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Why N36bn Ebonyi airport inaugurated in April is being rehabilitated with N13bn in less than 6 months – Odinkalu reveals

By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Human Rights Activist, Prof Chidi Odinkalu has adduced reason why the N36billion Ebonyi Airport inaugurated in April this year, is being rehabilitated with over N13billion in less than six months.

Odinkalu said perhaps, the tarmac was built with cement which is David Umahi’s favourite item.

The Rights Activist who stated this via X (formerly known as Twitter) while reacting to news report that Ebonyi State Governor justifies N13.7bn Airport rehabilitation cost said:

“Ebonyi State inaugurated an airport built supposedly with over N36bn. Less than 6 months later, it is being rehabilitated with over N13bn. Perhaps, the tarmac was built with @realdaveumahi’s favorite item…. cement?”

Sundiata Post recalls that David Umahi, minister of works, was quoted as saying that the federal government is considering making use of concrete for the construction of major roads in the country and that the FG will redesign yet-to-be-completed road projects to concrete pavements.

Umahi who spoke in Akure on 2nd September during a courtesy visit to Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the acting governor of Ondo state, said the use of cement for road construction has been tested in some states, noting that it is cost-effective than bitumen.

While noting that the importation of bitumen is putting more pressure on the naira, Umahi said many roads built on concrete have a “shelf life of 50 years”.

However, the 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.”

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.”

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.

Sundiata Post recallsIn April 2023, the Ebonyi state government under the leadership of former governor Dave Umahi commissioned the N36bn Airport at Onueke.