Posted by News Express | 12 March 2020 | 1,018 times
A socio-cultural group, the Igbo Renaissance Forum, has raised alarm over what it referred to as the prostrate state of affairs in Anambra State, especially the proposed Umueri Cargo Airport.
It expressed doubt about the possibility of completing the Airport as scheduled and called for urgent intervention by the state’s Council of Elders before the situation snowballs into total chaos.
Igbo Renaissance Forum called for proper investigation into the so-called airport project because, although $2 billion was voted in 2017 for the project to be delivered within 15 months, up till now, there is nothing on ground to show for the huge sum signifying that the people of Anambra State may have been taken in by the government.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday in Enugu by its International Coordinator, Nze Ugo-Akpe Onwuka (Oyi), titled ‘Anambra on the Precipice, the Umueri Cargo Airport Mirage and the Danger Posed by the Deafening Silence of those who Should Speak’, the group alerted Ndi Anambra both home and abroad that their state “is in crisis and the feedback is alarming”.
According the group, “Our attention was drawn to a communique issued at the end of the first meeting of the Anambra State Elders Council in 2020 held at the Governor’s Lodge, Awka, on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.”
“In attendance were, Governor Willie Obiano; Chairman of the Anambra State Elders Council, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; and Chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Nnaemeka A. Achebe, Obi of Onitsha amongst other dignitaries.
“We read with shock and dismay, the very obvious untruths and the unapologetic, smooth candor with which these were dished out to Ndi Anambra in the communique.
“We would however want to restrict this press statement to the scam known as “Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport at Umueri.
“On April 11, 2017, the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, made headlines with the story of a conceived Airport City Project in Umueri, Anambra East Local Government Area.
“At the flag-off of the project, the Governor boasted that the project was far beyond just an airport. He announced with glee, that the project was an airport city project (Aerotropolis) which, asides seeing to the touching down of flights from all over Nigeria and beyond, would also provide services like maintenance of airplanes; which is a rare service, while the deep oil reserve in Aguleri Otu community, where Orient Petroleum Company is domiciled, would offer services like refuelling of aircrafts.
“The project which is estimated to cost more than $2 billion is for the development under a Build, Operate, Manage & Transfer (BOMT) arrangement of an Airport City.
“According to the original arrangement as stated by the Obiano administration, the Chinese company, Sinoking, is contributing 75 percent, Orient Oil 20 percent, while the Anambra state government puts in 5percent in equity.
“It is significant to note at this point that the 5% equity contribution by Anambra state is in the area of land provision, building of access roads and creating enabling environment.
“Ndi Anambra was told that the project will create 1,200 direct jobs and over 3,600 indirect jobs,” the statement noted.
The Forum went on to highlight the areas of concern, saying: “We are shocked beyond words that the members of the Anambra State Elders Council, chaired by Chief Anyaoku after being comprehensively briefed, could be satisfied with the pace of work, the choice of internationally reputable contractors, the construction to be delivered within the 15 months deadline, the business prospects of the airport, the airport being completed without a loan.
“We want to unreservedly and unequivocally state without any iota of uncertainty that the five points of satisfaction as stated and expressed by the Anambra State Elders Council is not the true position of the Airport Project, and calls for immediate response to Ndi Anambra by the Elders Council for this strange posturing by them.”
The group lamented that as at April 2019, 24 months into the 36 months deadline for delivery of the project, the only sign of activity at the airport site was the clearing of the large expanse of land before the flag off on April 11, 2017, noting that two years after on November 27th 2019, while speaking during the third Anambra Business and Investment Roundtable at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, Governor Obiano gave a totally new completion date of 18 months.
According to the Forum, “It is interesting to note that as at November 2019, we had 5 months to the end of the original deadline of 36 months, counting from April 2017 when the project was flagged off.
“It is shocking that barely one month to the end of the original 36 months deadline, the government of the state is receiving a pat on the back with nothing on ground nor an explanation as to why we have to wait beyond the original deadline of April 2020.”
The group said that Ndi Anambra are being taken for granted with another story of 18 months without telling them why the initial deadline was not met.
“We cannot as at this time, with the way this project is being handled say that the newly touted completion deadline is feasible.
“Rather than employ any Anambra indigene directly or indirectly as bandied around, the farmers have been thrown out of jobs as the land that would have been cultivated was taken for the elusive airport project, while herders are making gains from same land,” the Igbo Renaissance Forum said.
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