By C. Don Adinuba
Since the test-landing of two commercial aircraft belonging to Air Peace and a corporate jet belonging to the chairman of the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency, Ike Chioke, at Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport on Friday, April 30, 2021, the whole nation has been ecstatic about the incredible progress at Nigeria’s most modern airport. Apart from being the first time jet planes have ever landed in Anambra State, the airport has seized the national imagination on account of its being built up to global standards in just 15 months without a loan from any institution anywhere in the world. This is a very impressive record anywhere.
It is regrettable, however, that this stupendous accomplishment by the people and Government of Anambra State has not gone down well with a coterie of politically exposed persons who are determined to ruin their own state, all in the name of the gubernatorial vote in the state which will hold on November 6, 2021. The shadowy characters have alleged, for instance, that a whopping two billion dollars ($2bn) has been spent on the airport which has yet to be completed.
Two billion dollars ($2bn) translates to nine hundred and sixty billion naira (N960bn), almost a trillion naira (N1tr). This amount is far in excess of the combination of Anambra State budgets in almost the last 10 years. That is, the s um of current and recurrent expenditures since 2001! This is obviously taking fiction too far. It is preposterous. The peddlers of this rumour are not intelligent. The size of the 2021 budget is one hundred and forty thousand naira (N140bn), the biggest in our state’s history, while the size of the 2020 budget was one hundred and thirty seven billion naira (N137bn).
The budgetary provision for the airport in the 2020 budget was eight billion naira (N8 billion). And the provision in the 2021 budget is fifty million naira (N50m). The 2021 financial year is far from gone and the airport is still not completed. Therefore, the budgetary provision for this year is not yet exhausted. Even if the total amount for the airport is added to that of last year, it will come to eight billion and fifty million naira. It has to be noted that there are ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) which are directly and indirectly involved in the airport development. The Ministry of Works, for example, is building roads and bridges, among others, leading to the airport and within the airport. It may cost about fifty million dollars ($50m) to complete the first phase of this grand airport which is in a class of its own. In other words, it is nothing near the almost one trillion naira AASAwhich the political propagandists who hate Anambra State with a passion are bandying about. They will leave nothing to chance in the determination discredit the state and ruin the homeland of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr Alex Ekwueme, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Professor K.O. Dike, Professor Chinua Achebe, Dr Nwafor Orizu, Sir Louis Ojukwu, Olauda Equiano, Professor Chukwuemeka Ike, Professor Laz Ekwueme, Professor Ben Enweonwu, Professor Uche Okeke, Dr Arthur Nwankwo, Cyprian Ekwensi, Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, Professor Chike Obi, Professor Alex Animalu, Professor Ben Obumselu, Professor Emmanuel Obiechina, Mokwugo Okoye, Sir Louis Mbanefo, Professor Gordian Ezekwe, Chief Arthur Mbanefo, Professor Ben Nwabueze, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, Professor Dora Akunyili, Mrs Janet Muokelu, Chief Jerome Udoji, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and many other world-class achievers.
The State Government has made it an article of faith to limit expenditures to budgetary provisions. The result is the humungous fiscal discipline which has enabled the state to carry out projects and programmes which, as the Joint National Assembly Committee on Aviation publicly stated during its inspection of Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport on March 27, 2021, even richer states like petroleum-bearing ones are unable to execute. No wonder, on August 31, 2020, BudGIT, funded by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, published a report showing Anambra and petroleum-rich Rivers State have the best fiscal responsibility indices of all 36 states in Nigeria plus the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.
If not for the prudent financial management of the state’s lean resources, the airport could have cost two billion dollars ($2bn). Maybe this is the amount which would have been expended on it if the project had been handled by the shadowy politicians whom the great Chinua Achebe most memorably described as “renegades who want to turn my homeland of Anambra State into a bankrupt and wretched fiefdom”.
The Government and people of Anambra State are delighted that the delivery of Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport has been attracting the attention of not just the Nigerian public or the aviation sector or the tourism industry but also leading researchers in financial management, project management and related disciplines. Governor Willie Obiano, by building a world-class international airport in 15 months and without borrowing from any financial institution, has demonstrated, once again, his solid background in banking, auditing, accounting, business management and political leadership. The airport will certainly make a rewarding study in prudent management.
God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
C. Don Adinuba, Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment.