The Plateau State government has assured of its readiness and political will to upgrade the Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos to an international facility in a bid to attract agro cargo export from the state. The state governor, Caleb Mutfwang, gave the assurance at the Government House in Jos, during the visit of the Avia-Cargo Roadmap Project Committee, set up by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), to address the shortage of cargo export through the airports.
Mutfwang, who was represented by his Deputy, Josephine Piyo, expressed delight with the visit of the avia-cargo team and vowed that aviation activities would receive a boom in the state very soon. According to him, “We will pursue the upgrading of our airport to international status whereby these vegetables will be transported through cargo planes outside the country and with that, plateau will be booming economically. I know the state government is capable of doing this”. He said that the government would provide cooling facilities and embark on the widening of the width of the runway. “The state government has purchased fertilizers to assist the farmers. The result of this will start showing next year because we came late when the season is already gone. Next year, people will have fertilisers at subsidised rates for farmers to be able to farm.
“There will be tractors that would be hired to farmers at susidised rates. We might also purchase the grains for the farmers, but not the vegetables. Speaking further, he said that the activities of the government would further reduce youth restiveness and attract more people back to the farm, while also increasing the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He lamented that most of the agricultural produce from the state got rotten due to lack of facilities to export the products out of the state. He specifically lamented that tomatoes, vegetables and other perishable items harvested by the farmers end up as waste, but assured that the state government was developing capacity to prevent such waste in the future by providing facilities to ensure growth.
The Managing Director of FAAN, Mr. Mohammed Kabir, encouraged the government to look into the direction of cargo export to grow its revenue. Kabir, who was represented by the General Manager, Business Development of FAAN, Hycienth Ngwu, said that empirical studies by the Airports Council International (ACI), showed that the injection of only one per cent of a state’s budget into the development of airport critical infrastructure would translate to 2.5 per cent increase in the state’s GDP. He attributed the development of Lagos State majorly to the Muritala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, which he said had attracted investors and aviation entrepreneurs.
“Your Excellency, it will be a very developmental idea for the government of Plateau State to encourage the development of the airport infrastructure in the Yakubu Gowon Airport. We have a roadmap for this development and the airport manager told us that the airport and the state government have developed a workable plan to facilitate the development of infrastructure in the airport”, he said. Similarly, Coordinator, Avia-Cargo Roadmap Project Committee, Mr. Ikechi Uko, described Plateau State as unique, and that the state could attract passengers as tourists, while goods and cargo could also be exported through the state. He explained that the committee was set up to change the narrative of aircraft flying out of the country empty after landing in the country with full cargo. “Plateau was known for the biggest exporter of agro produce out of this country. Parts of what we found out that those things are not happening any more. We need to know what went wrong”, he added.