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Senate tackles FAAN boss over N64bn runway for Abuja airport

By Emmanuel Aziken
The Senate Committee on Aviation has summoned the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, to explain the basis for approving N64 billion for a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The summon followed interaction between the committee and FAAN officials on the utilisation of the internally-generated revenue of the authority for 2010 during which the FAAN boss had proclaimed the amount as justifiable.

The committee had during the interaction expressed concern that the N64bn proposed for the construction of a second runway was the highest in the world as it claimed that the amount was more than sufficient to construct a new airport from the ground.

The committee said information at its disposal indicated that similar projects in India, Helsinki, Finland and even Gombe State cost less, a statement issued by the Committee Clerk, Mr. Victor Aborishade, on the meeting noted.

“You mean that it’s costing Nigeria over N63bn to do a runway, not a new airport? You can come to us with the details later, but we want you to justify why Nigeria should spend about N64bn, not for a brand new airport; against the background report that it cost 6.99 billion in Djibouti, even Gombe here, N7.5 billion, India, Helsinki 2.14 billion… Tell us why Nigeria should spend this much,” Senator Anyim Ude, the committee chairman was quoted as saying.

Responding, the Chief executive of FAAN said the project was justifiable, having been conceived out of a very strong necessity. He said the existing runway built 28 years ago had developed ‘alligator cracks’ and could not take the intensive traffic density. He explained that the project was based on the concept of design and construct.

According to Aisuebeogun, “The figure is justifiable. We actually used a renowned consultant for the pre and post consulting work of this runway…We have the Due Process Certificate. It’s absolutely justifiable,” he maintained.

The FAAN boss, however, requested to be given a new date to appear before the Committee with prepared documents.

Meanwhile, the Committee has asked the aviation parastatals and agencies to repackage their internally- generated revenue submissions for the year to include executive summaries, in order to make them easy to understand.

Senator Ude advised them to desist from the usual format “where you load us with big grammar and figures”.

He said the new format should show the capital projects approved for them in 2009; how many of them were completed; at how much? How many are on-going? How many have not taken-off and why?

The Committee Chairman also directed the agencies to relate the facts of 2009 to what they wanted the Committee to approve for them this year.


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