Group protests against construction of Ebonyi International Airport

Governor David Umahi:

An Organisation of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (OESID) has rejected plans by Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi to embark on a construction of an international airport in the state.

The group in a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr Paschal Ogbonna in Abuja on Thursday, described the planned construction of the airport as “a white elephant project” that might be difficult to achieve at the moment.

Ogbonna, however, called on the governor to shelve the project and prioritise projects that would have direct impacts on the people.

According to him, it is trite knowledge that building an international airport usually involves colossal amounts of money which may not be available to the state government at the moment.

“Chances are, the resources will invariably be borrowed either locally or most likely from Chinese and other international financiers.

“But even if these fund is available, the Ebonyi state government should not spend it to build an international airport because it is a gross misapplication of resources,” Ogbonna said.

According to him, there are better and more people oriented investment that will enhance development of the state than building an airport that will serve only vested interests.

He said that putting the entire cost of building the airport into strengthening public education and public healthcare infrastructure would impact positively on the economy and human development of Ebonyi.

“The Ebonyi state government should focus on pursuing peoples’ oriented projects that will directly impact lives of the people of the state rather than embarking on this expensive and needless adventure.

“Umahi should sustain major strides in human development, poverty eradication and efficient healthcare delivery systems rather than sinking gigantic amounts of money into building an international airport in the state.

“The majority of people are struggling to cope with basic human needs such as food to eat, water to drink, schools to attend and healthcare facilities to visit than diverting their limited resources to construct a white-elephant project,” he said.

Ogbonna said that the construction of an international airport in Ebonyi is clearly not a viable economic model as Enugu international airport is less than an hour away from Abakaliki.

“Similarly, Ebonyi people can embark on reasonable driving distance to board in Owerri, Calabar and Uyo airports.

“Building an international airport will lead to a forceful takeover of community lands currently being used by small holder farmers in rural areas to help them cope with the debilitating hardships of our time.

“This will negatively impact on the rural economy and may lead to other unforeseen challenges in the proposed host communities of the airport,” Ogbonna said.