The Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on Thursday appealed to the Federal Government to fulfill its commitment to the MKO Abiola International Airport by making available its counterpart funds to the project.
This was even as the Minister for Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, promised that having seen the level of work at the Osun State airport, he would brief the Presidency on the request by the state for the Federal Government’s commitment on the project.
Amaechi, after the tour of Federal Government projects in Osun State, commended Aregbesola for the judicious use of meagre resources accruing to the state.
He stated he was in the state to ascertain the level of work done on federal roads and federal facilities located in the state.
The Minister hinted that the Federal Government decided to embark on inspection of its projects across the country so as to know the level of works done by states that are claiming refunds for federal projects executed by them.
Lauding Aregbesola’s government, Amaechi said: “Initially, when the economic meltdown started, I was very worried for states like Osun because of the availability of resources.
“Am I still worried?
“The answer is yes, because the economy hasn’t improved.
“But I commend him for he has been able to manage gradually to continue what he started.
“I thank God for the kind of leaders Osun has in him and his deputy for their being able to manage the little resources.”
Amaechi promised that the committee set up by the Federal Executive Council to inspect Federal Government’s projects in various states will afterwards submit its report to the Council for adequate action.
He said: “I would take back to the President what I have seen.
“I would take that to the President and the he will make a decision based on the information the Council passes on to him.
“We are inspecting federal roads.
“Some of the states have constructed federal roads and are asking for refund.
“So we are going round.
“We have a committee set up by Federal Executive Council headed by Raji Fashola, who is in charge of South South.
“I am in charge of South West.
“There are others too going round the country.”
On his part, the governor disclosed that the Federal Government made the commitment to share the cost of the airport project with the the state on a 50-50 basis when it gave the approval in 2010.
Aregbesola stated that construction of the airport predated his administration, hence the need for Federal Government to see that the project is completed in record time.
Aregbesola stated that the airport, when completed, will be one of the most lucrative in the country because of its cargo and hanger facilities, which is the first in Nigeria.
He said: “We want you to convey our message to the Federal Government on its commitment to jointly fund the airport with our state base on 50-50 sharing of the cost of the project.
“We believe that the airport has huge economic and aviation value to both the country and the state.
“In this regard, we want you to intimate the Federal Government to assist the state with its counterpart funds for the speedy completion of the project.”
In his presentation to the Minister, the Consultant Engineer to the State Government on the project, Engineer Wemimo Adebajo, the airport, when completed, will rank among airports with the longest runways in Nigeria.
On the level of work done at the airport, Adebajo noted that the government, having spent N2.7 billion out of the revised total cost of N11 billion for the project, work could be said to have reached 25 per cent stage.
According to the Consultant, the runway of the airport waiting to be laid with 500 mm asphalt is 3.5 kilometres in length, 12.3 meters excavation and re-filling with laterite.
He added that both sides of the runway are equipped from the foundation with water pipes, which will be the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Adebajo stated that with such a feature, the airport would have been equipped with facilities that will make emergency fire fighting readily available near the runway in case of any emergency landing or fire outbreaks.
He said: “I believe the airport is good for the state.
“The main delay right now is a question of funding and the state is seeking ways on how to make it available.
“When completed, the airport will have the longest runway in the country, width of 70cm and and 3.5km in length.
“The runway is going to take about 60 per cent of the cost of any airport project.
“A lot of work has been done on the runway and there are about eight streams in the path of the runway.
“It therefore became necessary to excavate and build box covets so that the water in the streams will flow unhindered under the runway.
“Besides, the airport will have other facilities built to world standards when completed.”