MAIDEN FLIGHT TO AN UNCOMPLETED ASABA AIRPORT: A PUBLICITY STUNT!
The long awaited promised date of the first flight to Asaba Airport by Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, governor of Delta State finally came on Thursday, March 24, 2011. The landing of an Overland operated aircraft No. 5N-BND at the Asaba Airport was greeted with mixed feelings. To some political boot lickers and court jesters in Uduaghan’s government, it was a great accomplishment, but to a good number of Deltans in the vanguard for good governance based on accountability, it was yet another disappointing outing for a government whose disapproval rating continues to soar. This is indeed another political gimmick, a charade and a gratuitous insult on the good people of Delta State.
As at today, Asaba Airport project is less than 60% completion in terms of physical structure and virtually no navigational and aviation fitting equipment for an international airport. More scandalous of this high profile deceit and fraud is that, the runway of this airport is still under construction, while a major part of the terminal building is even unroofed. So why the sudden rush to land a second-rate aircraft in an uncompleted airport? Why the media blitz? Why the hurry to propagate falsehood ostensibly to deceive and fool the people?
The landing of an Overland operated aircraft at the Asaba Airport by His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, just 23 days to the gubernatorial election in Delta State could be likened to the proverbial tortoise in legendary stories of deceit. The Overland aircraft No. 5N-BND, which landed in Asaba International Airport on Thursday March 24, is a light aircraft that can land on 1.5 set of runway and even on an earth soil. So let not His Excellency congratulate himself yet as there are serious technical issues yet to be addressed on the airport project.
In all honesty, one wonders what Uduaghan really wants to achieve by landing a small aircraft in an airport that is less than 60% completion; a Publicity Stunt? or to test-run the world class equipment supposedly deployed to the airport? or perhaps vindicate himself and his accomplices for the over 500% upward review of the airport project from the initial sum of N7billion to N12billion, later N22billion and N40 billion. Curiously, the actual cost of this project remains subjective and largely speculative as the contractors and accomplices in Uduaghan’s government had at various times, given different and conflicting figures as value of the Asaba airport.
Could the landing of a small and relatively unknown Overland aircraft at the Asaba Airport, with Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, his Deputy, Amos Utuamah and the crew be the fulfillment of a promise made? If the answer is in the affirmative, then we must congratulate Governor Uduaghan for landing at last, a small aircraft in Asaba Airport which has gulfed over N22 billion with less than 60% completion since commencement of the project in 2008.
Again we ask:
1. Why the continued delay in the completion of Asaba airport regarded as Uduaghan’s star project in Delta State?
2. Why fly in an aircraft to an airport that is less than 60% completion when there is no emergency?
3. What was the assessment rating of the airport by relevant regulatory authority such as FAAN, NCAA, IATA etc. before the maiden flight and why were they not on board the flight to Asaba?
4. When exactly is the completion and commissioning date of the airport?
Controversies continue to trail the handling of Asaba international airport among other projects as conceived by the Uduaghan government, probably due to lack of due process in the award and execution of contracts or deliberate manipulation of projects to serve as a conduit pipe to drain the state.
The overt manipulation of Asaba airport project has called to question the sincerity of the contractor handling the airport and Uduaghan’s government to deliver to Deltans, a world class airport.
In all of these, we wonder what has happened to such moral code as due process, due diligence, best practices, good governance, Servicom etc. in relations to the high level of deceit and manipulation with impunity of the people of Delta vis-à-vis this project among others in the state. A trajectory of Uduaghan’s administration in Delta State to say the least is a tragedy.
Again, this act of deceit has found an echo in the heart of Deltans and millions across the world. Fortunately and unfortunately, Asaba Airport project among other projects in Delta State is already an issue in the electioneering campaign and will form the basis of the final decision of the electorates at the poll come April 16, 2011.
"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it"- ALBERT EINSTEIN
On the Election Day, we implore Deltans to pray to God and go to the polling unit, vote and vote wisely. Avoid any form of malpractices and violence.
We shall overcome! God Bless Delta, God Bless Nigeria!
Written by Dr. Kevwe Miller and James Ikechi.