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Tinubu to commission Niger airport, others Monday

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The Niger State government has disclosed that arrangements have been concluded for the flag-off of the Agro Processing Zone and the commissioning of the Minna Airport, the state capital by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Monday.

Speaking with Journalists on Friday in Minna, Governor of the State, Mohammed Umaru Bago said that with the airport 99 per cent complete with just the clean up remaining, the state is now positioned to play a major role in the North Central aero hub.

Bago spoke when the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists bestowed on him the Grand Petron of the Niger State Council of the Union, a tour of the airport, as well as Agro Processing Zone ready for commissioning on Monday by President Tinubu.

According to Bago, about 1,000 hectares of land is ready for use as there would be drip irrigation for green houses, expected to be the biggest in Africa, even as he explained that special agro-processing zone in the airport will have fresh vegetables, fresh fruits leaving moved to anywhere in Nigeria and abroad.

The Governor who noted that beside the 1,000 hectares, there is another 1,000 hectares on the other side of the aisle that will be used for diary products and exported to other States and across the world, said, “On this other side of the land, there is another one 1,000 hectares where we are going have dairy products. The meats and everything leaving here will be moved to the rest of the world. You know Niger State sells an average of half a million cattle to Nigerians and outside Nigeria daily.”

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“So, I will have to redirect it in a way that you don’t need to transport these cattle at all and in Niger State you can take the meat that is frozen anywhere and it will create employment, create value change.

“This is a free zone and in a free zone, you can see anything and we are very ambitious to expand the 2,000 hectares of land around the airport to 10,000 hectares of land. We are starting up from the 2,000 and we will keep going.

“We are constructing about 140 kilometres of water irrigation to this place from Sororo dam and these are our partners are doing it and the people that we are partners from outside this country. You can see and they are ready for the work.

“This project is an ambitious 50-year programme, but the first phase will be finished in the next years so that Mr. President can commission it. We are bringing in 80 Megawatts of power to this airport. We are going to attract all of our investments to Niger State. There will be a power holiday for industries who want to set up here.

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“We can give them free energy because we are housing four hydropower dams in Niger State and we subsided 60 percent power consumed in Nigeria and we are asking for 13.5 percent derivation from the Federal government.

“We are generating so that our people can benefit from what we are doing. Since 1960 that Nigeria got independence, Niger State has not benefited anything from these hydro dams. People are displaced. Our farmland are washed with excess overflow from the dams.

“Niger State has strategically positioned itself now to become Nigeria’s water reservoir so that the overflow from all these dams and rivers can now be stored for irrigation and we plug them during crisis.”

Governor Bago also disclosed that Niger State Government will soon introduce School Farms in all the Primary and Secondary Schools in the State, leveraging on the expanse of land and space lying waste within most of the school environments to help in promoting agriculture and make students and teachers alike, agro compliant; which he said will go a long way in boosting food production, drastically reducing hunger and extreme hardship among the populace.

Speaking with Journalists after the tour with Governor Bago, the NUJ President, Chris Isiguzo, who stressed the need for peer review mechanism among the governors, said that each State has a comparative advantage and with the review, the governors will now tap from one another as well seek areas in which they can collaborate for the growth and development at the sub national level

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Isiguzo said: “I learned about this airport several years ago, but at some point, I also learned that it had gone terribly down, and coming here today to see the massive transformation that is ongoing in this place speaks volumes about the commitment of the present administration in the State.

“If you go around the airport, you can see that it can compete with any other airport in Africa and that shows that the government has invested so much in this airport which is supposed to be a Federal airport. But the state through this hardworking governor has taken it upon itself to embark on this massive work.

“We have looked at the Governor’s idea of putting in place an agro-processing zone, a free trade zone. It will operate within the airport and that is a very great idea, an initiative by the governor. This way, the consumption of red meat, blood meat would have been a thing of the past.

“This is a very good thing. Before now, we were dependent on oil. There is a need to diversify and that is what the governor has done by focusing on agriculture.”

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