By Ignatius Okorocha
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has assured that the South East lawmakers and the National Assembly remained committed to the early completion of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
“The committees of the National Assembly are usually given a free hand to do their jobs, but they are structured in a way that every geopolitical zone is represented. That way, they can call the attention of the principal officer from their zone when any challenges arise. The Chairman of the House Committee on Works called my attention to the challenges in appropriations, award, and funding of major road projects and I made my modest interventions to resolve the issues.
“In this case, the South East occupies the positions of Vice Chairman of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriation and also chairs the House Committee on Aviation. Nobody informed me of any challenges concerning budgetary provisions for the Akanu Ibiam Airport.
“Instructively, the National Assembly approved exactly the same N2 billion for the same terminal building in the 2017 Appropriation Act. So, I believe the relevant committees of the National Assembly committees are on top of the situation.
He observed that the South East Caucus of the National Assembly was very instrumental to the realisation of an international airport for the South East, hence, it would be unfair for anyone to play politics with the developments in the 2018 budget by insinuating that he or the South East lawmakers slashed the budgetary provision for the project.
He said: “It is easily recalled that successive military and civilian governments refused to designate an international airport in the South East, despite endless promises. When I emerged as the Deputy President of the Senate in 2007, and with the support of other South East leaders and people, I led a delegation of South East Senators to see the late President Umar Yar’Adua over the matter.
“President Yar’Adua directed the Minister of Transport at the time, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to designate the Akanu Ibiam Aiport an international facility in November 2007.
“Despite this magnanimity, the contract for the facility upgrade was not awarded even when all due process procurement activities had been completed with a due process certificate issued on December 1, 2008.