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Igbo Ekunie condemns continued closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport

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…Demands accelerated repairs and prompt resumption of international operations

We, the Igbo Ekunie Initiatives, IEI, comprised of individuals in Nigeria and the Diaspora, IEI hereby condemn in no uncertain terms the continuous delay and inability of the federal government and aviation authorities to abide by the 3rd of May 2021 advertised commencement date for the resumption of international flight operations at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu

We recall with dismay that the Federal Aviation Authority closed the Airport for runway repairs in August 2019 with the projected completion time of December 2019, which unfortunately was postponed to April 2020. The Airport was finally reopened for local flights only in August 2020 while the resumption of international flight operations was slated for commencement on the 3rd of May 2021.

We note with astute displeasure that the advertised reopening date of 3rd of May has now come and gone and the airport remains closed for business without any credible justifications for the prevailing inefficiency.

To our chagrin, no reasons have so far been proffered for this monumental failure of governance, and to our consternation, the authorities concerned have not till date bothered to provide any new reopening date. Is it not strange that similar repairs carried out on Abuja International Airport only took six weeks to be completed and the Airport was promptly reopened as scheduled?

We should all recall that Aminu Kano Airport Kano was reopened exactly on the promised date to ostensibly to cater for Hajj passengers but a commensurate consideration was not accorded to Enugu airport. Please are some people more Nigerians than others?

Igbo Ekunie is consequently compelled to adopt the notion that the unnecessary neglect and abandonment of Enugu International Airport may very well be a ploy by the Federal government of Nigeria to punish Igbo people who heavily rely on this route for regional sustenance and we must also bear in mind that the Enugu airport is a critical national economic infrastructure that contributes to the overall development of southern Nigeria and indeed the entire country.

We record with astonishing disbelief the attitude of Igbo politicians in Abuja who paraded themselves at Enugu to an orchestral reopening ceremony of uncompleted non-functional Airport. Igbo Ekunie hereby calls on the governor of Enugu state Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, former Deputy Senate President Chief Ike Ekweremadu, the House Committee Chairman on Aviation, Hon Nnolim Nnaji and all the other high ranking public officials from Igbo land to interface with the Federal government with a view to reversing the fiscal policies of the government that gravely affect the wellbeing of Igbos and the entire south east.

We maintain that it has been a deliberate policy of the government to undermine the cargo section of Enugu airport with exorbitant and punitive charges to ensure that the airport is stifled and unable to compete. Also we note that even whilst the Enugu airport was in operation, higher airport taxes were routinely imposed on passengers using Enugu airport as opposed to the rate paid by the other passengers using airports in other parts of the country. All these predicaments are undoubtedly aimed at ensuring the non-viability of international operation at the Enugu airport

We warn that the federal government must not subject the Akanu Ibiam Enugu airport to the crude, retrogressive and un-patriotic anti-people politics of marginalisation that has been a cardinal policy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government which has contumaciously kept Nigeria in a perpetual state of under-development, conflicts and societal crisis.

We submit that all over the world, most serious and responsible governments consider Airport infrastructure as very sensitive and critical infrastructure that go a long way to sustain their economic development. In fact Airports are so strategic that they are never totally closed when repairs or upgrades are being carried out. So why should things be different in Nigeria?

We mince no words in reminding the federal government that it amounts to acts of economic sabotage to keep the Akanu Ibiam Enugu Airport closed and this may further aggravate the prevailing separatist agitations by groups who rightly feel short-changed and marginalised by such reckless and unpatriotic acts of government.

We hereby call on the minister of Aviation; Alhaji Hadi Sirika and the Co-ordinator Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu to stop their bizarre cat and mouse game of deceitful delays and as a matter of utmost urgency, take measurable and proactive steps to finalise the necessary repairs of the airport and promptly announce a realistic reopening date!

Signed

Chief Chigbo Uzokwelu
President

Igbo Ekunie Initiatives (IEI)

Engr John Asiegbu
Secretary
Igbo Ekunie Initiatives (IEI)

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