Controversy over N2bn Ogun airport project

Sen. Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister

 

Posted by Sade Williams

 

Tongues are currently wagging over alleged expenditure of the N2 billion that was requested for the upgrade of an airstrip at Wasinmi in Ogun State to a full-fledged airport as the Director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, claimed before the Senate that the Authority has no record about Wasinmi airport project but one in Shagamu.

Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, to corroborate the fact that such amount was requested for, for the upgrade in Wasinmi,  had read a memo from the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika on the federal government approval for a grant of N2billion for the Wasinmi airport.

Also, the document sourced by The Travel Port on the Request for the Release of N2bn by Sen. Hadi Sirika, when he was Minister of State for Transport, (Aviation), from President Muhammadu Buhari for the establishment of a passenger airport in Wasimi, Abeokuta in Ogun State in May 2018, shows clearly that indeed, the sum was requested  for the project.

The document was dated May 7, 2018 and received by the president on May 10, 2018 from the then Ministry of Transport with the reference number FMA/DSTP/402/S.86/1/196  and titled: ‘Request for Payment of the Sum of Two Billion only Capital Support Grant for Construction of Ogun State Airport at Wasinmi Abeokuta

The document was allegedly signed by Sen. Hadi Sirika, as the Minister of State for Aviation then.

The ministry, it was learnt, asked for the construction of airstrip around Abeokuta first in 2009, following the assessment report by a Ministerial Technical Team on site selection.

The minister argued that citing the airstrip in the state then among others included the facilitation of VIP movement, Border Patrol, Agro Pesticide Control and Medical Emergency Evacuation in a quest to enhance economic development of the state and to complement the airport in Lagos.

The document revealed further that the defunct Federal Ministry of Aviation had, through “the design and fencing on the airstrip at Wasimi, Abeokuta in November 2010,” granted approval for the establishment of the airstrip, which had since been completed.

He, however, said that Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, who was then the governor in the state requested for the upgrade of the airstrip into full-fledged international airport, arguing that this would further boost the country’s aviation industry.

“…the ministry not only granted approval for the initiatives in exercise of the powers as contained in Part XII, Section 38(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 2006, but also pledged Federal Government support in terms of technical expertise, close supervision and monitoring to ensure compliance with international standards and best practices as well as capital grant towards successful and timely completion of the project, pursuant to its statutory mandate in the sector and in the overall interest of the nation in the strive for attainment of the excellence in service delivery in the aviation industry.

“Mr. President, may I further wish to note that the Ogun State Government has commenced implementation of the upgrade of the airstrip into a full airport at Wasimi, Abeokuta with express determination to achieve full completion as scheduled….The sum of N2 billion has been appropriated in the 2017 Capital Appropriate of the ministry to support implementation of the project in earnest.”

It was not however clear if President Muhammadu Buhari granted the request but the issue was first raised in March by the Senate Committee on Aviation which queried the usage of the money while the DG NCAA denied knowledge of the request for such project.

Meanwhile, a text message sent to Mr. James Odaudu, Director, Press and Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, seeking clarifications on the matter was yet to be responded to.

After calls were also put through to him, he simply said, ‘I will get back to you’.

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