The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said it has no record of a passenger airport located at Wasimi, Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The Director General, Musa Nuhu, stated this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation on Tuesday.
He also informed the panel that necessary approval was granted by the agency for the construction of the proposed Gateway Agro Cargo Airport in Ilishan-Remo, Ikenne Local Government Area of the state – off the busy Sagamu-Ijebu Ode Express Road.
This comes on the heels of disagreement between the state governor, Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, currently a senator, Ibikunle Amosun, regarding which of the airports should be prioritised.
While the former is pushing for the construction of an airport in Sagamu, the latter would rather have one in Wasimi constructed.
The controversy started when the committee visited the sites of the two proposed airports with both men trying to convince members of the panel to ensure that their preferred projects are included in the federal budget.
The Sagamu airport which was conceived to support the state’s agricultural production, was initiated by the former governor, Gbenga Daniel in 2007.
He had commenced work on the airport but did not complete it. After assuming office, his predecessor, Mr Amosun, initiated a different airport, the international airport located in Wasimi – abandoning the cargo airport project.
But the NCAA boss said the agency had no file about a Cargo Airport currently being constructed in Wasimi, Ogun State with about N2 billion was said to have been approved for its take off in the 2021 budget. The agency only has record of the Sagamu Cargo Airport, he said.
When asked whether NCAA had any record giving approval for the establishment of Wasimi Cargo Airport, Mr Nuhu said: “I asked and I was told that there is no such document with NCAA.”
While he said he had no knowledge of the Wasimi airport project, Mr Nuhu added that the state can, as a matter of fact, construct two airports.
“I have seen an approval from the Ministry of Aviation for the Wasimi Project. But in my records or in the NCAA, I don’t have anything.
“It is not in our purview to determine for a state or any entity the number of airports they want to have. All we will do is to ensure that any airport built must comply with our regulatory requirements. That is our function,” he said.
The Chairman of the Senate panel, Smart Adeyemi, said the Ogun State Government had capacity to manage two airports.
Tolu Odebiyi, a member of the panel, said the NCAA was part of the project and the necessary approval was sought and given for Wasimi. He said it impossible to put the agency in the dark about the project.
Adeola Olamilekan, a member of the panel, confirmed that documents submitted by the NCAA showed only documents for cargo airport in Sagamu.
“We don’t have any approval for a passenger airport for Wasinmi. Yes, the Minister of Aviation is in the picture but the Senate Committee and NCAA aren’t aware, we don’t have the documents. We have listened to you and you have established that you have record for Sagamu cargo airport, not Passenger airport at Wasinmi.”
The panel however, agreed that the Ogun State Government has the capacity to run both cargo and passengers airports and will submit a report to the Senate to that regard.
Panel commends NCAA
Meanwhile, the committee commended the NCAA DG for grounding the Azman airlines to prevent a potential air accident by – an act it described as “tough but proactive”.
“I think we should thank you (NCAA) for being proactive because the particular airline you grounded was the airline of the president of the operators. But for me the step you have taken might be a bit tough but at least it is better than what may have happened. You deserve our commendation. We are happy that you have properly briefed us and we want to urge you to continue.
“Finally we want to call on the federal government to give more support to the aviation sector. There were palliatives that came after the press conference we had but it is not just good enough. There is still a need to take more steps to support the industry. Once the roads are not safe, then we must take the pains to encourage more people to fly. To me, aviation is critical to our socio-economic stability,” Mr Adeyemi, chairman of the committee, told the NCAA boss.
Mr Nuhu who explained the agency’s reasons for taking the action, said Azman Airline “continuously had maintenance issues and it would be irresponsible and criminal negligence for the agency to keep still.”