The President Muhammadu Buhari led government has approved the use of arms and ammunition by airport security personnel.
This disclosure was made known by the Minister of State (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika, at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday.
The minister said: “We are very serious about aviation security; just last week, the President approved that aviation security should bear arms. So, we are trying to make them take the form and shape of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the United States (U.S.) with K-9 dogs, handcuffs, the guards, the batons, light weapons, etc.
“The minister of interior is helping us in that regard with the directive of Mr. President. They are partnering with us and other stakeholders to keep our airports secure. All these will be unveiled at the next stakeholders meeting.”
Sirika also stated that the Federal Government will not be going back on the planned shutting down of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja – for six weeks for turn-around maintenance that would last for for six months.
Alternatively, it has resorted to using Kaduna airport which it said is currently undoing renovation for the purpose.
He said: “The airport will be totally closed for six weeks, the construction and rehabilitation work is for six months. Within six months, there is a window of six weeks that the airport will be closed.
“It is important we inform you guys that whether we shut down now or not, the runway is on its way to shutting down itself. We are all witnesses to how Port Harcourt shut itself. The runway was folding
like mat, it was caving in like deep gully erosion and FAAN was busy patching it until one night it caved in. An Air France plane landed, it destroyed the landing gear and burst the tyres. After the repairs, the airport was closed for two and a half years until recently.
“Lest we forget, if at that time people had taken the appropriate action, probably they would have closed the airport for six weeks rather than two years. So it is extremely important that
when things are bordering on safety we don’t joke about human lives.
“The runway was designed for 20 years to cater for not more than 100,000 people per annum, today it is doing over five million persons per annum and has been there for 34 years.
“So, it is going for 14 years in excess of design. It is not a joke; we are a government and a very sensitive one for that matter. We would not just cause hardship or distortions to the economy for the heck of it. It is a very serious matter and for a very good reason.”