Governor Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi states has justified the allocation of N13.7 billion for the rehabilitation of Senator Chuba Okadigbo Airport in Onueke, despite its recent inauguration.
This defence was put forth by the Governor during a media interaction held as part of the activities commemorating Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Day and the 27th anniversary of the state’s creation.
Governor Nwifuru emphasized the need for the airport to operate at its optimum capacity, given the substantial financial investment in its construction.
He stated, “The question regarding the substantial cost of rehabilitating the airport should be posed by every concerned Ebonyi citizen.”
Problem with the airport’s runway
- Furthermore, the Governor shared an exchange he had with a fellow governor on this matter, reiterating his belief that the airport’s founders had noble intentions. However, he acknowledged a critical issue with the airport’s runway, stating, “A fellow governor recently asked me the same question and I maintained that the initators of the airport had germane intentions. They, however, didn’t get the runway right as it is not smooth for aircraft to land.
- The subpar runway condition has led to difficulties for numerous planes and prompted many to avoid landing at the facility. Governor Nwifuru explained, “We believed the issue might have been the runway’s expansion joints and took measures to address it by closing these joints. However, the problem persisted.”
Guidance from the Federal Aviation Ministry
To rectify this situation, the state government sought the guidance of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, which provided a comprehensive plan for the airport’s rehabilitation.
The governor attributed the significant cost of the project to its inherent complexities and emphasized the government’s commitment to selecting the best contractors to ensure its successful completion.
In April 2023, the Ebonyi state government under the leadership of former governor Dave Umahi commissioned the N36bn Airport at Onueke.
The then Governor noted that the project had the support of the federal government with former President Buhari approving the sum of N10bn for the initial takeoff of the project.