The picture you are seeing there is not an old picture. It’s a very recent picture of machinery on site, tumbling-over people’s farmlands for the Obudu International Passenger and Cargo Airport, with only 14 Saturdays to the Obudu New Yam festival.
Now, I have five reasons why in my opinion, the idea of another airport in Obudu is in bad taste.
1. Return ticket for a one hour flight is average N50k. The average monthly salary in Cross River, a civil service state, is 65k-70k. Who are those with the financial wherewithal to fly even locally not to talk of internationally, and to where exactly?
2. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (Ayade’s pal), has approved the construction of a coastal rail line routing Obudu – Calabar – Uyo – Aba – PH – Yenagoa – Otuoke – Ughelli – Warri – Sapele – Benin – Agbor – Asaba – Onitsha – Benin – Ore – Ijebu Ode – Sagamu – Lagos. This is expected to lift 12million commuters annually. Nobody needs a cargo airport in Obudu when this rail line is completed by 2023.
3. Our State has an existing airport in Calabar with only two half-filled flights per day. This is in addition to an existing air strip in Bebi, which was constructed by the former governor Donald Duke in Obanliku, (a very short distance from Obudu town), and upgraded by former governor Liyel Imoke to include an Instrument Landing System and recalibration. Liyel Imoke also acquired an aircraft for shuttles between Calabar and Obudu, but this aircraft was sold by Governor Ayade only three years after assuming office. Is it the same Governor Ayade who did not see why funds were being ‘wasted’ to subsidize the cost of flights between Calabar and Obudu at the time, that now wants to build an international airport in Obudu? Till date the Ayade government is yet to account for the whereabouts or proceeds from the sale of the aircraft.
4. Governor Ayade himself is in the process of constructing a 6 lane “super highway” which according to him, will reduce the travel time between Calabar and Obudu from six hours to two and half hours. What exactly is the economic sense in building another airport in a place that both the super highway and the coastal rail line will terminate?
5. A vast 9km square of farmland arbitrarily acquired by giving all three villages 6million Naira combined as compensation, disbursing N1,500 from back pockets for every palm tree felled and between N5,000 and N15,000 for every cassava and yam farm destroyed, will only lead to communal wars over land disputes in the near future. Owing to lack of farmlands and the obscure land boundaries that will result from this exercise, these annexed communities will be perpetually at war with themselves and their neighbours in search of land to farm.
I do not think that Governor Ayade has all the time in the world to do all the good things he has in mind for our state.
Four years are gone already and most of the governor’s signature projects are still not completed. The airport was not one of the signature projects. It’s a spur of the moment decision. That effort can be aggregated into delivering the signature projects.
Maybe I need to continue to remind my dear brother, the governor that: Your Excellency, effectively, after May 29, you have only two years to work. After the two years, 2023 campaigns will be in top gear. Bill boards, posters and jingles will be everywhere and there will be some aspirants that will even be more popular than you. Even your closest appointees will also be aligning anew by then. The last two years, particularly the election year, will see you having no time to achieve anything other than fighting for your succession. Ask Imoke what he went through the last 18 months to bring you in. The struggles made him abandon governance and earned him the sobriquete “sleeping governor” when gabbage took over the whole town. He handed it to you.
That is the cycle Sir. You won’t be able to change it. It will just catch up with you. There is no need for this your new adventure. It is actually very very unnecessary.
Thank me later.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.