Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta
The erstwhile Chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) Ogun state, Hon John Obafemi has written an open letter to Gov Dapo Abiodun pleading with him to urgently commence work on the abadoned Gateway International Airport along Iperu/Ilisan Remo road, Ilisan Remo.
Incidentally, the multibillion naira project flagged off with so much excitement in April 2010 by former Gov Gbenga Daniel is located in between Gov Abiodun”s hometown, Iperu and neighbouring Ilisan Remo in Ikenne local government area of the state.
Hon John Obafemi in the said letter, a copy of which was made available to our Correspondent explained that, due to the immeasurable economic gains such as provision of jobs, boost in internally generated revenue and many others development the multibillion naira project would attract to the state, Gov Abiodun must be able to point to this project as one of his achievements after his first term in office.
The former two term Chairman of Remo North local government, Isara Remo, explained that the construction of the airport project had already received approval of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and was expected to be built on Private Public Partnership (PPP) initiative.
Obafemi, who also represented Remo North constituency at Ogun State House of Assembly between 2011 and 2015 said that the choice of the location of the project was informed by its nearness to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, nearness and accessibility to the end users from Lagos/Ibadan expressway and that it could conveniently serve as waiting corridor for flights in case of flight congestion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
The former lawmaker said that it was however sad that the immediate past governor of the state, Sen Ibikunle Amosun during his eight years tenure buried this multibillion naira project on the altar of bitter politics simply because it was established in Ogun East senatorial district
Hon Obafemi disclosed further that “unfortunately, on January 16, 2018, almost 10 years after the award of the Gateway International Airport Ilisan Remo, the Sen. Ibikunle Amosun’s government awarded another contract for the construction of Abeokuta International Airport at Waasinmi, Ogun State”.
He stated that it was obvious Abeokuta airport was conceptualized for political reasons only not minding its economic disadvantages to the state.
Obafemi said that the attendant financial burden of the Abeokuta Airport was designed to be borne by Ogun State whose lean purse has been overstretched overtime because of the so many bridges and roads Amosun’s administration embarked upon at the same time without recourse to its financial capacity and economic advantages of such projects to the people of the state.
He revealed that “the location Abeokuta airport is skewed to one side and difficult to access to majority of the anticipated end users and will result in terrible traffic jam within Abeokuta the State capital. The location did not consider its patronage by non-indigenes who will definitely form bulk of its clients”.
Hon Obafemi maintained that while it may not be out of place at all to have two airports in Ogun State considering the ever increasing growth in population especially due to its proximity to Lagos State which is land-locked, it is just equitable to ensure that the Gateway International Airport, Ilisan Remo started about 12 years ago is completed before embarking on another one.
Jobaf as the foremost Quantity Surveyor is fondly called also challenged Gov Abiodun to ensure that gigantic economic viability projects in Ogun East such as Olokola Deep Seaport, Bitumen projects and Free Trade Zone all in Ogun Waterside local government were given adequate attention due to their capability to enhance the economic prosperity of the state.