Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, says the National Assembly has no powers to halt the planned demolition of offices belonging to agencies doing aviation activities at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
The minister stated this on Wednesday while briefing State House journalists after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
His remarks followed a motion by the Senate directing the government to halt the demolition to allow the Senate committee on aviation, chaired by Biodun Olujimi, to intervene.
Olujimi had drawn the attention of the upper legislative chamber to the warning strike threatened by the Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, and National Association of Aircrafts Pilots and Engineers.
But responding to a question on the matter, Sirika maintained that the Senate resolution was merely advisory and cannot stop the government from doing its work.
“First of all, let’s put it in perspective, the intent of the government is to remove the structure housing the office of the managing director of FAAN and those commercial buildings.
“It’s a structure that is made of wood and has been there for 40 years. It has caught fire twice even during our administration. To give way for better development for what Lagos has become, it is the gateway, we want to put hotels there, shopping malls, offices, cinemas, and the rest of it so FAAN can make more money and the rest of it.
Sirika, who put the number of people occupying the building at about 200, vowed that the government would go ahead with the exercise.
“Senate is advisory, it’s an executive function; we are not bound by any court of law and the government cannot be stopped from giving development to its people.
“Just the other day, some houses were demolished by the Lagos State government in our camp. We have been on that issue for some time; we went up to Supreme Court and won and they had to give way for development. This is in the national interest.
“There’s no individual that can drag it out with the government. If I want to pull down this hall and build a better one, who is going to stop me as a government?
“So, I think it is not an issue; they are just overheating it and you know why. But we have a responsibility and mandate and we are not shying away. We are very bold to do all those things that are good for our people. We are also a very responsive and responsible government, where it will affect the lives of the people, of course, we are going to do it.
“We have been known to do things that better civilization everywhere we go. So, this one also is going to make life very good.
“I’m sure those people that are saying no to it, I’m sure they don’t want to continue to see Lagos airport the way it is. So, few individuals will not deny 250 million Nigerians the joy of having something that they will go outside Nigeria to see. People who go outside and things would say “These leaders don’t they travel? See Dubai? Big deal and now you want to give something like Dubai and somebody is saying no.
The minister, who also spoke on Nigeria Air’s take-off, said: “I think three weeks is a lot of time. Yeah. By the special grace of God, it will fly.
“Don’t forget we didn’t start today. We started this in 2015. We drew up the roadmap, we got the transaction advisors in 2016. Since 2016, we’ve been planning and planning and planning.
According to him, “Many airlines came more than 50 percent of the airline today in Nigeria were licensed by us, by the Buhari’s administration. One of the airlines, United that went to court, we gave them the licence.”