Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Following the complaints of the South East governors and Igbo leaders, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N10 billion for the take-off of the expansion and rehabilitation work in Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
He said he had been assured by the Minister of Aviation, Hedi Sirika that the project would be expeditiously executed.
“I have approved the sum of N10 billion for an intervention fund for the upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu. I have the assurance of the Minister of Aviation that the work will be done speedily and to the highest standards.
“Even as we have many items competing for our limited resources, we will continue to prioritise infrastructure investments in every part of the country. It is our responsibility to ensure Nigeria’s infrastructure is fixed. We will keep doing this,” Buhari stated after a closed-door meeting in the State House.
The governors and leaders of the enjoined the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on South East roads and erosion.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Chairman of the South-east Governors’ Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, noted that there was a disconnect between the region and infrastructure, citing the deplorable state of roads in the zone as an illustration.
He added that the delegation drew the attention of the president to the deplorable state of South-East roads as well as the plights of the people of the region, which he said had been worsened by the closure of Enugu airport.
Umahi said the situation needed immediate intervention in view of the industrious nature of the people of the South-East whom he said had to move from one place to the other as traders and businessmen.
However, the governor added that the president noted the complaints of the delegation and promised to act on them.
He also said the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, told the meeting that the hitherto impediment against the take-off of the expansion work on Enugu airport had been addressed and hence, the project would take off without any further delay.
According to Umahi, the necessity to start and complete the Enugu airport project had become compelling because “what Kaduna is to the North is what Enugu is to the South-East,” adding that rail projects in the region would also soon take-off.
“The good takeaways from the meeting is that we are happy because Enugu airport will be alive again. We are happy with the hardworking Aviation Minister,” Umahi said.
The governor of Ebonyi also said the attention of the president was drawn to the state of Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri, stating that there is a need to expand the runway of the airport and simultaneously carry out an extensive work on the tarmac.
Attendance at the meeting comprised serving governors, former governors, ministers from the region, federal lawmakers and leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Igbo socio-cultural organisation.
Other governors present at the meeting aside Umahi were Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Emeka Ihedioha (Imo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and David Umahi (Ebonyi).
The governor of Anambra, Willie Obiano was represented by his deputy.
Also present were the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, Senator Sam Egwu, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, former Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Martin Elechi; former governors of Imo State, Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim, former Enugu State governor, Sulivan Chime, serving ministers, among others.