Aviation Minister dismisses reports, denies being anti-North

Posted by News Express, Abuja | 29 August 2012 | 3,690 times

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Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, has dismissed insinuations that she is anti-North and had refused permission to certain international airlines to extend their operations to certain airports in the north of the country.

The minister in a statement signed on her behalf by her Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Joel Obi, denied publications (not in News Express) that she ordered some foreign airlines, particularly Emirates, Etihad and Turkish airlines to be stopped or prevented from operating into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

“There is no truth whatsoever to this publications as the minister had at no time even attempted to prevent the said airlines from operating into the said destinations. To the contrary, the minister has been an advocate of allowing all the international airports in the country to operate direct international flights,” the statement released this evening in Abuja, the Nigerian capital said. I added:

Given the wrong impression created in the media on this issue and the sentiments it is currently generating, it has become necessary to state as follows:

*Emirates Airline has never applied for any permit to operate into either Abuja or Kano international airports. Anyone, including the airline concerned with contrary documentation should please make such available to the general public

*Etihad that was supposed to commence operations from Abuja in line with an old MOU of 2003 with the UAE has refused to do so but rather insisted on starting from Lagos, thereby necessitating an amendment of the MOU IN 2012 to accommodate their desire

*Turkish Airline had in fact applied to operate into Abuja and Kano, an application which the Honourable Minister approved without any hesitation. In fact, IRS Airlines was nominated on the 1st of August 2012 to work with Turkish airline in this regard.

In view of the foregoing, we make haste to declare that we have no records anywhere indicating that the Aviation Minister either stopped any airline from operating into Abuja and Kano or forced any particular one to operate into the Enugu International Airport. To be sure, the Hon. Minister has been making strenuous efforts to convince KLM, in conjunction with the Kano state government, to continue to operate into Kano airport for which it had earlier stopped its operations.

Unfortunately, some commentators, relying entirely on the unfounded news reports, have begun to insinuate ethnic agenda over the purported directive to forced airlines to fly into Enugu rather than Abuja or/and Kano. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Perhaps, it is pertinent, given the sentiments the false publications has generated to state that the very first tangible projects embarked upon by the current Aviation Minister was the rehabilitation of the Kano and Kaduna Hajj Terminals. The terminals have since been completed, commissioned and put to use. The Sokoto Hajj terminal is currently under-going rehabilitation too.

Moreover, out of the 11 airports currently being reconstructed and remodelled simultaneously across the country, five are domiciled in the northern part of the country. The 11 airports include MMIA and the GAT Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin, Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Yola and Jos airports. Therefore, it is clearly inappropriate to insinuate that the Aviation Minister is anti-North.

*Aviation Minister, Oduah-Ogiemwonyi

Source: News Express

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