*Senator Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari
Expectedly, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said yesterday that airports in Nigerian earlier shut down as part of efforts to control the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country will no longer be reopened as planned on Thursday April 23,2020. Sirika who made the disclosure in Abuja Monday said the new projected date of resumption of airport operations is consequent upon the two weeks extension of the lockdown by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Lagos State, which is Nigeria’s epicentre for the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja have been on lockdown as directed by the president. The lockdown which lasted for 14 days in the first instance was extended by another 14 days by Nigeria’s president, which is not different from what the government of other countries are also doing. Following that sit at home order, a good number of state governors across the country have also ordered shutdown in their various states.
The minister stated, “As a result of the extension on lockdown by Mr President, it is no longer possible for us to open our airspace and airports for normal operations by April 23, 2020,” Sirika said, adding that the airports will remain closed for a further 2 weeks, which is however subject to review as appropriate.
The minister however appealed to air travelers and all stakeholders in the aviation industry to see the current situation as sacrifices necessary to safeguard the health and well-being of the people, with the hope that the pandemic will be short-lived. The Federal government had announced the closure of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on March 23, 2020, for one month in the first instance as part of measures to combat the coronavirus scourge.