Following the visit of Igbo leaders to Aso Rock last Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of N10 billion Special Intervention Fund for immediate repairs and upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International airport, Enugu.
The President gave the approval following pleas by leaders of the South East region who visited him in Abuja and requested a declaration of a State of Emergency and deployment of contractors to the airport and interstate roads in the region.
The leaders, including serving and former governors, traditional as well as religious leaders, also bemoaned the slow pace of work on the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, adding that contrary to the earlier promise that the airport would be ready for use in November, indication on the ground did not show that it would be ready.
They had lamented the state of infrastructure in the region, which they said has been worsened by the closure of the airport, since the 24th of August.
Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, who presented the region’s requests to the President, said unless something urgent and drastic was done, the state of the roads in the region might disrupt the usual rise in the level of socio-economic activities that takes place in the region during Xmas season.
But Buhari, in a swift response, ordered the release of the fund, adding that he was “aware of the central nature of the airport, which was closed for repairs since August 24, to the socio-economic development of the Southeast”.
The President also said he was aware of the infrastructure deficits all over the country occasioned by lack of judicious use of available resources in the past, but declared that his administration was working on remedying this situation.
“I personally firmly believe that if we get infrastructure correct, the roads, rail, power, most Nigerians will mind their businesses, they would not even care who is in government. But when you deny them infrastructure, it will be difficult for them to compete and move across the country and regions.
He, therefore, appealed to the governors to explain this position to their people.
The South East leaders also appealed to the federal government to extend the rail as well as the gas pipeline projects to the region as part of infrastructure development.