By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE Federal Government yesterday approved the setting up of Independent Power Plant at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, so as to put to an end the power challenges at the airport.
The Federal Government also approved the rehabilitation of Enugu/Oturkpo road that gets to Nineth Mile at the the cost of N5.44 billion.
These were some of the decisions taken at the inaugural Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting for the year 2018.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Heldi Sirika said that the approval to establish Independent Power Plant at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport was one of the measures to tackle some of the challenges at the airport.
He said, “As you are aware, we had challenges at our first day of work in 2018. The new terminal building at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport which is called Chinese building has the challenge of power, water, sewage, apron, etc that we are putting up there.
“So, we have to find a way of dealing with those challenges. We are putting up an independent power system at the airport which has been approved by FEC.
“Subsequently, we will also attend to the challenges of water, sewage, apron, connectivity between old and new airport and all the fire stations that are blocking the usage of the airport and perhaps also the control tower that is connecting the other side of the airport.
“All these will be attended to in phases in preparation to the full utilization of the airport.”
FG approves rehabilitation of Enugu-Oturkpo road
Also briefing journalists, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said that a memo for the rehabilitation of Ninth Mile (Enugu)/Oturkpo road (Benue State) was approved by the FEC.
Fashola said that the road rehabilitation which was approved at the contract sum of N5.44 billion was aimed at promoting the agricultural policy of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, stressing that the two communities involved were agrarian areas.
He said, “My ministry handled one memo today and it was for the Ugbokolo section of the Ninth Mile/Oturkpo road that links Enugu State to Benue State. The Benue section is already under construction, so, what we have just done is to award the 36 kilometers that connects the Enugu section to the road.
“This is a major agrarian connectivity in support of our agricultural policies. The council approved that memorandum, the award was to the existing contractor who is already working on the Benue section so that we should have a seamless deployment of machine and materials to site.
“We expect that this should be completed in 24 months. The contract sum is N5.44 billion.”
When asked whether the contract involved dualization of the road or new construction, he said, “No, it is a 7.2 meter width road and total rehabilitation is what is currently being done there.”
FG yet to decide on deployment of soldiers to Benue
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the Federal Government was making efforts to put to a stop the constant conflicts between the herdsmen and farmers in the country.
While fielding question on whether the government would deploy soldiers to the trouble spots where the herdsmen were clashing with farmers, the Minister said decision was yet to be taken on it.
He said, “Government is very much concern about the herdsmen and farmers clashes and it is receiving attention at the highest level.
“As to who to send, that will be decision after a thorough deliberations of the matter.”
Also asked what was the Federal Government meaning of cattle colony that was being proposed, Alhaji Mohammed said, “First of all what’s the difference between a colony and a cattle ranch. I am not an agricultural experts but a colony is much bigger in nature than a ranche.”
But the Minister of State for Aviation, Sirika interjected and said, “I am not speaking as an agricultural expert but perhaps growing up in the hinterlands where I grew up, there used to be cattle routes, we call them “burtali” in local language.
“This was established by the federal government in 1914. It is a designated route where they follow, feed, graze, drink water. When that one was available, there was no farmer/herdsmen clash because the routes are specific, identified and mapped and are paid for compensation over time.
“But I think due to development and increase in population these routes are either captured or converted to farms.
“The question of colony or grazing land or whatever name they are called is about the same thing really. I don’t think government will do anything without recourse to owners of farm lands and laws of the land.”