President Muhammadu Buhari is known for his special regard for infrastructure development. From his days as the Executive Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, under the regime of the late General Sani Abacha, to his current one as Nigeria’s elected President, this much has been obvious, in spite of lean resources.
His decision to approve the release of N10 billion for the reconstruction of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, AIIA, on Friday October 18, 2019 after a parley with governors and leaders of the South East geopolitical zone in Aso Villa Abuja, flows smoothly into this perception.
The gesture which has been widely applauded within and outside the sub-region is something we welcome wholeheartedly. If the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, keeps his promise of ensuring the qualitative and speedy completion of the project, Buhari would have contributed in no small measure in brightening up the economic prospects of the South East by opening it up to the world.
However, we find it regrettable that it required the visitation of the cream of the leadership of that zone coming cap in hand to solicit from the President before a matter of crucial national development could be given the necessary financial backing for implementation.
Does it mean that if the delegation had not visited the airport would have been abandoned? Even after Minister Sirika had promised to complete the expansion of the runway and establishment of all other facilities, would that make AIIA truly an international airport?
The time has come for our leaders to change our discriminatory attitude to the development of this country. A centralised federation like Nigeria can only be a country of united and contented citizenry if the concept of even and equitable development is single-mindedly pursued as a national policy, irrespective of the political climate at any point in our history. It should be beyond mundane politics.
The people of Nigeria are collectively suffering the consequences of neglecting the Eastern ports and total dependence on the Lagos ports. Traffic gridlocks and tankers/trailers chaos are choking the city and its residents. They are driving the cost of economic activities sky high.
If we had adopted the concept of even development of our ports, the Eastern ports at Warri, Koko, Onne, Port Harcourt, Ibaka and Calabar would have offered Nigerians convenient choices to do their businesses. If we had opened the Onitsha, Lokoja and Baro river ports as planned, Nigeria would be enjoying greater economic prosperity.
The upgrading of the Enugu Airport will be good for the entire country because of the new opportunities it will offer in the Eastern axis of the economy. As we look forward to its speedy and qualitative completion, we once again thank President Buhari for doing the needful.