Gov. Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State has decried the paucity of funds to keep the state-owned airport functional.
Yahaya, who stated this in Gombe while briefing Members of the Joint Committee on Aviation, said it had become difficult for the government to cope with the financial burden of keeping the airport in good shape.
He said the resources for maintaining the airport facility was competing with the ones needed for developmental projects that would benefit the people.
“We finance the airport and its operation and it is becoming cumbersome on the state government, especially in view of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
The governor also decried the meagre income from the federal allocation saying “we are among the lowest earning states in terms of federal allocation.
“That makes it necessary for us to look for ways by which we can relief ourselves and leverage on what we get to put in development that affect the lives of the people.
“we are very proud of what we are doing and whatever we are doing is touching on the lives of the people.
“If the Federal Government takes over this airport, we will leverage on whatever we get and do more for the people. We believe the airport will operate better,’’ Yahaya said.
He said with the geographical position of Gombe state in the Northeast, the service of the airport had become national and international.
”This is because through our boundaries you can access Cameroon and Chad or even Niger Republic,” he added.
Yahaya stated that the state government needed support to ensure that the airport was made standard and to upgrade the facilities to make it cargo or international airport for the Northeast.
The governor said he was ready to support all efforts that would translate into turning the facility into a standard airport for the benefit of the good people of the Northeast.
Earlier, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, said members were in the state for a `flying visit’ to assess the condition of the airport facility.
“We are here to have a true picture of the needs and challenges of each of the airport in Nigeria. And come out with a position on what the Federal Government should do to improve the airports.’’
According to Adeyemi, since Gombe state airport is strategically located in the northeast sub-region, there was a need for serious attention from the federal government.
He said that aviation was key to socio-economic development of any nation, as it “is the life of the nation today as no nation can talk about economic prosperity without the aviation industry.’’
On their assessment of the airport, Adeyemi said “the facilities here seem to be obsolete, some of them are outdated. There is a need for proper funding for this airport.
He added that one of the major requirements for airport was adequate water supply which according to him is lacking, and“ quite disturbing.’’
Also speaking, Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Aviation, said discussion had began and would be strengthened for the federal government to take-over the airport.
“We believe that will enhance the facility as there will also be a need for cargo terminal and the other facilities around the airport. Airport is all about safety and security.
“It is important, there is air-foot lightening to boost operations especially at night. There is need for upgrade of the facility and the governor requested that it should be taking-over by the federal government.
“We believe that the federal government should take it over because of its commercial activity and strategic location in the northeast sub-region.’’