Southeast Governors’ Forum on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to defer the closure of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu to end of October 2019.
According to a letter addressed to the President and signed by Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, the governors said the postponement of the closure will enable them to make adequate arrangements for airport users in the zone as well as carry out some remedial works in the Airport.
The Federal Government, through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, General Manager in charge of Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, had at the weekend revealed that it will close the runway at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for major repairs and works on the airfield.
But the Governors said the closure of the Enugu Airport was prompt and will not give them any time to make adequate security arrangement for the convenience of the people and visitors to the zone who would be travelling long distances to alternative airports where flights would be diverted to following the closure.
The Governors called on the President to direct the Aviation sector of the Federal Ministry of Transport to provide immediate palliatives in form of transportation with armed escorts and helicopter services to prospective passengers from alternative Airports that connect the zone.
The Governors averred that Federal Ministry of Works in collaboration with the South East Governors’ Forum should be directed to carry out palliative repairs on the major roads leading to the alternative airports as well as clear all the bushes along the routes for better view of road users.
They asked that 24-hour joint security patrol be provided for the safety of the people and visitors to the South East who will be using the roads day and night through the alternative airports.
The letter reads “the South East Governors’ Forum highly appreciates Your Excellency Mr. President for granting our request for the immediate resurfacing of the tarmac and extension of the runway of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for public safety.
“May we use this opportunity to also thank you for the consistent progress of works at the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha and other federal government projects in the South East especially the completion of the Zik’s Mausoleum in Onitsha and 2.8 megawatt solar power plant at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State.
“As we thank you Mr. President, we are constrained to ask for your kind intervention in the observations we have made to the Federal Ministries of Transport (Aviation sector) and Works on the closure of the airport for the renovation works.
“Your Excellency, in our letters to the respective ministries, we observed that the notification of the closure was prompt giving us no time to make adequate arrangement for the security and convenience of
our people and visitors to the South East who will be travelling long instances to alternative airports where flights will be diverted to.
“We request that the closure of the airport be deferred to the end of October, 2019 to enable adequate arrangements to be made for security of the airport users and for few remedial works within seven (7) days to be carried out at the tarmac to ensure safety.
The Governors also asked the President to approve their earlier resolution banning herdsmen without cattle and movement of cattle by foot in the zone.
This, they said, is to eliminate increasing cases of killing, maiming, raping of women, kidnapping of the people and destruction of farmlands mostly carried out by herdsmen with the backing of some compromised local herders.
“That Mr. President do approve the earlier resolution of the South East Governors banning herdsmen without cattle and movement of cattle by foot in the zone to eliminate increasing cases of killing, maiming,
raping of our women, kidnapping of our people and destruction of our farmlands mostly carried out by foreign herdsmen and in most cases with the backing of some compromised local herders.
“We plead with Mr. President that we publish this letter to assuage our people’s feelings who erroneously think that no efforts are being made by the leaders of the South East to tackle insecurity and economic challenges facing the zone and to let them know that her leaders before now have been working very hard without making noise as issues of security must not be discussed in the public.”, they concluded.
Source: The Nation