We the Igbo Ekunie Initiative, IEI, comprising of professionals in Nigeria and the Diaspora; have noted the closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu since 24th August for repairs which are yet to commence for almost 2 months since its closure.
Having reviewed the abrupt closure of the Airport with only a week’s notice and the continuing delay or outright refusal of the ministry of aviation and federal airport authority FAAN to commence repairs in such critical infrastructure; we hereby condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued delay and refusal of the Federal Government to physically start work on the construction of the runway at Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, and we state as follows:
That, the same runway at the airport had been previously awarded to PW Limited which after a prolonged closure of the airport was only able to render a lacklustre, dismal and substandard delivery to the effect that the runway was not fit for purpose and posed a danger to all the airport users.
That we are dismayed and bewildered that the company that failed to comply with the previous award of contract was again chosen to construct the runway and this raises a lot of questions for the Minister of Aviation, FAAN and all concerned.
That Akanu Ibiam International Airport is a critical national economic infrastructure that contributes to the overall development of the region and the nation at large and must not be subjected to the crude, retrogressive and un-patriotic anti-people politics of marginalisation that has kept the nation in a perpetual state of under-development, conflicts and social crisis.
That, all over the world, whether in the United Arab Emirates, Europe or Asia, Airport infrastructure is a sensitive and very critical infrastructure that has aided the development of nations across the globe. Airports are so strategic that they are never totally closed when repairs or upgrades are being carried out in nations that are serious about economic development.
That, while the ministry of Aviation deemed it necessary to shut down the Akanu Ibiam international airport for repairs, even though this could have been avoided by constructing a second runway at night, we believe that all necessary arrangements that would facilitate the quick reopening of the Airport should have been done in advance of the closure.
That the ongoing delay in commencing repairs at Enugu Airport constitutes a grave act of economic sabotage, an affront on the people of the Southeast and thousands of travellers affected by the abrupt closure of the Airport.
We can vividly recall the maximum urgency that was accorded to Nnamdi Azikiwe airport Abuja when it was overhauled and reconstructed in such a swift way that all the work was successfully finished within 6 weeks and whilst the work was subsisting, ongoing traffic was promptly diverted to Kaduna airport.
We note, that the federal airport authority collects humongous taxes from all federal airports including Enugu Airport. We also note that when Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport Abuja faced a similar closure, enough notice was given; repairs were carried out within 6 weeks and the airport was promptly re-opened. We see no reason why the Akanu Ibiam international airport should not be similarly treated. The Airport is now closed for 45 days and counting without any sign of work on the ground.
We submit that such insensitive closure of Enugu airport, other than being an act of grave economic sabotage also fuels separatist agitations by groups who rightly feel short-changed and marginalised by such reckless and unpatriotic acts of government. Indeed, it also validates the argument for restructuring; the logic being that regional airports should be in control of regional or state governments and not a federal government that is detached and or has no interest in the development of sections of the nation.
We hereby call on the minister of Aviation; Alhaji Hadi Sirika to cease these acts of economic sabotage and as a matter of utmost urgency mobilise contractors to commence repairs of the Enugu international airport to meet the December deadline initially given. This is to assuage the displacement, economic haemorrhage and suffering of those who have been affected by the closure of the airport.
Lastly, we warn that anything to the contrary would confirm the suspicion, that the airport closure is a direct and deliberate act of sabotage/marginalisation with grave consequences for the unity and economic development of the nation. We also admonish all the Governors, National Assembly members, Sate Assembly members and indeed all the other politicians from the South East to be alive to their responsibilities in accordance to their respective oath of office by taking proactive and strategic action to protect the interests of the people from the South East and indeed all Igbos everywhere. Where they fail in their duties, we shall not and when the time of reckoning comes, every defaulter will be identified and brought to book.