The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ebonyi State Chapter and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government in the state, have bickered over Governor David Umahi’s request of N10billion from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rted), to complete Ebonyi International Airport.
While the PDP said the State Government was merely and deliberately embarking on massive construction projects that had little or no direct bearing on the lives and livelihoods of the citizenry, the government said there was nothing wrong if it sought for assistance from the Federal Government to finance a mega project, like an airport.
Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi, had in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, appealed to Buhari to assist the state with the sum of N10billion for the acquisition of some equipment, to complete the ongoing air project.
The letter, dated September 7, 2021, said to have leaked in transit and signed by Governor Umahi, had read in part, “Please, find an attached letter below to Mr. President on the above subject matter.
“We are building one of the largest airport in Nigeria using concrete to build our runway.
“We intend to complete this project by May, 2022, but we do not have money to buy airport equipment hence our appeal to Mr. President for Ten Billion Naira (N10,000,000,000.00) to purchase the equipment.
“We shall handover the airport to the Federal Government on completion to concession and supervision.
But the opposition PDP, in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Barr Silas Onu, described the project as a misplaced priority initiated, in the first place, to imprison the citizenry.
According to the statement, “The core content of the said letter simply expose the obvious fact that Ebonyi State is unfortunate to have a government that acts, as if on impulse, but deliberately for self enrichment of top government officials and their family members at the expense of the entire state.
“In the letter, the Governor appealed to the President for financing rescue regarding the much talked about Ebonyi airport, with a clear commitment to relinquish same project to the Federal government. One question comes to mind at this point – is the Ebonyi State government selling off the airport to the Federal government at the rate of N10billon? This is the only defensible rational for such an act which has now become a norm in Ebonyi State.
“This government deliberately embarks on massive construction projects that has little or no direct bearing on the lives and livelihoods of our people with an initial false reason for commencing such a project.”
In a swift reaction, the State Government, in a statement, said there was nothing wrong with the Governor’s letter to the Presidency.
The statement, which was signed by Governor Umahi’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Francis Nwaze, said, “First, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Ebonyi State Government asking for assistance from the Federal Government to finance a megaproject like the Airport. This is because Airport of Ebonyi quality and sophistry are gargantuan projects that require coordinated financing, otherwise, every State of the Federation would have afforded to have their Airports.
“Ebonyi State was lucky to have gotten the approval of the federal government for the construction of the project and from day one, the Governor has maintained that the federal government has been a great partner in progress for the many transformations going on in the state without exception to the ongoing International Airport.
“In a sensible society, Governor Umahi should be applauded for always making effort for the betterment of Ebonyi State.
“Recall that Mr. President on his visit to Ebonyi for a campaign in 2019 had explained that Governor Umahi “don’t talk about a party but the development of his people.
“Second, there is also nothing wrong with concessioning the Airport to the Federal Government to run through the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN. The most important thing is, who is the Project managed in trust for? Who are the beneficiaries of the Project? and whose economy is being improved as a result of the management be it by the Federal or State Government?