8 November 2012

Nigeria: Northeast's Cargo Airport Taken to Asaba - - Senator

A senator from the Northeast yesterday accused Aviation minister Stella Oduah of locating a cargo airport terminal in Asaba, Delta State, even though it was meant to be built in the Northeast.

The matter came up during a debate in the Senate on a list of projects to be financed with foreign loans the Federal Government is planning to take.

President Jonathan sent the projects list to the National Assembly, asking for it to be included in government's medium term external borrowing plan for 2012-2014.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Ahmed Lawan (ANPP, Yobe North), brought up the cargo terminal matter.

He said over the years, approvals for loans had not been adhered to, and cited an example of the previous borrowing plan in which "each geo-political zone is to have a cargo airport, but the one meant for the North-East has been taken to Asaba, Delta State, in the South-South by the Minister of Aviation.

"We are going to protest this because the money is meant for the entire country," he added.

Reacting, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South), described Lawan's information as incorrect.

"The cargo terminal in Port Harcourt has been there for so many years, and what was in the approved borrowing plan is a cargo terminal, not airport," he said. Apparently to avert tension, Senate President David Mark tactically prevented Lawan from raising a point of order in reaction to Manager's argument.

"I was going to ask the chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West), to find out the matter. I know for sure that if one cargo airport is meant for each geo-political zone, the South-South will not have two when another zone is yet to have one," Mark said.

This was the second time in as many days that Mrs. Oduah's alleged bias against the North is coming up in the Senate.

On Tuesday, Mark asked the Senate Aviation Committee to investigate alleged refusal of the minister to grant permission to some foreign airlines to fly into Kano and Abuja, and instead asked them to go to Enugu.

The House of Representatives also on Tuesday opened a probe of the same allegations against Mrs. Oduah after a lawmaker told his colleagues that she was working against the interests of the North.

The minister had denied the accusations.

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