Emanuel Ugwu in Umahia
Traditional rulers in Abia State have asked the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, to drop the idea of building an airport for the state, saying it (the airport project) should not be accorded priority in the scale of infrastructural needs of the state.
The monarch gave the advice at the weekend through the Chairman of state Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Joseph Nwabekee, when the governor received in audience the principal officers of the council and the chairmen of the traditional rulers’ council from all the 17 local government areas.
“Abia State started tinkering with the idea of building its own airport during the second tenure of Chief Theodore Orji, now a senator. A committee set up for the project recommended its viability, and a mass of land spanning three local government areas was acquired for the project,” it was learnt.
Ikpeazu, who inherited the airport project from his predecessor, has promised to see to the completion of the project before leaving office in 2023.
It was learnt that though the governor did not immediately grant the request of the royal fathers, it appeared the airport project may not materialise in the life time of this administration.
The governor promised the royal fathers that he would have to consult the state executive council before deciding if or not the airport project should be jettisoned.
While advising for the scrapping of the state airport project, the state royal father’s reasoned that the road networks in the state needed to be fixed first because of their economic benefits to the common man.
Therefore, they advised that Ikpeazu should instead use the funds earmarked for building the proposed airport to fix ongoing road projects; some portions of dilapidated federal roads, including Aba – Port Harcourt dual carriageway; Aba – Ikot Ekpene highway, among others.
According to them, fixing the roads across Abia State would greatly boost the economy of the state, hence the governor should consider it a top priority than construction of an airport.
The governor used the occasion to task the royal fathers to rein in on their subjects, especially youths, to refrain from violence in the forthcoming local government polls in the state.
Ikpeazu lauded the royal fathers for the peaceful manner they selected their executives from the 17 local government areas, noting that traditional rulers constitute strategic partners needed by the government to maintain peace and deepen development at the grassroots level.