Anambra Airport City and Osita Chidoka’s Tales by Okechukwu Anarado

It goes beyond rational doubts that one of the biggest stories of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration in the past three years is the Anambra Airport City project at Umueri in Anambra East Local Government Area. Besides the 1,500 hectares of land on which the Airport City is designed to sit, the $2bn project is being domiciled in the state at no other cost to either Ndi-Anambra or the State Government. A consortium of Chinese and Nigerian firms bear the cost of constructing and managing the facility which, on completion, will comprise an international airport with two runways, shopping malls, industrial and business parks, a five star hotel and a well appointed Chinese neighbourhood. Apart from its function as an international airport capable of landing any size of airplane, Umueri would provide refueling facilities for international aircrafts on transit. The aviation fuel will be sourced from Orient Refinery, an indigenous firm in the locality. 
Umueri Airport City project runs a BOMT plan where the financiers will Build, Operate, Manage and Transfer the project to the state in the course of time. The airport will provide over 1,200 direct jobs and well over 3,600 indirect jobs. Again, the Umueri community, on whose land the project is directly domiciled, will in perpetuity receive 3% of the net profit annually as the project manager’s response to corporate social responsibility international best practices.
Residents of Anambra heartily celebrated the flag off of the project on the 11th of April, 2017 at Ivite, Umueri. Noted across the globe as entrepreneurial, adventurous and resilient above their peers in any part of sub Saharan Africa, Ndi-Anambra are most enthusiastic and anxious about the fruition of this impressive initiative. They interpret the scheme as the boldest measure ever taken by any government in South East Nigeria to place the business world, with its expansive opportunities, at their reach. For this, the people are very eager to see the Airport City objectified within the projected thirty six months schedule.
When therefore some muffled voices that first found vent in the free windows of the social media started pigeonholing the efficacy of the airport project in enhancing the State’s economy and the citizens’, one wondered what economic rationales or political persuasions underpinned such argument. Until Chief Osita Chidoka recently declared the airport project a white elephant scheme, the puzzlement about the probable source of the earlier syndicated outbursts subsisted. His claim lends a proper angle to the muffled narrative. Probably driven by the fancy of a fleeting moment of service as Aviation Minister, Chidoka thought of scoring a bull’s eye by picking holes in Gov. Obiano’s airport scheme; the conclusions would then be that the oracle of aviation has spoken, so Obiano’s airport and the people’s enthusiasm would be consigned to linger, if not languish, perpetually in limbo. But Chidoka might just have chosen to cut the nose simply to satisfy a malicious urge to spite the face. His languid stint with aviation and his fledgling political sentiments to govern Anambra State come 17th March, 2018 cast questions on the efficacy of this critique of his. The statement may have attracted odium to the Chief as it has compelled a reminiscence of the ex-minister’s presence in the ousted administration, during which he hardly attracted any marginal value to aviation either in the South East or elsewhere.
Now that Chidoka can stake anything within his reach to covet Chief Obiano’s seat, he has chosen to lead a childlike advocacy against a project he should have ordinarily leveraged on to gain mileage in his electoral stake. He simply went the way of the opposition in the state who still find it odd to acknowledge any good in Obiano’s reign. Not even Anambra’s most sought after security/safety brand, the workers’ welfare priority schedule, the various aspects of grassroots economic mobilization and empowerments; not the growth in education, the infrastructural uplift (all achieved under excruciating national economic recession) merit any kind word from the opposition.    
It would have been strange if the palpable joys Ndi-Anambra express in the Aero City missed the attention of those wishing Obiano’s administration poor performance as an excuse for their exegesis on alternative government. But Obiano would not falter in his strategic approach to governance. His economic enablers, with security of life and property on the lead, have continued to increase and improve private sector driven economic activities in Anambra State so much so that the squeeze of the national economic woe is ameliorated in the state. The security in Anambra has made Government’s economic and other policies flourish. It is the same stability in the polity that attracted huge private investments of over $3bn in the agricultural sector that has brought the consortium of Elite International Investment Limited, Sinoking Enterprises Investment Limited and Orient Petroleum Resources Limited to do the Umueri Airport City Project. And just as Coshed Farms, Anaku; JOSAN Farms, Ufuma; DelFarms, and Lynden Poultry Farm, both at Igbariam, operate at no incidental costs to either the Government or people of the state, the Umueri project is by no means any kind of mortgage as Chidoka and his co-travelers would want to make the world believe. The terms of engagement of these firms with the State Government encumber neither the present nor the future of their host communities or the rest of Ndi-Anambra’s.
By the way, should a shallow utterance on Umueri Airport City by someone whose desperation to drive Anambra State affairs has ensnared and made vulnerable even in his earlier postulation that ‘People leaving PDP … are political jobbers with no character … with no principles … who have never won any free and fair election in Anambra’, constitute any perturbation to the lofty political values of the Anambra electorate? Osita Chidoka, a United Progressive Party’s proselyte today, will soon denigrate the party faster than he just did PDP where his cake was baked beyond doubts.
Okechukwu Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu                  
Anambra Airport City and Osita Chidoka’s Tales by Okechukwu Anarado Anambra Airport City and Osita Chidoka’s Tales by Okechukwu Anarado Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Monday, June 26, 2017 Rating: 5

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