Central Bank Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has extolled the Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah for expanding and modernizing the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, saying that the new structure will catalyze the rapid growth of northern economy.
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He also commended the plan of the Federal Government to build a dry and perishable cargo terminal in Kano, saying that it would give farmers a direct link to both domestic and international market where they would maximize earnings for their produce.
The CBN Governor stated these at the weekend when he commissioned the newly remodelled international terminal at MAKIA, Kano State. According to him, the cargo terminal, which construction would start this month, would rekindle interest in agriculture which is the pivot of the economic growth of the northern region and the highest employer of labour in the area and in the whole country.
"For me, as an economist and as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria; that (dry and perishable cargo terminal) is the most important and visionary step that the Aviation Minister has taken.
"Airports are not just to carry human beings from Lagos to Kano; it is not just there to make travel easy and comfortable experience for individuals," he noted. Continuing, he said: "Kano is an agricultural state. It used to contribute 60 per cent of the total revenue of the northern region. The only way agriculture is going to come back is for farmers to be linked to the markets. I will give you a simple example; I have had the benefit of looking through some tomato survey, feasibility study.
"There was somebody that I consulted and he said to me, 'Do you know that tomato actually costs more in Lagos and Port Harcourt than in London?' In other words, if a farmer can produce tomato in Kadawa and put it on a plane every morning in Kano to get to Lagos or Port Harcourt he should earn more than you will get it in the supermarket in the UK."
He also extolled the government for awarding a contract for the building of another international airport in Kano, Abuja, Lagos, Enugu and Port Harcourt, expressing hopes that the projects, when completed will transform the nation's economy. He said the audacious airport projects in Kano and other cities is an assurance that the government wants to use aviation as a fulcrum to turnaround the fortunes of the country.
He berated those who alleged that the Minister did not want international air operations at the Kano airport, saying that if it were so, government would not be building or commissioning international airport facility in Kano. "For those who may believe that the Ministry of Aviation does not want international airlines to come to Kano, the question is, if the Ministry didn't want international airlines to come to Kano, why would they be building an international terminal? So, building an international terminal will take as evidence of a commitment to encourage the airlines to come."
Sanusi noted that the Federal Government has approved Emirates and Turkish Airlines to operate from the Kano airport: "We will continue to work with you and we are sure you will continue to encourage other airlines to come back. This was an airport that had KLM, Etihad, British Airways; in fact, BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) a long time ago and British Caledonian.
"As the airlines come back, as agriculture recovers, as the economy recovers, we see more and more international airlines come to the city," the Governor of CBN said.