*Says Project Not a Priority Amidst Hunger, Poverty
Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC has called out the state governor, Godwin Obaseki over his decision to build another airport in the state. Edo State currently hosts a federal government-owned Benin Airport. The airport being conceived by the governor would be sited in Edo North senatorial district of the state.
Upbraiding the governor in a statement on Sunday signed by its publicity secretary, Chris Azebamwan, the APC described the idea of another airport as “laughable and disheartening” at a time roads in the state are in dire need of rehabilitation. The statement, titled “OF WHITE ELEPHANTS AND CASTLES IN THE AIR – AIRPORT WILL NOT PUT FOOD ON OUR TABLES” the APC catalogued myriads of developmental challenges confronting the state to which funds for the proposed airport could be channeled.
The party also drew attention to Obaseki’s failed promises to deliver some key infrastructure and industries and accused of “progressive and systematic shut-down” of tertiary institutions in the state instead.
According to Azebamwan, “Whilst addressing an enlarged meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on Monday 7th June, 2021, Mr. Godwin Obaseki said he planned to build an airport in Edo North Senatorial District. The Governor claimed the project was aimed at improving Edo State’s transportation network. And as is to be expected, he said he was in talks with investors, development partners and other stakeholders to achieve the goal. Sooner than later, he will announce the signing of an MOU for the purpose. It is his style and his standard modus operandi.
“It is laughable and disheartening that the governor wants to embark on a bogus airport project when roads in Edo State are in an abysmal state of disrepair and are crying for extensive rehabilitation. At the inception of Obaseki’s administration in 2015, he boasted that Benin-Abraka road would be completed and commissioned within 24 months. He also embarked on the dualisation of Ekewan road as part of his phantom Gelegele River Port project. The reconstruction of Textile Mill road also came on stream. Five years down the line, and nearly one year into his second term, the three flagship projects are still a mirage and a dream Edo people keep hoping will come true”.
According to the APC publicity scribe, “These three projects are part of a litany of failed promises that Obaseki made to Edo people in his first coming. How can we forget the promises of 200,000 jobs, the modular refinery, the industrial parks in each of the three senatorial districts, the Gelegele River Port, stadium in each senatorial district, the power projects, the IT-based College of Education in Abudu, Primary Health Care Center in each ward. The list goes on.
“What Edo people got instead, was the progressive and systematic shut-down of College of Education in Ekiadolor, the Polytechnic in Usen, the College of Agriculture in Iguoriakhi, the State School of Nursing in Benin City, the militarization of the administration of Ambrose Ali University in Ekpoma, the College of Physical Education in Afuze, the privatization of the new wing of Central Hospital in Benin City.
“Vacancies in the State Public Service and Teaching Service Commission through deaths and retirements have not been filled. There have been no promotions. Touts in uniforms have taken over revenue collection and a multiple taxation regime has come into play. Several markets have burned down and the State Fire Service has not been funded to cope with the responsibility of fire control. Edo State Government donated money to other States when fire razed their markets but our long-suffering women have no succor or relief from the Government they voted into office. The security architecture of Edo State has collapsed and is virtually non-existent. Non-State actors have taken over in the guise of vigilantes and the people are now forced to resort to self-help”.
The APC is miffed that “It is in the midst of this chaos and woes, coupled with dwindling oil revenue from Abuja, that Godwin Obaseki wants to embark on an airport project”. Carpeting the governor on the desirability of the airport, Azebamwan described one of his reasons that there are two cement plants in Edo North as “lame”. He wondered “if the lime stone or the finished products will be transported by air,” and urged someone to “please advise Godwin Obaseki to come back to earth and reality”.
He posited that “The All Progressives Congress, APC does not believe that an airport is the most pressing need for Edo people at this time. The target resources can best be utilized to fix our rickety infrastructure, bad roads, run-down schools and dilapidated hospitals”.
These needs, he insisted, “are by far more pressing and relevant to uplifting the welfare of our people” stressing that “The airport project, which is at best elitist in nature, will merely be another conduit to siphon Edo money into the pockets of Obaseki’s consultants from Lagos and Port Harcourt. Edo people are groaning under the excruciating pain and burden of daily living costs. No electricity, no clean, portable water.
“Prior to now, Edo State landscape was dotted with water reservoirs that provided clean, portable water to our people. We had Water Boards. There were water access points on the streets and in the communities. …. The Edo Water Corporation was initiated in 2017 but it has remained a proposal on the drawing board. Portable water is a UNESCO affirmative target. It is key to human existence. The proliferation of boreholes is interfering with the ecosystem. We urge all Edo people to say no to an airport project at this time. We do not need it”.
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