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Justification for the Proposed Benue’s n38bn Cargo Airport

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Since Governor Samuel Ortom performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the take-off of construction work for the N38 billion International Cargo Airport at Daudu along Makurdi-Lafia road, there have been divergent views on the desirability or otherwise wise of the project.

While well meaning citizens of the state commend the administration over the project, some persons have risen to criticize it, alleging that a cargo airport would be unnecessary since the state is faced with problems of salary payment and non completion of roads. While some people express themselves on the pages of newspapers, others do so on Facebook and others forms of the social media.

The views being expressed have generated unnecessary controversy, thus creating the erroneous impression that the state government would be spending a whooping sum of N38 billion on the project.

Those creating this negative impression do not know that the cargo airport project would be executed through the public-private-participation (PPP) arrangement which would make the state government to make 15 percent contribution when the airport begins to make profits. Those creating the false impression that the state government would be funding the entire project do not know that the 15 percent contribution would be made from the state government’s share of the profit that would accrue to it from the project.

It is important for Benue people to recall that Governor Samuel Ortom would never put money into projects without considering the implications. Today, those speaking against the projects that would take Benue to higher heights in agriculture and consequently boost the economy and promote employment have forgotten that late Governor Aper Aku who is today seen as the best governor the state ever had, initiated projects like Benue Brewery, the state secretariat, the stadium, government house and so on in the way that Governor Ortom has started.

It must be stated here that the cargo airport project would enable indigenes to have training as pilots, aeronautic engineers and so on. The cargo airport is like the Tomato and Juice Factory Governor Samuel Ortom is trying to pursue to a logical occlusion. The cargo airport is like Taraku Mills which became moribund but is being resuscitated by the present administration. The cargo airport would take care of post-harvest losses, make farmers to have more value for their produce and attract more investors to Benue state.

Many of the industries the governor is trying to resuscitate have a lot of potentials but only those that can see far into the future would appreciate.

We appeal to the citizens to seek information on the present administration’s development efforts in the various sectors so as to avoid misinformation, mischief and deceit. The economic team set up by Governor Samuel Ortom had earlier endorsed the cargo airport project after looking at its viability.

The cargo airport components consist of the general cargo warehouse, the main airport and the airside cold storage facility while 2019/2020 is earmarked for completion. This is one of the projects that would outlive Governor Ortom’s administration. Members of the public should support Governor Ortom who is bent on clearing salaries and pension owed workers and pensioners. Ortom has vowed not to accommodate any government official that is inclined towards swindling the people through award of contracts.

The cargo airport project cannot certainly be a conduit pipe nor would it be a white elephant project at the end of the day. A governor who is trying to recover monies allegedly diverted by the former administration cannot be party to an arrangement that would put his integrity and that of the entire state into disrepute.

Godwin Akor,

SSA, Media

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