There are indications that eminent lawyer and founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola SAN may have taken over financing the construction of Ekiti Agro Allied Airport, one year and a month after it was hurriedly commissioned without completion by the former governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
Sources close to the revered chief told www.thegavel.com.ng that he has already released N2 billion to continue with the construction of the project.
The airport is one of the white elephant projects embarked upon by the Fayemi administration and was launched in 2019. As at the time it was commissioned last year, the project had gulped N16.5 billion from the N20 billion loan the government took on the project.
The State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Niyi Adebayo explaining the 2023 budget revealed that the sum of N16.5 billion so far utilized on the project was used for perimeter fencing, completion of the runway and taxiway, terminal building and payment of compensation for the farmers whose farmland were acquired for the project.
Sited along Ado-Ijan Road in Ado-Ekiti, almost close to the Afe Babalola University in the state capital, the multi-billion-naira cargo airport was awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd. (CCECC) Nigeria by immediate former Governor Kayode Fayemi in 2019.
It is a category 4E airport which means it can accommodate large cargo – Aircraft. The Cargo Apron 155m x 128m can conveniently accommodate two 747-400. The passenger apron 137m x 100.5m can also accommodate three Boeing 737,” he said.
“The runway length is 3.2km, the width is 60m (45m full strength and 7-5m each at the shoulders). The terminal building is built to operate and process international and domestic passengers.”
However, three months after the inauguration amid fanfare, several projects had not been completed at the airport. It was discovered that the passenger terminal building in the facility had not been completed. The interior, which includes offices, a passenger lounge, and some parts of the floor, have not been plastered. The Air Traffic Control (ATC), which is one of the most important facilities in an airport, is also yet to be completed. The primary purpose of ATC worldwide is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of air traffic, and provide information and other support for pilots.
The non completion of the airport has turned Ekiti State to butt of jokes on social media where indigenes are ridiculed on the basis that their state’s is the only airport in the world where aircrafts land without a control tower. Even on the day of commissioning the only aircraft that landed at the airport was a military aircraft. Guests invited by the governor had to first land at the neighboring Akure Airport from where they were transported by road to Ado-Ekiti for the commissioning.
Sources close to Chief Babalola revealed that he actually started working on having an airport at Ado-Ekiti as far back as 2009 when he influenced the Federal Government to site an airport in the state. The Chief was convinced that many students that attend his University and their parents will make use of the airport. He was reported to have secured the Federal Government’s approval. The state however did not buy into the project as it declined to release the partnership funding required to start the project.
However with the establishment of Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital (ABUADTH), the need for the airport has become imperative. The 450 bed hospital is reputed to be the best equipped hospital in Nigeria that has the potential to drastically reduce medical tourism thereby saving the country from foreign exchange troubles.
When asked about the role of Chief Babalola in the project, Tunde Olofintila, spokesperson for ABUAD said that Chief Babalola did not take over financing the project, but that “it is true that he is actively involved in rendering positive assistance in different directions to ensure a timeous completion of the Airport in the next few months”.
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