By Danlami Nmodu
There is growing frustration over the ‘stoppage’ of rehabilitation work at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, MAKIA Kano. Many are wondering why the job which is scheduled to be going on along with planned rehabilitation in 11 other airports has been virtually abandoned. Investigations by Newsdiaryonline.com revealed that Kano Airport may have been grounded by a combination of forces ranging from suspected political sabotage to cronyism and the dumb contract award process that preceded the rehabilitation process.
A prominent citizen from Kano while lamenting the hardship the situation is causing said Northern governors and top politicians especially the national assembly members should take the lion share of the blame .Why? He feels they ought to be piling pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that Kano airport is in top shape. As things stand now, the airports has seen better days.
Even more puzzling to those who have been watching the harrowing state if Kano airport is the fact “allocation for its rehabilitation is in the budget. Where is the money? Who are the contractors? We need to ask the BPP(Bureau of Public Procurement and other relevant government agency:Why is this contract not going on?” the observer who is a regular traveler asked.
The situation appears too bad that political conspiracies are being read into the affair. Newsdiaryonline.com has learnt that there is suspicion in some circles that the Kano airport is being deliberately left undeveloped as doubts grow about the future of Nigeria. These suspicions were further bolstered by the failure of government to allow some foreign airlines to operate from Kano.Sources said Emirates Air, Qatar Air and a yet to be confirmed airline sought landing rights in Kano but the authorities denied them .”We also observed that KLM has also stopped operation from Kano”,the source noted.
But the accusation of political sabotage of Kano airport being raised against government officials has been described as rubbish by an insider also of northern extraction.Those who should be probed for their ignoble role in the crippling of the airport may be the ones behind this alleged political theory, the source said.He vehemently told Newsdiaryonline.com that those blaming government officials are missing the point.”Let me tell you,the North should blame itself for the terrible state of Kano Airport.Our leaders should learn to be honest and avoid manipulation of contract process”the source claimed.
According to the insider, the crippling of Kano Airport may not be unconnected with the manipulations that trailed the award of the rehabilitation contract.Newsdiaryonline.com was told that a company which did not perform well during the bidding process got the contract to rehabilitate the airport.Another company which was said to have “scored about 80% or thereabout was denied” .”The fact is that the minister in charge of aviation at the time told everyone that he came under severe pressure from a prominent northern traditional ruler (not from Kano) to award the contract to this company that did not do well in the bidding”, the source said. He added that , “the best way to get what happened is to call for a probe of the circumstances behind the award of contract. Even lawmakers who had interests in the company desperately seeking the contract sabotaged one another to ensure that they had their way.And that was what happened.Now we are paying the price.”
The implication is that northerners or people from the northern part of the country who wish to travel from Kano have to pay more as they are compelled to take connecting flights to Lagos to connect with airline that are not available in Kano.This costs more and it also comes with a lot of inconvenience .
”It is cheaper to travel from Kano to those countries .But you are forced now to buy expensive tickets and take a local flight to Lagos ” a business man said. He also believes that governors and lawmakers need to wake up and ensure that the Northern economy is not crippled by this seeming aborted renovation at Kano airport which has brought activities there to a virtual halt.
It is in the interest of government that the airport functions properly said an aviation activist.This will not only generate more income for the federal government, even the states will benefit from increased revenue just as the citizens will benefit -because the airlines if allowed to resume work – will also employ workers .
“The crippled state of Kano airport is resulting in economic losses to both government and the citizens and it is high time we interrogated our governors and lawmakers so that they wake up to their responsibilities”, an activist said.