By Nuel Suji, Abuja – The Senate on Wednesday rejected the N64 billion contract sum proposal for the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, calling for a review.
The Senate also advised that due process and diligence be followed in the design, award and procurement of the contract.
Its decision followed a motion by Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West), who argued that the contract sum of N64 billion was unrealistic and should be reduced.
While it acknowledged the urgent need for a second runway at the airport, the Senate resolved that the figure should be cut down.
Mr. Melaye had argued that the proposed cost of the runway was too exhorbitant compared with some airports within and outside Nigeria.
He cited the examples of the terminal 5 in Heathrow Airport, with four lanes of 4km runway, cost less than N25 billion, while the entire Gombe Airport, with 3.66km runways, cost N8.2 billion.
He observed that the Jigawa Airport cost N11 billion, Bauchi Airport, N12 billion, Enugu Airport, N13 billion, while the Akwa Ibom Airport cost about N18 billion.
Mr. Melaye had made similar argument in the 6th Assembly when he was a member of the House of Representatives, leading to the cancellation of the contract by the then Jonathan administration.
“The Federal Government should reduce this unrealistic cost and duly monitor the award process,” Mr. Melaye said.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, agreed that although a second runway was necessary at the Airport, he also objected to the N64 billion proposal.
He said the contract must be executed “at a reasonable price”, adding that “it is important, but we cannot continue with such reckless expenditure.
“We have to let all the MDAs know that those days of recklessness are over and these kinds of figures will not be accepted. In fact, it is not just in aviation, but in all other sectors of the economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Aisha Abubakar, ministerial nominee from Sokoto State.
Ms Abubakar’s nomination had faced serious opposition from the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State who accused President Muhammadu Buhari of contravening the Constitution by her appointment.
Buhari later met with APC stakeholders in the state including the Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
When called forward for questioning Wednesday, the nominee was simply asked to “take a bow” after which she was asked to leave.