our international airports are most socially and economically relevant to both Nigerians at home and in Diaspora.
“The opportunity cost of keeping these airports shut from international operations can be quite high.
“It ranges 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 roads,” he said.
The lawmaker urged the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) and the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), to take necessary steps to restore full international operations in such airports.
“There is no peculiar health risks 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 has also been made in the budget; in any case, they can always approach the parliament, should they need more support, as we are always ready to assist,” he said.