Friday, 30 December 2016

Bad weather stops Buhari’s visit to Bauchi, President apologises

The Federal Government on Thursday said plans were
underway to upgrade the Instrument Landing Systems at the
country’s major airports to ensure that they work better.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and
Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement
announcing the suspension of President Muhammadu
Buhari’s scheduled one-day working visit to Bauchi State.

Shehu said this was with a view to minimising flight
disruptions that had featured every harmattan season in the

He attributed the trip’s postponement to what he called
prevailing weather conditions in the country.

He quoted the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi
Sirika, as announcing the planned upgrade while reacting to
the bad weather that forced Buhari to postpone the trip.

The presidential spokesman said, “Uncooperative weather,
which has been the bane of air travel in the current
harmattan season, leading to the delay and cancellation of
flights, reared its head at the Abuja airport this (Thursday)
morning, preventing the take-off of the President’s plane for
the trip to Bauchi.

“Technical information received from the weather station
showed that visibility as of this (Thursday) morning was 600
metres, 200 metres short of the 800 metres minimally
required for a safe aircraft take-off.

“According to the information available, the visibility was
expected to drop to 300 metres before improving to
permissible limit later in the day.

“The commander of the Presidential Air Fleet, Air
Commodore Hassan Abubakar, said the presidential aircraft
was in perfect condition, the weather in Bauchi was alright,
but that the problem was in Abuja.”

In cancelling the visit to the state, Shehu said the President
expressed regret over the disruption caused by the bad

He said Buhari, in a recorded audio and video message to
the people of the state, said he looked forward to the visit in
the course of which he was to inaugurate an Air Force
medical facility and a number of other projects by the state

“We make our plans, God makes His own plans,” the
President was quoted as saying.

Buhari thanked the government and people of Bauchi State
and the Nigerian Air Force for the studious and elaborate
preparations made to receive him, assuring them that he was
going to visit the state at a more auspicious time.

Our correspondent reports that that was the second time
Buhari would be suspending the Bauchi trip which was
earlier fixed for December 13.

In the two instances, state government had declared public
holidays to allow residents of the state to give the President
a warm reception.

Buhari would have, during the visit, inaugurated the Nigerian
Air Force Hospital as well as some projects executed by the
state government.

Our correspondent reported that a combined team of security
agents including policemen and soldiers attached to the
Presidential Guard Brigade had earlier in the day lined the
route from the Presidential Villa, to the Presidential Wing of
the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, in
anticipation of the President’s journey.

The security agents were later recalled when it was
confirmed that the trip had been suspended.

Airline operators had, on Wednesday, attributed flights
disruptions during harmattan to the obsolete navigational
instruments at the airports.

Speaking in a broadcast to the people of Bauchi on Thursday,
the state Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, said the
cancellation of the visit was due to the poor visibility caused
by the harmattan.

Abubakar apologised to the people for the failure of the
President to visit the state for the second time, stating that it
was not intentional.

The governor, while answering questions from journalists
after the broadcast, stated that the Special Assistant on
Social Media to the President, Alhaji Sha’aban Sharada, and
other aides, had been in the state for the past three days in
preparation for the visit.

“He did this because of his love for Bauchi. He hardly does
this kind of things. There were instances governors had gone
to the airport to welcome him and the visit was cancelled but
he didn’t do this,” Abubakar added.


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