THE Organisation of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (OESID) has faulted the plans by the State Governor, Dave Umahi, to embark on the construction of an international airport in the state.
In a statement, Thursday, by its spokesman, Mr Paschal Ogbonna in Abuja, the group described the planned construction of the airport as “a white elephant project” that might be difficult to achieve at the moment.
Ogbonna called on the governor to shelve the project and prioritise projects that would have direct impact on the people.
According to him, building an international airport involves huge amounts of investment, which may not be available to the state government at the moment.
He stated: “Chances are, such resources will invariably be borrowed either locally or most likely from the Chinese and other international financiers.
“But even if these funds are available, the Ebonyi State Government should not spend it on building an international airport because it is a gross misapplication of resources.”
According to him, there are better and more people oriented investments that will enhance development of the state rather than building an airport that will serve only vested interests.
He said that for example, 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.
Ogbonna tasked the government to “focus on pursuing people 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 huge 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.”
Ogbonna said that the construction of an international airport in Ebonyi is clearly not a viable economic model especially as the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu 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.”