By Jonathan Ugbal
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has written the Cross River State Government over the proposed Obudu international passenger and cargo airport seeking a meeting to discuss standards for the aviation facility.
“In specific terms, NiMet Technical team intends to discuss with your technical team on the following with a view to ensuring that standard and recommended practices as required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are maintained,” NiMet Director General, Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi wrote Governor Ben Ayade.
The letter which is dated May 14th 2019 (a day before the State published the invitation for the Expression of Interest) and reference number ‘NiMet/WFS/1034/CAL/Vol.1‘ listed the terms to be discussed as follows:
i. Wind rose analysis for proper orientation of runway;
ii. Survey of Visibility Targets in a standard format;
iii. Establishment of a Standard Meteorological Observatory Station close to the airside;
iv. Standard Meteorological equipment and instruments both manual and automated; and
v. Provision of a conducive office accommodation devoid of obstruction from aerial view.
Mr. Mashi’s letter congratulated Mr. Ayade’s stride and disclosed that one out of the three sites selected and visited by the experts from the ministry of aviation which included staff of NiMet was selected even as the agency pledged its “unalloyed and total support and commitment for the success of this proposed project regarding provision of meteorological services.”
This means that Mr. Ayade may have gone ahead with seeking approvals without consultation and media hype as has been the case with most of the projects embarked upon by his administration.
Yet, a document obtained by CrossRiverWatch shows that the State may be considering the construction of another airport in Ogoja.
A letter emanating from the Land Use Allocation Committee, domiciled in the Ministry of Lands and Housing, dated April 19, 2019 and addressed to The President/CEO of Ralphmich Resources International Ltd of 101 Awwal Road, Asaba, Delta State conveyed the State’s “approval to allocate a parcel of land in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State.”
The letter, signed by the Secretary of the committee on behalf of the Commissioner, disclosed that the land measures “approximately 8,500 hectares” and is located along Mbok junction in Ogoja.
Furthermore, the letter which was a reply to a request from RalphMich Resources “advised” the company to “liase with the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development for the engrossment of a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and other documentations to formalize this allocation.”
Also, the letter said the approval was in “tandem with the Memorandum of Understanding between (the) Government of Cross River State and Ralphmich Resources International Limited dated 20th February 2017.”
Earlier this year, Mr. Ayade’s spokesman, Christian Ita had in a release said the Governor is considering the request of the Catholic Archbishop of Calabar, Most Reverend Dr. Joseph Ekuwem to construct an airport in Ogoja to ease the movement of people.
“I have just come back from the hallowed sanctuary where I have taken so much of his blessings and I have had the opportunity to hear his word of advice which will go a long way to improve my contributions to the service and progress of Cross River State. I prayed for the state as well, and our discussion centered on the prayers, ideas, action plans and suggestions that can lead to a better Cross River,” the release quoted Mr. Ayade as saying.
According to the release, the Archbishop Ekuwem had in a brief interview with Government House Correspondents disclosed that he advocated for the siting of an airport in Ogoja, the northern senatorial district of the state, to ease the hardship faced by commuters and tourists who spend long hours from the State capital to the northern parts.
“If you have an airport in that axis, those who are more interested in tourism can move on straight up to the Ranch. And of course, all these will mean dealing with the issue of good education so that you have the best for your people in the case of human development,” Ekuwem was quoted as saying.
The clergyman also expressed support for the signature projects. “On the deep seaport, we don’t need to tell the world what benefits will come to Cross River if we have the port. Wars have been fought on this globe for people who want to have access to the sea. So if you have a God-given sea, you can improve upon it to allow big vessels berth,” Ekuwem said, adding that “I wouldn’t hide my support for such a project when we have a governor who wants it done.”
On the superhighway, He averred that: “Even if it is not super, provided it is a highway that can take us to Ogoja and the middle-belt and to the north and back. Who gains? We gain.”
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