Good morning Hon. Reading through media reports on your recent trip to Enugu airport, I became deeply worried about the manner of the NASS oversight functions over the development of infrastructure in the aviation sector.
I am worried about the manner of criteria that are used for budget appropriation and subsequent oversight to ensuring that the objectives of the appropriation are met or addressed.
Specifically, the statement credited to your committee about the poor state of Enugu airport terminal building and the runway in particular is seriously an indictment of the NASS and the NCAA whichever way you look at it, debate or defend it.
Hon, it is only three years ago that Enugu was declared as an international airport with fiat. That was the time you were as you still are the chairperson of the House committee on aviation and Senator Hope Uzodinma was the chairman in the Senate and Oduah was the minister of aviation.
The declaration was done without due diligence for certification by the responsible authority, NCAA. As it were, it is doubtful if FAAN was involved in the whole process.
The question that came to the minds of some of us when your committee declared Enugu runway unsafe for flight operations was; what improvement did government put in place on the infrastructure to upgrade the airport in 2014 before it was opened for international flight operation? I raised similar question then to the then minister suggested a review of the Enugu airport aviation security programmes from domestic operation support to international standards.
Speaking specifically on the Enugu airport runway Hon, the runway surface was built with a load classification number (LCN) to carry B 737 aircraft and not the heavier B 767/ 777 that Ethiopian airline operates to the airport. That mainly and the only reason for the runway surface to deteriorate within 3 years of its use by heavier aircraft.
The only thing that the then minister did with political fiat without the technical input from the responsible aviation authority was to extend the length of the runway. That to me was a reckless spending which the NASS could have put under its diligent appropriation oversight and the NCAA, safety oversight, unfortunately, you both neglected those responsibilities.
The result is the call at Enugu by your committee for another spending for the same purpose. It is, only 3 years down after your appropriation for Enugu, you are again thinking of another appropriation for the same purpose.
That to me will be a waste and reckless spending of public money if the runway would not be reconstructed to upgrade the LCN of the runway to carry bigger aircraft load than what it was originally designed to carry. That would require total closure of the airport for about a year or two. International flight operation to the airport should be suspended within this period if we do not want to court any disaster.
My advice therefore, is that no money should be appropriated for the repair of the Enugu airport runway from the 2018 budget if that is the aim of your visit to the airport without considering my suggestions.
Group Capt. John Ojikutu(rtd), is the Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Security and the General Secretary of Aviation Round Table(ART)writes from Lagos.