By Kenneth Ehigiator
ENUGU—The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Southeast zone, has commended President Goodluck Jonathan and members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, for approving N10.033 billion to upgrade Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, to international status, describing the development as a demonstration of great vision, fairness and determination to right the wrongs of the past.
MAN President, South East zone, Dr. Chike Obidigbo, who gave the commendation, disclosed that by approving money for the purchase of Airport Fire Crash Tenders, Very High Frequency radios and Air Traffic Control towers, FEC had put all doubting Thomases to shame.
According to him, the upgrade is not a fluke as suggested by antagonists of the new status of the airport.
Obidigbo, who described the airport as the fourth busiest in the country, said: “We wish, therefore, to commend President Goodluck Jonathan in a very special way for this unique gesture.
Mr. President has by this singular initiative, demonstrated fairness, great vision and determination to push the economic frontiers of the nation to the next level.
“The Federal Executive Council, by supporting this initiative, has also lifted the weight on the minds and purse of air travelers from the South East flank of the country, thereby undoing the injustices of the past.”
He noted that the international status of Akanu Ibiam Airport would increase aerial traffic in the zone, stressing that the new status would to a large extent, save international business men and tourists the hiccups associated with travelling to Lagos or Abuja for international flights.”
“What the President has done has swept away the sufferings encountered by business men and women who undertake excursions to other Nigerian cities before accessing international airport,” he added.
Obuidigbo noted that social, commercial and political benefits of the upgrade of the airport were unquantifiable in naira terms.
Congratulating also the governors of the five states in South East geopolitical zone for their untiring engagement with the relevant authorities, Obidigbo praised the openness, commitment and foresight of the Senate Committee on Aviation and its Chairman, Senator Anyim Ude, saying the public hearing on the state of Nigerian airports has started yielding fruits.
He made special reference to the recent commissioning of TRACON for the total radar coverage of the nation’s airspace by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The MAN boss lamented what he called the campaign of calumnies and war of attrition against the upgrade of Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu; pointing out that those who still live in the past by encouraging the marginalization of any section of the country should wake up and join the crusade for a new Nigeria under the transformational leadership of Goodluck Jonathan and Architect Namadi Sambo.
His words: “The journey to the new Nigeria, where ethnic or state of origin does not matter has begun. Those who live in the past by pressing for the marginalization or exclusion of any zone should open their eyes to the new realities. There is no doubt that the transformational leadership being offered by President Goodluck Jonathan and Namadi Sambo, would announce Nigeria’s greatness and economic prosperity.
Improvement of transportation is part of the main indices that signpost the 20 most industrialized countries of which Nigeria is keen on being part of”.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council at its recent meeting, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, approved N10, 033,078,000.98 for the upgrade of Enugu Airport which is expected to be fitted with Category II lighting system and has 24 months completion period.
According to the Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, contract for the project would cover extension/expansion, resurfacing of the runway and the fitting of the category II AFL lighting.
She added that though the project was initially projected to cost N4, 138,703,398.60, it has been revised to N6, 199,374,602.33 bringing the total cost to N10.03 billion.
The Airport was closed for upgrade in February 2010 but is expected to resume daylight operations by December to attend to Christmas holiday makers.