Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika on Friday briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the measures put in place to enforce the closure of three international airports in to country, owing to the spreading Coronavirus disease.
The affected airports are in Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu, which leaves only two international airports in Abuja and Lagos operational.
The presidential taskforce on battling the disease had set a deadline of March 21, 2020 to ban flights and residents from high-risk countries from entering Nigeria.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with the President, the Minister stressed that there would be no going back on the March 21 deadline.
According to him, “This is in effect beginning Saturday 21st of March by 23:59 pm. These airports will be closed and people coming from these 15 countries will not enter.”
On the aircraft that brought the daughter of President Buhari from the United Kingdom who is now on self isolation, he only said that the Presidential Task Force was tackling the flights that came into the country from the high risk countries.
He said, “The task force set up by Mr. President is actively tracking that and we make sure that any traveler that comes in, any flight that informs us we will follow each and every individual to further follow development on that individual.”
Fielding question on why the Abuja and Lagos international airports that have the highest number of flights were not mentioned among the closed airports, he said that the closure of airports was a gradual process.
He said: “I think differently, this is my individual perspective. At some points these airports must be closed, this is my opinion. But like I said there is Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to which I am a member.
“But certainly and definitely at some point, these airports must be closed (Abuja and Lagos), all of them in Nigerian will be closed. I think it is the safest thing to do because these things, they multiply exponentially.
“But for a better brief I think we have the forum, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, they will come up with a statement.
“But I can guarantee you that sooner than later the airports will be be closed. We would close down these airports and we would issue the necessary notices to airmen as to what time they would be closed.
“I think it will be very soon. It is better safe than sorry and I think in my opinion, this is my personal opinion, if you want to catch a fish empty the water.”