No doubt, the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, by the federal government last year instigated many reactions. Some condemned it because of its attendant implications, such as its impact on the economic activities of the people around the airport. Recall that it caused the closure of Orie Emene market, forcing schools, churches and many shops to shut down. Landowners also cried for lack of compensation to them.
Those who commended the closure are mainly the privileged ones who use the airport as their major means of transportation. They opine that the repair of the airport would guarantee its safety and also build more confidence in the nation’s aviation sector. Before then, the facilities in the airport, especially its runways, were in quagmire.
Already there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the nation’s aviation minister’s revelation that the airport would be opened by Easter 2020. That is good news indeed as the airport would soon come alive again. But there are lessons to be learnt from what played out at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport. First, the federal government’s intervention on the airport was not swift. It took many years before funds were released for its rehabilitation. Kudos goes to President Muhammadu Buhari for heeding to the clarion calls.
But one would rightly berate governors of the southeast states. The closure of the airport and its pains on them specifically informed their unison in visiting President Muhammadu Buhari to come to the rescue of the airport. It was reported that the sum of N10bn was released for the job. One wonders how a patriotic team of governors could not raise such an amount over the years, considering huge sums of funds they mismanage overtime.
Above all, the closure of the airport forced the state governors and other echelons of the region to be using local and dilapidated road networks in the region. In the process, they ‘enjoyed’ first-hand the dangers southeast roads pose to human existence, in terms of their dilapidation and the hazards of armed robbers, kidnappers and the marauding herdsmen.
One would have expected that the governors of the region would have united as they did in the airport to contribute funds or visit President Muhammadu Buhari again to look into these road networks in the region for attention. What they are doing as a stop-gap measure are palliatives awaiting the renovation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport. After that, it will be to your tent O Israel.
This is the time southeast ‘commoners’ should interrogate the kind of leaders they vote into elective positions, and stop clapping hands when their leaders, clad in their white robes in tinted jeeps, wave their deceptive hands at them.