The Ogun Airport
The recent heated argument
between the Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu and the Senate Committee on Aviation over an alleged cargo Airport in Wasinmi Ogun state and release of N2billion for the project by the Federal Government is an interesting subject to take a cursory look at.
While the building of an airport seem to be the in-thing among some state governors perhaps to be counted as part of their achievements during their tenure, most of these airports are soley and wholly funded by the state governments themselves, however, it is surprising that the Federal Government will release N2billion for the construction of an airport in Ogun state when the 22 airports it currently manage especially the international ones are yet to pride themselves as being up to international standards with the requisite facilities.
The local airports are still grappling with old and worn-out facilities and sometimes the facilities needed are non-existent. For instance, the airfield lighting on the runway of the domestic wing of the Lagos airport and other too numerous to mention.
The N2billion grant 2018
Back to the alleged release of N2billion for an Ogun state cargo or passenger Airport.
During the Senate committee’s investigation into the release of the N2billion presidential grant, the Director of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Nuhu denied having knowledge of a cargo airport to be built in Wasinmi.
But he however agreed that the regulatory agency is only in the know of an airport in Sagamu.
Now, whether the airport to be built is in Wasinmi or Sagamu or whether it is a cargo or passenger airport is not the bone of content here, the fact is that an airport is to be built in Ogun state and a grant was alleged to have been approved and the amount is N2billion in 2018. Where is the money? Has it (money) been deployed for the purpose it is meant for? Are there evidence to show that the project has commenced whether in Wasinmi or Sagamu?
Senate Committee sitting/arguments
At the sitting of the committee to look into this matter, there were many arguments by those who perhaps have good knowledge of the said project, the approval, memo written and the proposed site of the airport.
According to the report in the PUNCH newspaper, the Senator representing Ogun West, Tolu Odebiyi, who incidentally was Chief of Staff to the immediate past governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun however offered clarification as he said the proposed airport in Wasinmi was a passenger’s airport, not cargo airport.
“The NCAA was part and parcel of the project and necessary approval was sought and given for Wasinmi. It was not possible to put the agency in the dark about the project.”
But the Senator representing Lagos West and Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Olamilekan Adeola, faulted the explanation offered by Senator Odebiyi, citing the documents presented to the Committee by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
“Yes, the Minister of Aviation is in the picture but the Senate Committee and NCAA aren’t aware, we don’t have the documents. We have listened to you (NCAA) and you have established that you have a record for Sagamu airport, not Passenger airport at Wasinmi,” Senator Adeola noted.
In a document it is alleged that in 2018, the then Minister of State Aviation and now the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika sought the approval of N2billion grant from President Mohammedu Buhari for the Wasinmi Airport project which is reported granted.
The letter with reference FMA/DSTP/402/S86/1/196 written to the President May 7, 2018 titled: Request of Payment for the sum of Two Billion Naira (N2, 000, 000, 000.00) only Capital Support Grant for Construction of Ogun State Airport at Wasimi, Abeokuta signed Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika to upgrade airstrip to a full fledge airport.
According to the letter, the ministerial technical team on site selection considered Mosan- Wasinmi sixty (60) kilometers from the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos as location with aim to facilitate VIP movement, Border Control, Agro Pesticide Control and Medical Emergency Evacuation in a quest to enhance economic development in the state and complement the MMA.
In part the letter says; “The sum of Two Billion Naira (N2, 000, 000, 000.00) has been appropriated in the 2017 Capital Appropriation of the Ministry to support the implementation of the project in earnest….”
“It is in the light of the foregoing and the determination to support the upgrade of the Airstrip in Wasinmi, Abeokuta into a full-fledged airport that Mr. President is most humbly solicited to kindly consider and graciously approve release of the sum of Two Billion Naira (N2, 000, 000, 000.00) only which has been approved for the project in the Ministry’s 2017 capital budget in favour of Ogun State Government as Capital Support Grant as earlier pledged to facilitate timely completion of the project…”.
Why are these matters being raised as to whether the airport to be built in wasinmi or sagamu?
There is a current disagreement between the state governor, Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor, currently a senator, Ibikunle Amosun, regarding which of the airports should be prioritised.
Senator Amosu wants the airport constructed in Sagamu while the current Governor, Abiodun is eyeing Wasinmi.
The Sagamu airport was initiated by the former governor, Gbenga Daniel in 2007 to support the state’s agricultural production.
He had commenced work on the airport but did not complete it. After assuming office, his predecessor, Amosun, initiated a different project, an international airport located in Wasimi.
The controversy started when the committee visited the sites of the two proposed airports with both men trying to convince members of the panel to ensure that their preferred projects are included in the federal budget.
But the NCAA boss has revealed that the agency had no record on the Wasimi project for which N2 billion was said to have been approved for its take off in the 2021 budget.
The crux of the matter
While the warring parties are flexing their muscles in securing the airport project sites in their preferred locations, lets ask: N2 billion was approved in the 2021 budget for take of the airport whether in Wasinmi or Sagamu but what about the previous N2billion grant approved for same project in 2018?