The cold war between the Ogun State Governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun and his immediate predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun manifested at the weekend, as the two leaders differed on the nature of the airport to give priority in the state.
While Abiodun made the case for a cargo airport to support the state’s massive agro-allied development potentials, Amosun called for the construction of an international passenger airport.
The duo expressed these divergent positions at separate sessions with the Senate Committee on Aviation under the leadership of Senator Smart Adeyemi in Abeokuta at the weekend.
In 2007, the administration of former Governor Gbenga Daniel commenced the agro-cargo project in Iperu-Remo in Ogun East, but could not complete the project conceived to support the state’s agricultural production.
Amosun, on his assumption of office in 2011, however initiated an international airport located in Wasimi, Ewekoro Local Government Area (LGA), Ogun West and abandoned the cargo airport project proposed by Daniel.
At the meeting with the aviation committee on Friday, Abiodun explained the significance of the agro-cargo airport project to the state’s economy, especially its agricultural section.
Specifically, the governor told the committee said it would continue with the plan to construct agro-cargo airport at Iperu-Remo, insisting that the agro-cargo airport “is a priority need for the state.”
Abiodun said what Ogun State “is yearning for is an airport that will support its massive agro-allied development potentials.”
He said the people of the state entrusted his administration with qualitative representation to create the enabling environment for a public-private sector partnership, which is fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development strategy.
He added that the decision “to continue with the agro-cargo airport project, located in Iperu-Remo in Ogun East Senatorial District, was made by the state’s joint inter-ministerial committee, which evaluated and placed priority on it, as against the Wasimi passenger airport in Ewekoro Local Government Area.
Abiodun said a lot of verifiable work had started on the agro-cargo airport project, which had the approval of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
He, however, informed the committee that there were no details or information on the Ewekoro project in the handing-over note of the Amosun administration.
“This administration is methodical. The need to have a cargo airport was made by our joint inter ministerial committee and we consequently evaluated the initiatives that were started by previous administrations because government is a continuum.
“After a thorough evaluation, the choice of the airport cargo location in Ilishan was unanimous, it complements the agric/processing factories’ ecosystem in that corridor with access/egress road network.
“To that extent, our decisions are guided by the principles of good governance. Is it fair, just and equitable to all? Is the process transparent and inclusive? Did the people have input?
Is it of economic importance? Will it possibly impact the life of our people? As we must hold ourselves accountable at all times. After all, the people are the essence of governance and we are only holding the office in trust for them,” he said.
On Saturday, the committee inspected the construction site of the international site, which Amosun conceived, but could not complete it before the end of his administration.
Amosun conducted Adeyemi and other members of the Senate Committee on Aviation through the proposed site of the international airport in Wasimi, Ewekoro LGA.
After inspecting its construction site, Adeyemi vowed to fast-track the construction of the proposed International Airport in Wasimi in Ewekoro Local Government Area, Ogun State.
Adeyemi, currently representing Kogi West Senatorial District, disclosed that the project was part of the committee’s concern, saying it had been occurring in the federal government’s budget.
The senator, though could not ascertain when the construction would be completed, said the federal government would consider all available means to ensure that the project would see the light of the day.
“On the completion of the project, I cannot say anything. Ours is to make sure that money that is appropriated for the project is spent on it,” he clarified.
He also hinted that the committee “will meet the Ministry of Aviation for the continuity of the construction in due time. We cannot diversify the economy without partnering with the aviation industry.
The industry is fundamental to development.”
In a veiled reference to the seeming disagreement between Abiodun and Amosun, Adeyemi said politics “will not affect the project. What is important is the welfare of the people. It is obvious that this is a construction site for an international airport.
“This is not a new project to the National Assembly. It is a project that has been in place before now. Wasimi airport is something that has been occurring in the federal government’s budget.
“We are equally aware that there’s another one that the state government is working on, which we visited yesterday,” Adeyemi explained at the construction site of the project.
Adeyemi said the aviation committee would go back and look at availability of funds as appropriated.
In response, Amosun appreciated the committee and also lauded the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari toward the construction of the proposed airport.
“This is not the first time they will be coming here and I also want to appreciate the support of President Muhammadu Buhari; because if not for his support, we wouldn’t have moved this project to this level.
“For me, if it is possible for us to have 10 airports. That is fine. By the grace of God, this airport will see the light of the day” Amosun enthused.