Katsina State chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), has kicked against the planned relocation of aviation projects from the state to the southern part of the country.
Comrade Bello Shehu, the chairman of the NYCN in the state, condemned the announcement by the Ministry of Aviation and Airspace Development to relocate the multimillion-naira project for refurbishing of Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicles, initially designated for Katsina, to a new location in southern Nigeria.
He said, “A state with an estimated population of over 10 million people with over 50% of it comprising the youth, naturally welcomed the decision to situate the ARFF in Katsina with so much excitement and tremendous expectations. In this case, not for the state alone, but the entire Northwest at large. To receive another news that such a monumental structure will be relocated elsewhere sets us decades backwards in Katsina State and the entire northern region.”
Shehu spoke in response to the letter by AVSATEL Communications Ltd addressed to the Minister of Aviation, dated December 4, 2023. AVSATEL Communications Ltd was awarded the contract to establish a centre for refurbishing Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicles in 2022 “but seemed to have conveniently waited until December of 2023 to suggest that the project is not ideal for Katsina State,” queried the NYCN Chairman, Katsina State Chapter.
He argued that while some of the five major reasons given by AVSATEL were cogent and must be addressed, relocation is not the most viable solution to them. He added, “With most respect to what AVSATEL Communications Ltd has achieved in their claimed 50 years of experience, the only project we can find that they have executed in the Northwest, is the supply of aviation communication equipment to the control tower of the Kebbi State Airport. So if the project is too difficult for them to handle, they can respectfully excuse themselves and allow others that have the will and competence to take on the project.”
He feared that recommendations like the relocation of the project, are few among many efforts that undermine the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration which has promised evenly distributed sustainable development to all parts of Nigeria. In his remarks, Bello said “What I find most preposterous among the reasons given, is the fact they recommended the project to be relocated to places like Enugu, Ibadan or Lagos and one of their reasons is for ease of servicing other ECOWAS states. I mean, does whoever wrote that own a map? Katsina is practically within trekking distance of an ECOWAS nation.”
The NYCN chairman said he was compelled to speak out on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of youths who have been motivated by the strategic positioning of the project in Katsina State, to divert their interest to areas of studies that would make them useful through the project.
To buttress this point, he asked, “Even if nothing else, doesn’t the recent mishap in Tudun Biri village in Igabi local government area of Kaduna State on November 3, 2023, where drone attack killed innocent worshippers, justify our yearning to establish such a project in the Northwest. I say this, especially considering that aviation communication is the area of AVSATEL’s core competency. Instead of finding ways to discredit the viability of the project in our state and deny our youths jobs and even the attending effect of supporting businesses that will benefit from the centre when in operations, they should find ways to expand its functions.”