*hosts National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation
By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya says his administration will work with the National Assembly and relevant authorities to ensure the take over and standardization of the Gombe Airport by the Federal Government such that the state can leverage on what it generates to provide more services to the people.
According to a statement signed by the Director-General (Press Affairs) Government House Gombe, Ismaila Uba Misilli, Governor Inuwa Yahaya stated this when he granted audience to members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation led by Senator Smart Adeyemi and Hon. Nnoli Nnaji, Chairmen of Senate and House of Representatives committees on Aviation respectively.
The Governor described the services rendered by the Gombe Airport as National and International and therefore aligned with standardization of the airport through its complete take over by the Federal Government since the State does not have enough resources to do so.
He said any improvement on the Gombe Airport is not only to the State economy and social wellbeing but that of the North East sub-region and the country as a whole.
“We shall go to any length to see that we get reprieve with this Airport and to see that there is an improvement on it for the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The Governor described the mission of the National Assembly Joint committee on Aviation to Gombe as a milestone for the people of the State and by extension the entire country, saying of all the previous efforts by successive administrations that changed the fortunes of Gombe and brought the state to limelight, the Airport stands out as one undisputed asset.
He however observed that despite the development the Gombe Airport brought to the State, the facility has placed huge financial burden on the state because Government has consistently supported and funded it since establishment.
“We financed the establishement of the Airport and we are equally financing its operations and is becoming very cumbersome on the State Government, especially in view of the current financial squeeze occasioned by covid-19 and the downturn of the economy that affect Gombe State”.
He said the Gombe Airport, which is very strategic in view of our location, has continuously served the people of the State and Nigerians in different capacities, noting that the last of such services was the movement of the covid-19 vaccine to the State.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya said his earlier interface with the Chairmen of the Aviation committees of the Senate and House of Representatives was aimed at pushing for take over of the facility by the Federal Government in order to standardize the facility and remove its burden on the state Government.
He noted that being the second to the last on the Federation allocation table, Gombe needs all the support it can get to relief itself from its financial burden and leverage on the resources therein to provide services to the people.
“We are very proud of what we are doing, this is a government of change, it is a government of reform and whatever we are doing is touching on the lives of the people, so if the Federal Government takes this Airport we shall leverage on whatever we get to do more for the people and the Airport in particular and the aviation sector in general will do better”.
The Governor told his guests that only recently the Nigerian Airforce embarked on setting up of a forward operational base in Gombe, known as combat reconnaissance group, owing to the centrality of the State in the North East and the advantages the State has in military operations especially in a region plagued by insurgency.
Earlier speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi said they were in the State to inspect the Gombe Airport and to have a true picture of its challenges because as legislators they have the mandate to look at the budget and call the attention of the Federal Government on areas of needs.
He said the Aviation industry plays a key role in the socio-economic development of any nation, hence the need for the NASS members to embark on facility tours across the country with a view to coming up with legislative interventions that will see to improving and securing airports across the country.
Senator Adeyemi commended the progressive disposition of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya which he said is evident in the well built roads network and layouts as well as cleanliness of the state capital among other developmental strides by his administration. Also speaking, the Chairman, House committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnoli Nnaji described the presence of the Airport in Gombe as very important and strategic considering the centrality of the State in the North East subregion.
He said the National Assembly Joint committee will spare no effort towards ensuring that the Federal Government takes over the Airport so that it can be improved upon to have a cargo terminal.
The National Assembly members were later led on a facility tour of the local and international wings of the Airport by Gombe state Deputy Governor, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau.