Northern Nigerian Breaking News

REPORT: One year after inauguration, Ekiti N20 billion airport yet to begin operations 

By Alaba Adeyemi

On October 15, 2022,  former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi inaugurated the Ekiti State Airport in, Ado Ekiti. That was the last project he inaugurated, as the governor of the state before handing over power.

The airport cost the state N20 Billion, and one year later, it is still not operational. It has not received any commercial or cargo flight since it was unveiled. In this report, Adeyemi Alaba of Development News Nigeria, DNN looks at the issues surrounding the non-functional Ekiti N20 Billion airport, a year after it was inaugurated.

DNN found out that the only aircraft that has landed in the airport is a military aircraft designed to land almost anywhere. It was hired by former governor, Kayode Fayemi for inauguration where he was accompanied by Hadi Sirika, the then minister of Aviation. Carved out of the old Ondo State in 1996 by former military dictator General Sanni Abacha, Ekiti State currently has an estimated population of about 3.6 million, mostly smallholder farmers.

Ekiti doesn’t only have one of the lowest Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the country, it also ranks second to the last among the 36 states of the federation in terms of what it gets from the federal allocation.

elsamad new

READ MORE: Why we’re introducing e-gate for clearance of international passengers at airports – Minister

In 2022, the year the airport project was inaugurated, the total IGR of the state was at N13 billion while the state spent over N16.282 billion on debt servicing. The total revenue of the state stood at N80.6 billion. This implies that about 20 percent of the budget was expended on debt servicing.

An Ekiti-based activist Olatunbosun Emmanuel spoke to DNN and he wondered why the project was commissioned in a hurry if it was not ready for use.

Mr. Emmanuel said, “I don’t think what we need now is an airport. Even if we need it, I don’t think it should have been commissioned the way they did when almost 90 percent of what is needed to make it work is not there”.

He pointed out that fixing the road between Akure and Ado-Ekiti would have been better than wasting scarce resources on an airport that is not working. “If there is a good road between Akure and Ekiti, Akure is an hour’s drive to Ekiti. With the IGR we are generating, I don’t think we need an airport or I don’t think we can finance an airport project,” he said.

Another Ekiti resident Mr. Samuel Adekunle, a printer in Ado-Ekiti, described the inauguration of the airport as a “bad idea. We don’t need an airport and even if we want to have an airport, it shouldn’t be an airport without the necessary gadgets,” he said.

“It is a waste of money,” he continued.  “A waste of scarce resources. Since they opened the airport, only one aircraft has landed there. Imagine an airport without any benefits to the people of the state”.

State Of the Airport

While still in office, former Governor Kayode Fayemi had described the airport as “a dream come true”.

SAZLlHyFHQPeEmKc 8NApGhzn cGeUPeZ No82ncQ8cKp7HYpc3W Laxt6YE2qTFIhT4Mp48EHhAdjKMeKeaF3Rcel885HdVKSx63xDfWzXirCUUgAOHo9XsA5 6isy8cCTFh0KY4hEu8pZeG0Lc4KIAirport Terminal Building

But when DNN visited the airport in November 2023, construction workers were still working on the flooring in front of the arrival lounge, the air traffic control was still uncompleted, and untrimmed weeds still surrounded the arrival and departure building. No commercial activity was taking place in the environment.

IO8iSfK3S3HaGGvml3AO34KZehHf4qgQpGLK4i3QdWykoAqAZQE 1GvXXoUKhHYwDGq1nCuJLQ APX0Ye1eJFWxtRLDoPger8C6XK4x5eyJRtyYiGSJrGYloM7o g08GwakhzU7WtM6wYLOFyBFDgyk
VzyLuNM2J4dyxCOuxIzq6cie8gGTB8cPtbdTNGvhrsL6SrmAWybHth FxFk5jNZIza2rmChAiwK oCoB2Oud sCUz5Cw351Q8jeC7OCEBS3Cha9d35jrIFrbZ8Luh8D9OPIRBME5FkN3DYOCC57cRvg

The workers with a soldier on site prevented this reporter from making videos of the state of the site. However, the report was able to record a video of the exterior of the building. The runway was being worked on, a reflection that the initial one the military aircraft hired by Mr. Fayemi for the inauguration in 2022 was poorly executed.

READ ALSO: FG to construct 10 new airports — Minister

Several Dead As Landowners, Farmers Seek Compensation

Meanwhile, farmers whose lands were possessed by government for the construction of the airport 14 years ago are yet to be compensated. The farmers who are owed N429 million protested last October accused the government of frustrating their efforts to get the compensation. Chief Awe Ojo, one of the farmers who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said that about 11 farmers have died without collecting their compensation.

Speaking to DNN, one of the farmers’ spokespersons, High Chief Edemo of Igbimo Ekiti bemoaned the refusal of the government to pay the affected farmers and land owners. He said, “During Fayose’s regime, they suddenly came one day and began to destroy our farms. We sued them and the court awarded us some money but Fayose didn’t pay. When Fayemi came, he said there is no need to continue the case.

Potrait of a man donned in White traditional attire with a cap on his head and beads on his neck.

High Chief Edemo

“Some people have received their compensation and some of us have not received any money. Many of our family members have not received any money. In our family, Pa Moses owns the largest share of the Cocoa farm destroyed of the land. He did not receive anything until he died.

“When they did the enumeration, they excluded the palm trees from which we get oil. They said the trees are old. They didn’t estimate the value of the land. Only major cash crops were estimated. Yam, cassava and cocoyam were not valued. I have a large farm of food crops; they were not considered. Yet we have not been paid. They are just inflicting hardship on us.

“Our prayer is that they should not cheat us, we are helpless. Eating has become difficult and some of us have withdrawn our own children from school.”

“Someone like Gowon bought his farm with about five million naira (and lost everything) I don’t know if he is back from his farm. His farm is no longer around here. He lost his pregnant wife in the process. He also had an accident. When you talk to him, you will see that he is already suffering from mental challenges”, Ibukun from Aso Ayegunle community added.

Chief Ojo also accused some officials of the government of frustrating their efforts to get their compensation. “I have it on good authority that after we met with the governor in June, nothing has been done so far because some government officials are out to frustrate our efforts to get what rightly belongs to us”.

READ ALSO: NRC loses 150,000 rail clips to vandalism

He noted that the Biodun Oyebanji-led government of Ekiti State had promised to pay them but also failed.

When DNN reached out to Yinka Oyebode, Special Adviser to Ekiti State Governor on media, he insisted that construction of the airport had been completed and the state was merely waiting for certifications to begin commercial operations.

“Before the governor left, the facility has been completed and an aircraft landed there but to make it an airport where commercial aircraft can land and take off, there is a lot of certifications that need to be done and that is what we are currently doing. These additional certifications with NCAA and some other agencies are additional costs. The facility, it is ready but we can’t begin commercial operations there until the certifications are done and it is not cheap,” he said.

This report was published with support from Civil Media Lab


Comments are closed.