Omojuwa’s Expose on Murtala Muhammed Airport Stirs Debate
An expository piece written by popular social critic and blogger, Japhet Omojuwa, entitled The shame called Murtala Muhammed International Airport, published in The Punch on Tuesday has sparked up a frantic debate online.
The story, which dwells on the poor state of infrastructure at the airport, is trending on various social media sites. As of 6pm on Wednesday, the story had been read over 19,000 times on The Punch website alone.
The piece coming a few weeks after the N255m bulletproof cars controversy purchased by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency for the embattled Minister of Aviation, Ms.Stella Oduah, has also sparked major debate on social media network sites, including Twitter, Facebook and Nairaland.
Describing the Lagos-based airport as the ‘hottest’ in the world, Omojuwa said the Nairobi Airport in Kenya recently engulfed by fire was in a better condition than the MMIA. He added that while Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport, Accra, may be small, “it does not meet you with the repulsiveness the MMIA greets you with.”
Justifying his reasons for taking a spat at the current state of one of Nigeria’s premiere airports, Omojuwa, who said he passed through the facility on Sunday, noted that the MMIA was an essential part of a country’s prestige and perception. According to him, if a country cannot manage its main airport, it cannot manage anything else.
He added, “How much does it cost to make the air-conditioning systems work? What does it cost to make the airport clean enough? Why should we have people in queues for hours just to go through immigration and security checks? Why so many metal detectors if passengers are made to use just one or two on most occasions?
“Body scanners have been in use since 2007, how much does it cost to have them in our major airports? Why is Nigeria the only country where, to travel, you must have your box opened and ransacked by security men? What is the essence of running these same bags through electronic security? Why in the world can’t we get even the simplest of things right?”
Omojuwa also said that despite being modelled after Amsterdam’s Schipol, Netherlands, the NMIA is in a sorry state, 40 years after.
One of the commentators, Limited edition, on Twitter wrote, ‘This is the most brutal truth of our reality I’ve read’ while Ol’seun said, “I’m also ashamed of the shame called MMIA.’’
Omojuwa also said that owing to Nigeria’s history of corruption, funding was not the problem but accountability.
“Even with all the money in the world, our airports and our country will not work as long as we do not have people who care about excellence. Nigerians deserve more but as long as we have people – including the President – dancing on national TV because a road contract has been awarded, we would always have a situation where mediocrity will remain the norm. Would anyone say the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is the mess it is because of money?’’ He asked.
The piece has no doubt frayed nerves as many Nigerians have taken to major social media sites to vent their anger over the state of the airport.
Some also noted that the runway lighting at the Lagos airport, installed in December 2012, had collapsed, while others queried the Aviation Minister’s alleged penchant for wasteful spending.
Edward Osadebay wrote on the punchng.com, “You just cannot compare MMIA with anything outside Nigeria. If you know what N255m would do to that airport, you will ask for a certain woman’s head, hands and legs.”
Another respondent on Twitter, Gregorymanne wrote, “We cry over heat and other failures at the MMIA – we cry about a symptom of Nigeria’s disease, but may refuse to treat the cause of the disease. The disease is a unitary system of government with a skewed, lopsided political structure.”
Sammyidirect said on Twitter, “Common guys, any Metro station in Moscow, Russia beats MMIA airport, hands down. MMIA is like a London Tube station.
Opeyemi Bamidele added,” This is nothing but the truth; I worked at the MMIA for a while. Only a fool will debate the facts.”
“I have been moved to tears just reading @omojuwa article and the comments there…Are we that bad?” Lamented Samuel Ajayi on Twitter.
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