Senate Calls for Conversion of Abandoned Shell Airstrip into Air Force Base


In a bid to revitalize dormant infrastructure and bolster national security, the Nigerian Senate has endorsed a proposal to transform the disused Shell Airstrip in Oloibiri oil well, Bayelsa State, into a modern Air Force base.

Sponsored by Senator Sunday Agadaga of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), representing Bayelsa State, the motion garnered widespread bipartisan support during its deliberation.

Senator Agadaga highlighted the historical significance of the Shell Airstrip, which served as a crucial asset for oil exploration and personnel transportation following its construction in 1958. He expressed concern over its abandonment since the decline of Shell’s operations in the region, citing the detrimental impact on local livelihoods and environmental degradation.

“The land itself appears to have been sentenced to perpetual condemnation as no agricultural activity, which is the economic mainstay of the local dwellers, can be carried out anymore due to the concretized topography of the soil,” remarked Senator Agadaga.

Contributing to the discourse, Senator Isah Jibrin of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Kogi State raised apprehensions regarding the financial implications of the project. While refraining from outright opposition, he cautioned against overlooking the substantial costs involved.

In contrast, Senator Adams Oshiomole of the APC representing Edo State underscored the strategic advantages of repurposing the airstrip into an Air Force base, particularly in enhancing security measures in the region.

Echoing similar sentiments, Senator Maidoki Garuba of the PDP from Kebbi State emphasized the critical role of the conversion in fortifying national security and combating illicit activities such as oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

Senator Victor Umeh of the Labour Party (LP), representing Anambra State, emphasized the importance of preserving historical landmarks like Oloibiri. He emphasized that the conversion would not only bolster security but also elevate Oloibiri to a national monument, commemorating its historical significance.

In his concluding remarks, Senate President Godswill Akpabio stressed the imperative of preserving historical assets like the Oloibiri Shell Airstrip. He underscored the potential of converting it into an Air Force base to bolster security and emergency response capabilities, particularly given its proximity to the Gulf of Guinea.

Akpabio expressed optimism that the government would prioritize the reconstruction of the airstrip into an Air Force base to address potential challenges effectively.

The Senate’s unanimous support for the motion signals a collective commitment to harnessing the potential of abandoned infrastructure for national development and security enhancement.