Some Nigerians on social media have said the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo; House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; and other dignitaries should have used road as an alternative mode of transportation to Kano to attend the 12th colloquium in honour of All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bola Tinubu, who clocked 69 on Monday.
We had earlier reported that the dignitaries including Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Gboyega Oyetola (Osun); and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), who were supposed to physically attend the colloquium in Kano, were stranded at the Abuja airport due to bad weather that prevented planes from landing at the Kano airport.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, in a note obtained by The PUNCH, also attributed the flight disruption at the Kano airport to bad weather, adding that all aircraft en route Kano were diverted to the Abuja airport.
Osinbajo, Gbajabiamila and others later joined the event virtually from their offices in Abuja while the governors and other politicians joined from the VIP lounge of the Abuja airport.
The bad weather, which affected flight operations at the Kano airport, caused the organisers of the colloquium to start the programme around 1pm instead of the earlier scheduled 12 noon.
The colloquium was themed, ‘Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: The Imperative Of National Cohesion For Growth And Prosperity’, and was also virtually attended by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who chaired the occasion.
Some Nigerians have since taken to the social media to query why the government officials could not travel by road from Abuja to Kano.
A tweep, @Abdul_yinka009, wrote, “Despite the best conditions of the road from Abuja to Kano. Y’all could have made it in time.”
Another Twitter user, @owoniyilb, stated, “If poor weather conditions affect the aviation sector, why can’t they all use the alternative which is road? Reason is simple – fear of their lives but Nigerians can be subjected to insecurity.”
“What happened to road transportation? No one is safe anymore,” wrote @_igbalodeEngr.
@Opeloye7, however, said the governors could afford to travel by road in the company of heavy security operatives but they preferred to spend the time on some more productive engagements.
Still, some social media users maintained that the insecurity on Nigerian highways frightened the politicians.
“Don’t we have roads again in Nigeria? Is it only by air that you can get to Kano from Abuja? I thought (Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde) Fashola had built roads? And the new service chiefs have cleared the highways of bandits?” Awe Constance probed on Facebook.
Also, another Facebook user, Reuben Momah, stated, “Just imagine! So the sole means of transportation for elites in Nigeria is by air? Little wonder their ineptitude as per what the proletariat encounter through road travel.”
While Abuja to Kano is about an hour by air, the trip between the two cities is about four hours by road but the deplorable condition of the road sometimes makes the journey arduous and longer for travellers. Many travellers plying the route have also been robbed and kidnapped in recent times by rampaging bandits.
Meanwhile, Tinubu has linked the flight disruptions to climate change, saying it was unusual that bad weather could occur at a time when Nigeria was not experiencing harmattan.