Yobe State Government Friday signed an agreement with JM & AS Enterprises Limited for the construction of the over N11 billion cargo airport to be located in Damaturu, the state capital, the first of its kind in the entire northern Nigeria.
The signing ceremony which was held at the office of the commissioner of Works Transport and Energy had in attendance the commissioner of Works, Transport and Energy, Alh. Lawan Shettima, and other top officials of the ministry and representative of the contractor.
The works commissioner, Lawan Shettima in his address informed that the contractor to stick strictly with the specifications of the contract term to avoid compromising the quality of the work.
The Nation reports that on Wednesday, 13/09/2017, Yobe State Executive Council rose from her weekly Executive Council meeting where it approved among other projects the construction of a cargo airport in Damaturu at the total cost of 11,327,120,487.24.
But news of the airport project was received with mixed feelings among the people in the state as many Yobeans took to the social media to criticized government action for the approval of such a huge sum of money for the project.
Our correspondent who monitored the social media noticed that many were of the opinion that the money should have been invested in other meaning ventures that would impact directly on the lives of the ordinary people in the state.
While others described the project as a ‘terrible calculative development error’ for the state, some see it as a complete misplacement of priority from the Gov. Gaidam led administration to embark on such a project wondering the economic viability and how it can impact of the lives of the teaming common people of Yobe State.
Some of the people observed that the project is completely out of the Yobe State Economic Reform Agenda (YOSERA) which is more of a guiding document for the economic development of the state, adding that neighboring states like Jigawa and Bauchi made the same mistake which they are regretting at the . “How can you have an airport that you cannot maintain”, one of them asked.
Some people are of the opinion that the project will not see the light of the day. Their opinion is that it will amount to a waste of resource for the state just like the billions of naira Late Mamman Ali sank in the boarding primary schools.
The Nation also gathered from diverse opinions that the airport project is one significant development that the state will witness since her creation 26 years ago.
The proponents of the projects argue that the absence of airport has rubbed Yobe State of so many opportunities especially during the Boko Haram insurgency where visitors both local and international prefer to fly to Maiduguri and do their business leaving Yobe in the loop. Because of the absence of an airport in Damaturu, the President and Command in Chief before his election in 2015 could not visit Yobe for his nationwide campaign. This is one big embracement for us too many,” another person had argued.
“Yobe is the only state in the north east without an airport and the state is losing seriously for this. A clear example is that Yobe has been left out in the scheme of things when it comes to visitors coming into the state for investment. Similarly during the insurgency, NGOs always visit state capitals with airport and some relevant decisions are often reached in support of host states. Borno and Adamawa states have often been placed on advantage for having airport ahead of Yobe. To add to it, during the 2015 general election, only Yobe state in the whole Federation did not host Mr. President because there is no airport. Only God knows what his coming would have benefited the state in their state capitals have been considered.”
But the Commissioner of Works, Transport and Energy while defending the action of his governor for the project said, “Gov. Gaidam is in a hurry to develop Yobe. We cannot wait for development to come to us. This is the time for Yobe to take her rightful position in the comity of developed states in the country.
“As for those who are criticizing this project on the social media, Mr. Gov. cannot shift his focus in delivering Yobe from the woods. For those that are doubting whether there is no money or whether the project would be abandoned, they will be disappointed because, the Governor has even said the state is in a very good financial capacity to pay the contractor 90%. As I speak with you now, Yobe is not owing workers or any form debt. Our gratuities and pension of workers are issues that Yobe does not have as other states.
“For the economic benefit of the state, just be reminded that Yobe is the major producer of Gum Arabic in the country and we are looking at the future of the market with Europe, Asia and the United Arab Emirate with the coming of this airport. We also want to take advantage of the Federal Government policy in shifting from the oil to the non-oil sector and this airport will transform Yobe into a huge commercial hub for the country,” the Commissioner explained.