Early on Monday morning, I arrived at the Abuja airport to do a flight to Dutse, the Jigawa state capital.
I had an urgent reason to go to Dutse over the weekend and had thought about the stress of driving for six hours during Ramadhan (as I have done regularly since March 2013, when we commenced the work of the Technical Committee on the Jigawa TV).
It was while thinking of the journey, that I received an advice to go by air! In September, last year, we were to submit the report of the TV Committee when one of the officials of the Jigawa State government informed us that Governor Sule Lamido was inspecting a project and had sent that we joined him.
We drove a couple of kilometres out of Dutse and in the midst of nowhere, literally, was a very busy construction site, with all the tell tales of a new airport: terminal building nearing completion; a very modern runway; an apron; control tower and workmen and earth moving equipment frantically trying to actualise the dream.
Sule Lamido said apart from regular passenger services and pilgrims airlifts, the airport was also going to serve the agricultural corridor in that part of the country, and hopefully become a hub for economic development. Like most of the projects in Jigawa over the past seven years, the airport was very much part of an overall determination to achieve modernity very much within an ideological frame that is rooted in the NEPU/PRP tradition that Lamido valorises so much.
It was therefore most incredible to be able to fly into Dutse on Monday to savour the work that actualised the airport and opened Jigawa state to the realities of air travel. There were few passengers on the flight and the airport staff were few and seemed still in an enchanted shock at the reality they are part of. But it should become very much a living reality very soon.
It is still a construction site, even with the glittering runway and very well appointed terminal building. If the so-called ‘Nigerian factor’ is not allowed to set in, the future should look very good indeed. As we re-embarked for the return trip to Abuja, I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities that a focused, people-oriented leadership can actualise in any community.