President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday blamed past governments for the near-neglect of the nation’s airports’ infrastructue, lamenting that they did little to increase passenger handling capacity or airport terminals since early 1980s.

The President expressed this view in his remarks at the inauguration of the Port Harcourt International Airport new terminal in Omagwa, Rivers State.

He explained that the neglect by successive governments as well as the rising air travellers had made the airport terminals to become inadequate to cope with the volume of passenger traffic in most of the airports nationwide.

To improve air transportation service efficiency, Buhari canvassed the urgent need for government to take decisive action to ensure the nation’s airport terminals meet minimum international standards for the travelling public.

The President explained that the construction of four new international terminals at Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano airports was embarked upon by the Federal Government with a view to modernising the airport infrastructure to meet global aviation standards.

He clarified further: “This ceremony represents a significant landmark for international air travellers, particularly from the South-South region, and the entire country.

“You will recall that after opening the major airport terminals in the country in the late 70s and early 80s, not much was added to increase the passenger handling capacity of these facilities by successive administrations.

“Following the large increase in national population with the consequent surge in air passenger traffic, the capacity of the airport terminals became woefully inadequate to cater for the increase in passenger traffic.

“Although, palliative measures were periodically carried out, the facilities were fast giving-in to the effects of wear and tear. It, therefore, became necessary to take decisive action to ensure our terminals meet minimum international standards for the travelling public.

“The Federal Government responded to a global trend in which aviation became a catalyst for economic growth as a result of massive and speedy movement of persons, goods and services in a safe and secure manner”, the President added.

Buhari recalled that during the presentation of the 2017 Budget to the National Assembly, he promised to upgrade and develop Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure, and complete a number of stalled infrastructure projects.

He listed some of the projects as the construction of new terminals at the country’s five major airports; numerous major road projects; key power transmission projects; and the completion of the Kaduna – Abuja as well as Itakpe to Warri railway lines.

Buhari pointed out that with Nigeria having an advantageous central location within the sub-region and government’s desire to develop into a regional air transportation hub, the need to upgrade the nation’s airport facilities had become imperative for the country to take advantage of its assets.