From Minna Int’l to Bola Ahmed Tinubu Airport: A new era begins, say FAAN

The transformation and rechristening of the old Minna International Airport to Bola Ahmed Tinubu International Airport has been described as a new vista in partnerships and the viability of airport operations.

The remodelling, a partnership between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Niger State Government, aims to drive domestic passenger and agro-cargo services.

Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the Managing Director/Chief Executive (MD/CE) of FAAN, Gbenga Olorunpomi, said it was clear on the day of the reopening that something had changed at the almost 34-year-old airport, with a brand-new domestic terminal sitting at the middle of the facility.

Olurunpomi recalled that on the day the refurbished airport opened, the MD/CE of FAAN, Olubunmi Kuku, upon landing at the airport, proceeded on an inspection tour of the terminal.

“The Acting Airport Manager and the project contractor led her on the tour. For a considerable amount of time, she 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 always kept cool and that protocol officers be on the alert to provide information to airport users,” he said.

She proceeded to meet with the host of the day and other dignitaries and then went on to welcome the guest of the day, President 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.

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 Umar Mohammed Bago, the state plans to use airport facilities to transport its produce nationwide 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.

This is in line with 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 has been hitherto under-utilised, now will shore up revenues for both Niger State and FAAN.

These are the sort of partnerships the FAAN MD/CE is interested in. Her turnaround mindset is at full function in FAAN, and this is simply a sign that she is on the right track.

Speaking at the event, Kuku said: “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 N3.6 trillion 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 this project.

“These strategic partnerships reflect FAAN’s dedication to economic development and export facilitation. By maximising under-utilised assets like the land, FAAN aims to drive revenue growth and bolster Nigeria’s economy through innovative projects and collaborations.”

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