…Senate Says New Airport Projects Are Waste of Public Funds
By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Cross River State government is forging ahead with the construction of its multibillion Naira Obudu International Airport project despite caution to the states from the Senate against embarking on airport projects which it considered not viable and total waste of public funds.
Senator Smart Adeyemi, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Aviation, had last week during the presentation of his Committee’s 2022 report for appropriations in Abuja said apart from Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Portharcourt airports, others are not viable and over N20 billion being spent by some State governors on the construction of new airports were not necessarily as such money “would have been better channelled into welfare–driven projects and programmes for people of the States.
“Governors should stop embarking on the white elephant projects called State Airport with the attendant waste of resources that should be channelled into the welfare and livelihood of citizens”.
Unconfirmed sources in the state government have put the spending so far on the Obudu Airport project at over N27 billion saying, “this airport project is not what we need now. We have an airport in Calabar and the Bebi airstrip in Obudu so why do we waste public funds on this. Little money would have been provided to renovate or up grade the Bebi airstrip. We think this is just another conduit pipe”.
However, Commissioner for Aviation Cross River state, Dr. Jake Otu Enyia, at weekend said the state was on course with the Obudu Passengers and Cargo International Airport project and the on going second phase bidding was targeted at sound finishing of the project in record time and cost with a view to be commissioned in 2022.
While briefing Newsmen during bid opening for completion of the airport, Enyia outlined the targeted areas to include furnishing of the entire airport, provision of water facility in the airport for users, provision of perimeter fence, and access road.
Others are, provision of solar plants at the airport, provision of aviation fuel dump, runway swipers and every other thing hitherto not considered in the first procurement.
He said a successful completion of the exercise will put state in a better pedestal to run her planned international airport in Obudu, adding that choice of the airport location was informed by its proximity to the British-Canadian University, the International reference hospital and famous Obudu Mountain Resort, all located within the hemisphere of Northern Cross River state.
To further justify the viability of the airport when it takes off, Enyia said “another salient advantage of the airport when completed is its International and cargo status with the potentials of feeding countries and states not limited to Benue, Ebonyi, Taraba, Ghana, US, UK, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a ripple effect on state economy”.
On her part, Mrs. Esther Ushie, Assistant Director, Procurement and representative of Due Process and Price Intelligence described the bidding process as transparent, credible and in accordance with extant laws of Nigeria.
Also speaking, Mr. Otu Chukwuemeka of Portent Contractors, one of the companies bidding for the project enthusiastically eulogized Cross River state for being a model in the bidding community using just concluded exercise termed transparent, credible and devoid of undue influence as yardstick.