Anambra State Government officials have since early this morning been inundated with inquiries by Nigerians throughout the country and beyond about a supposed claim by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, before the Senate Committee on Aviation yesterday that the Federal Government is building 10 airports in the country, including in Anambra State.
Much as we are convinced that the minister was misrepresented by the report in The Punch today because only one news medium published the claim which was supposedly made in public before a battery of journalists, we consider it imperative to state certain key facts about ongoing airport development in the state for purposes of historical accuracy.
2. The Federal Government is not building any airport in Anambra State, even though it appreciates the need for an airport in the state given the huge population and the universally acknowledged dynamism of the people who constantly travel around the world. Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport at Umueri in Anambra East Local Government Area is being developed solely by the Anambra State Government.
3. It is one of the two biggest airports in Nigeria. Its runway is 3.7 kilometres long. Its control tower is made up of 11 storeys, the tallest in Nigeria. The airport is the most modern in Nigeria, designed to revolutionize commerce in Nigeria, particularly export and import business. Anambra people are easily the greatest importers in West Africa, and the people have 63 major markets, including the famous Onitsha Market, the biggest open market in West Africa. Modern and big as Anambra State International and Passenger Airport is, the state government is building it without a loan from any financial institution anywhere in the world. The other mega projects being executed by the state government without credit facilities from any financial institution include the International Conference Centre in Awka, with 10,000 – sitting capacity, the largest in Africa, and the Awka City Stadium.
4. The Federal Government has been very cooperative in developing the airport. The state government, for instance, has been working closely with the Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). On October 5, 2020, Governor Willie Obiano, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at State House in Abuja, visited Minister Sirika where they discussed progress on the airport. James Odaudu, the Director of Public Affairs in the Ministry of Aviation, subsequently issued a statement with the caption “Sirika lauds Gov Obiano as Anambra Cargo Airport Ready in April 2021. It read in part: “The minister said that the project will positively impact on the economic development of the state and the Southeast region as a whole and that the Federal Ministry of Aviation and its agencies will always give the necessary guide and cooperation to states embarking on such projects in order to ensure that all internationally set standards are met.
“According to Sirika, airports can be viable if they are built with specific objectives in mind, and expressed the belief that the Anambra airport will be successful in serving the interests of the trading population of the state and environs”.
Chief Allen Onyema, chairman of Air Peace, West Africa’s biggest airline, is among aviation chiefs who have visited Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport in recent days and expressed strong views about the vision and foresight and commitment of the state government in building the airport which will last for up to 100 years because of the quality of the materials and the competence of the contractors. The airport will be ready for commissioning in April, 2021.
The people and government are delighted that the state is now living up to its reputation as the Light of the Nation.
C. Don Adinuba
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.