By Tunji Oluwasanmi
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A Non Governmental Organisation in Ekiti State, the Ekiti Justice Group (EJG) has urged the State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi to be guided by the overriding interest of the State, not partisan politics in handling the ongoing Airport Project being executed in the State by the Federal Government.

In a letter dated August 18, 2011 and addressed to the governor, the EJG frowned at a newspaper report of Tuesday, August 16, 2011 credited to Governor Fayemi in which he was quoted to have said stated categorically that Ekiti Airport Project was not his priority as the State Governor.

In the letter signed by its Secretary, Comrade Gbenga Babawibe, the EJG said it was public knowledge that the issue of easy access into the State has been a debilitating factor impeding the inflow of much needed investments into the State.

It noted that one of the reasons why Ikogosi Warm Spring is not attracting tourists was non-availability of airport which has been emphasized by all those who are interested in increasing the revenue of the country through tourism.

“It is for the above and other unassailable reasons that the people of Ado-Ekiti championed the establishment of the Airport by making a huge expanse of land available for the take off of the project. The State Government seized the initiative of the good people of Ado-Ekiti and presented it to the Federal Government.

“The Federal Government did not only agree with the wisdom in actualising the project but made provisions for its implementation in the 2009 budget of the Federation,” the group said.

Disclosing steps already taken to actualise the project, EJG said; “Terrain flight check for site selection has been done, site approval obtained from the Ministry of Aviation, perimeter land survey completed, meteorological data (i.e. Wind-Rose) already obtained from the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Form AC-001 has been collected for completion and submission to Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), guidance materials on the procedures to be followed for development and certification of airport and related technical and regulatory requirements to be met have been collected for necessary assessment; and materials needs for Runway orientation and establishment of Obstacle Limitation Surfaces have virtually been concluded.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that having taken these far reaching steps and also having recognised and made provision for the project in the federal budget of 2009, the project as an ongoing one was only awaiting a nudge from the State Government and by now, Ekiti would have been boasting of an Airport be it a Cargo or a general purpose Airport.”

The group described the issues of sum of N2 billion outstanding with the Education Tax Fund, Federal University and construction of 348 kilometres federal roads in the state, which Fayemi said he has chosen as priority over the Airport project as matters that ordinarily do not require extra efforts.

“The sum of N2 billion outstanding with the Education Tax Fund will be paid if it is established that it is due to the state while the issue of Federal roads is not peculiar to Ekiti State. Without any effort from your Administration, Ado-Itawure road has been fully repaired.

(The contract for its repair was awarded before the inception of your

Government) and on the installation of toll gates on federal roads, we advise Your Excellency to consult with legal experts on this.

“The Federal University issue is not a matter that the State Government can shed tears over. The Federal Government is resolute on having the University on Ekiti soil and nowhere else. The issue of its location within Ekiti and the politicisation of same should not now be an opportunity cost for other laudable projects,” EJG said.

While advising the governor to have a rethink on the report regarding the prioritisation of Ekiti Airport project and consult very widely and wisely before saying things or taking steps on this issue., the group said; “The risk of a contrary position or grandstanding on this issue is that all discerning Ekiti people will construe (or

misconstrue) your administration as working to retard the socio-economic development of the State. This is clearly avoidable.”