Anambra Airport: Shock as FG delays Obiano’s ‘victory flight’

Posted by News Express | 30 October 2021 | 815 times

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•Gov Obiano


• Stakeholders Kick Over Suspension Order From Abuja • NCAA Keeps Mum As
Air Peace Warms Up For Maiden Commercial Flight • Amb. Onyeagba Urges Caution
• We Will Go Ahead With The Commissioning Ceremony, Anambra Govt. Insists

The plan to officially open the brand new Anambra International Cargo Airport to commercial operations today has set the state government on a collision course with the Federal Government.

While the Federal Government has directed the suspension of the ceremony, citing security and alleged operational concerns at the airport, the state government said the order was political in nature, hence, more determined to go on with the commissioning for public good.

The Guardian learnt that the order to suspend the ceremony came as a national security concern, coupled with reservation expressed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over readiness of the facility. The apex regulatory body, however, declined to comment on the development when contacted yesterday.

Meanwhile, Air Peace airline said it was also getting set for its maiden commercial flight service into the airport today, though still in talks with the concerned parties.

The state government said the passenger and cargo service airport in Umueri, which hosted demonstration flights in April, had been completed since last month. Governor Willie Obiano had sought the approval of NCAA to open the facility for operations on October 21.

However, there were insinuations that the state-owned legacy project of the Obiano administration has assumed political dimension and was seen as a potential gain for the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) over the All Progressives Congress (APC), among others, ahead of next weekend’s gubernatorial election.

Reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment in Anambra, C-Don Adinuba, said in Awka, yesterday, that the security reasons were more of a political alibi.

Adinuba expressed the disappointment of Anambra people, stressing that most people believe that it was politically motivated. He added that the governor was already discussing with the highest authority in the land, assuring that the issue would be resolved. He stressed that the state government met all standard requirements for the airport, with NCAA monitoring the progress.

“We did everything necessary and in line with international standards, so we could not have been denied approval,” Adinuba said. A resident, Willie Nwokoye, also expressed his frustration, saying forces were bent on messing up the state, and “our brothers are in complicit”.

“Every Anambra market woman knows that this is one in a series of evil booby-traps laid out against a beautifully designed programme of progress and prosperity in the state. The airport got all the permits. The commissioning ceremony fully planned. Invitations extended. Inaugural commercial flights sold out seats. Arrivals being received in calm and peace. The Anambra spirit both at home and in the Diaspora risen peak high.

“Those at the evil end do not know the Anambra spirit. Mark my words, this gangsterism will drive the final nail in their coffin. The consolidated will of the people will triumph. The loudest campaign done for APGA and the most impactful endorsement of this Anambra Airport Project is this monstrous mid-night move.

“The enemies have finally named themselves. Politics or not; election or not; why for goodness sake do they not know that they have pitched themselves against the Anambra people and eternally against the unforgiving Igbo spirit? I sincerely do not understand,” he added.

However, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Burundi, Elijah Onyeagba, has urged those pushing for the opening of the airport to exercise caution, stressing that the safety of passengers should transcend political or prestige considerations.

In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, Onyeagba said, “the reality is that the airport is not ready,” adding that, “what it has at the moment is a runway and a makeshift terminal.”

Onyeagba maintained that the airport was nowhere ready for commercial operation, adding that even the chairman of Air Peace chairman, Allen Onyema, who also hails from the state, could testify to that.

While condemning the attempt by the state government to use propaganda to cover the crucial issues that were begging for attention over the airport, the Ambassador noted that an airport goes beyond civil works.

“Only civil works is what Anambra State government has done; that is all hardware. It’s like buying a computer without operating system.

“Aviation and airport operation are safety operations that are regulated beyond Nigeria, by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). So, NCAA itself is overseen and certified by ICAO, and any violation of such trust can lead to NCAA losing its class A certification status, which will be bad for Nigeria, as all major international airlines will stop flying to Nigeria,” he explained.

Alluding to claims that the governing APGA plans to use the airport project to advance the party’s electoral profile in next Saturday’s governorship election in the state, Onyeagba said: “I am now ready to engage on the airport brouhaha, through factual and dispassionate discussion.

“I have refrained from commenting on this issue, because I wanted to speak from the point of view of information and not from emotions or politics. Now from a very informed perspective, here is the true position from an aviation expert. Official memos on this issue will follow!

“The reality is that the airport is not ready, what it has at the moment is a runway and a makeshift terminal. They still have not concluded with NAMA on the training and deployment of Air Traffic Controllers, the navigational equipment (ILS, DME, VOR) have not been calibrated (all the above is NAMA related.

“On FAAN, they have not trained, certified and deployed AvSec personnel for airport security; they have also not installed security equipment, then finally on NCAA, the overall certification of the airport which will be dependent on NAMA and FAAN completing their own tasks. You have to note that this is a state airport from a state initiative, but all the above roles are federal roles that they have to liaise with agencies and pay for like any private venture.”



(Courtesy The Guardian)


Source: News Express

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