I had waited patiently for the so-called Ebonyi State elders and elites to at least condemn Dave Umahi’s recklessly manic plot of building an international airport in Ebonyi State knowing full well that it’s clearly another conduit pipe for colossal embezzlement of the State’s treasury but none of them has, and now I realize why. Umahi holds their meal. None of them can survive a year without the crumbs he feeds them. They are that selfish, greedy, wretched and resourceless especially those of Ezza extraction.
Shortly before I tell you why an airport (not to mention international one) in Ebonyi is completely untimely, useless and a clear attempt at strangling the already impoverished State, I would like to briefly educate the vast of Ebonyians so blind and daft to the scary point of heralding such a plan with jubilation on a few facts about airports and their usual states in Nigeria.
Altogether, there are over 26 airports in Nigeria out of which over 15 are moribund particularly those owned by state governments whose governors thought same way like Umahi; a viable means of amassing funds. Only 5 are international; Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe international Airport Abuja, Aminu Kano International Airport Kano, Port Harcourt International Airport and Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu. Yet frankly, only that of Lagos and Abuja can be said to be of commensurate feat with the name by generating over 50% of the total traffic and revenue generated by the rest of the local and international airports in Nigeria put together. And the reason is not far fetched. Ask those states that built airports, they’re spending more to maintain and pay workers at the airports in addition to the billions of naira invested in the construction simply because there was no existing obvious need for the airports. Where’s the gain then? Some have handed theirs over to the Federal Airport Authority which apparently can’t maintain all of them to standard hence the Nigerian Civil aviation Authority often fail to licence them to operate.
In 2015 during the rise in the spate of airport construction by States such as Bayelsa, Jigawa, Ekiti, Ondo, Dutse, Delta, Abia, Osun, Ogun etc, an Aviation and Security Consultant, Captain John Ojikutu shunned such move. He stated then that all the State owned airports put together couldn’t generate more than a 100,000 passengers in a year, hence a wasteful adventure spending over 50 billion for local and over 100 billion naira for international airports that can’t in a lifetime generate the money spent in constructing and maintaining them.
To cut the long story short, it takes traffic and money to build an airport, and an existing pressing need for it. Ebonyi State currently has none of both. It has the highest poverty rate among the South East States. Has the lowest population. Has the least agricultural produce due to lack of commercial agriculture. Has no single or viable Tourist centre. Yet to discover any peculiar mineral resources. Has no industry. Has no market of national or international importance. Has no peculiar public or private institution enough to attract visitors. Has the lowest federal allocation and lowest IGR in the the whole of Southeast despite the governor’s stifling taxation policy. Nkalagu Nigercem is a thing of the past. Abakaliki rice is now a mirage, simply a brand name for commercial rice producing States such as Benue and Anambra States. The salt of the nation doesn’t produce salt anymore. No single sporting activity in the sate; no state football or athletic team. Everybody is just a politician in Ebonyi State, willingly and unwillingly. Any youth who doesn’t sing for one politician or two doesn’t believe they have a chance of survival in life.
So who would use the proposed International airport and why? Is it to fly what cargo and to where? Is it to come and watch street light or water fountain or flyovers? Which airline would fuel their plane to pick one or two passengers if at all any to and from Abakaliki? Is it Arik, Azman, Ethiopian airline or Boeing? Don’t they want gain?
How many average Abakaliki men would pay 40k to 50k to fly to Lagos or Abuja whereas they can pay 3k to 5k to get to such destinations by road? What business do they do and how much do they earn? Is Umahi just building the International Airport for himself and his family?
Yet there’s also a huge possibility that the said international airport won’t be completed and all this would be a wild goose chase. The hollow structure would fallow while Umahi would’ve been many billions richer and Ebonyians at much scale poorer and desolate.
He will always hide under the guise that it will generate revenue and boost Ebonyi’s economy but it’s a lie. Do a feasibility check, and see it won’t. It’s a misplaced priority. It’s a clear fraud, and EFCC should now be aware of the next river to throw their fishing hook and I bet the catch would be bigger than of Orji Uzor Kalu’s and Theodore Orji and son’s.
The federal government is currently upgrading Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu. It is just 65km away from Abakaliki, less than an hours drive. Why does Umahi insist on having an international airport in Ebonyi at this moment when many Ebonyians can’t afford quality education, good healthcare, food, portable water, manageable power or sustainable salaries? The reason is obvious. Umahi is a fluke, he won’t give up until he sucks Ebonyi to death.
The recent destruction of homes and farms of indigent villagers in both Ezza north and South LGAs by Umahi for international airport is a sacrilege. It’s inhuman especially as there was no form of compensation. Ezza elders under sane era should’ve gathered at Okpoku Ezekuna to lay a perpetual and irreversible curse on the governor and his generations to come. But like senseless children, Umahi showed them two currency notes: a dirty one thousand naira note and a clean five naira note. They elders chose the latter, throwing away value to choose fancy.
To all of you who have hands in this abominable plot of climbing the tree from the top, including all who have kept quiet as the lives of these poor villagers, widows, widowers and orphans are being ravaged by an insensitive government over an ill-thought, money-guzzling, white-elephant project, I say ‘be ware!’ Their tears won’t go in vain. As you sleep in your mansions, on your high mattresses protected from both the sun and the rain while they lie there in tears on the open, helpless, without a cover over their heads, at the mercy of snakes, scorpions and mosquitoes, I leave you with your conscience and this quote by Dele Giwa: “‘No evil deed will go unpunished; any evil done by man to man will be redressed; if not now then certainly later; if not by man, then by God for the victory of evil over good is temporary.”
Ezza teh enwedu madzu o!