Historic Reopening of Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport

The Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Gbenga Olorunpomi, recently captured the efforts made by the agency to rejuvenate the now, Bola Ahmed Tinubu Airport, Minna through infrastructural renewal and the installation of critical facilities to make it ready for resumption of service.

Olorunpomi said: “As high and relentless the Minna sun was, so were the spirits of the staff and management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria along with the people and government of Niger State. The date was 11th March 2024 and it was the historic reopening of the Minna International Airport, now rechristened the Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport, Minna.

“It was clear that something had changed at this almost 34-year-old airport. Right in the middle was a brand-new domestic terminal built in record time through a partnership between FAAN and the Niger State Government, led by the charismatic Farmer Governor, Hon. Umar Mohammed Bago.”

Olorunpomi recalled that the Managing Director/Chief Executive of FAAN, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku, upon landing at the airport, proceeded on an inspection tour of the terminal. She was led on the tour by the acting Airport Manager and the project contractor, noting that for a considerable amount of time, went around the facility, ensuring everything was up to code.

“As someone with an eye for excellence, she had questions wherever they went, lavishing praise on some and constructive criticism on other focal areas. Her passion for passenger comfort was evident as she insisted that the waiting areas be kept cool at all times and that protocol officers be alert to provide information to airport users. She proceeded to meet with the host of the day and other dignitaries and then went on to welcome the guest of the day, His Excellency, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“Following the presidential handshakes, it was time to officially declare the airport open. At this point, the President and other dignitaries proceeded to perform the second function of the day- the launch of the Agricultural Mechanisation of Niger State,” he said.

Olorunpomi also said: “For the FAAN MD/CE, this event was significant for her in two ways: the first being that the event took place right on the Minna Airport grounds, with a substantial part of the land allocated to the state government for agricultural activities. The second, which is also tied to the first and critical to the aspirations of Mrs. Kuku, is to increase government revenue by making Nigerian airports properly positioned and equipped to export perishable goods.”

According to Governor Bago, the state plans to use airport facilities to transport their produce across the country in quick time. He thanked FAAN for providing quality guidance for the intervention and rehabilitation of the Airport to a global standard. He appreciated President Bola Tinubu for approving this airport as a special Agro Processing Free Zone for greenhouses; dairy and meat processing, and Agro Processing storage, aggregation, and other value chain development components.

He said this was in line with Mrs. Kuku’s vision for FAAN, where there is optimal use of their assets to grow revenue exponentially and sustainably. In this case, the land around the Minna Airport, which have been hitherto underutilised, now will shore up revenues for both Niger State and FAAN.

Olorunpomi remarked that these are the kind of partnerships the FAAN MD/CE is interested in, noting that her turnaround mindset is at full function in FAAN and this is simply a sign that she is on the right track.

While speaking at the event, the Managing Director also stated, “At FAAN, one of our key aspirations is to help grow Nigeria’s economy through the facilitation of exports. We believe that with some investments in the right areas, we can put a huge dent in the N3.6trillion worth of perishable goods lost annually. Therefore, we are excited that the Niger State Governor has promised to complete the cargo and international terminals within a short time. We encourage him to do so as we cannot wait to assist the ambitions of the state to be the biggest food producer and food exporter in the country.

“President Tinubu’s commitment to progress, innovation, and excellence is evident in all his policies and programmes and at FAAN, we are happy to have partnered with the equally visionary leadership of the Niger State Government, ably-led by Governor Bago, on the project.

Olorunpomi also observed that these strategic partnerships reflect FAAN’s dedication to economic development and export facilitation, adding that by maximizing underutilised assets like the land, FAAN aims to drive revenue growth and bolster Nigeria’s economy through innovative projects and collaborations.

“The message is clear, with Mrs. Kuku at the helm, FAAN is now open for business!”

Kuku had also stated at the Minna airport that the Nigerian economy and revenue drive would  receive boost when the proper investments are made into the exportation of food and other perishables via air transportation, adding that FAAN had done much to improve infrastructure at the airport.

“The overhauling of the runway and construction of the passenger terminal in a very short timeline was a daunting task that required much expense and synergy between all parties involved. I am indeed grateful that this project will forever be seen as a symbol of our nation’s dedication to advancing infrastructure, enhancing connectivity, and fostering economic growth. We believe that the Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport, Minna, will serve as a gateway to the world, facilitating trade, tourism, and collaboration on a global scale.

Kuku said renaming the Minna International Airport after President Tinubu was historic and befitting, given the policy direction and implementations by the current administration.

“This occasion not only pays tribute to a visionary leader but also signifies a new chapter in the development of our aviation industry. President Tinubu’s commitment to progress, innovation, and excellence is evident in all his policies and programmes and at FAAN, we are happy to have partnered with the equally visionary leadership of the Niger State Government, ably-led by Governor Bago, on this project. His commitment, drive and close monitoring contributed immensely to seeing this project delivered in record time and for this, we are indeed thankful,” she said.

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