Mr Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, at the weekend, described airport projects being executed by State Governments as elitist projects, catering only for the affluent in the society.
He, therefore, advised them to rather focus on projects that would benefit the generality of the nation’s poor masses and downtrodden.
He gave the advice in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, while responding to questions from newsmen.
Amaechi was in Ogun to inspect federal projects executed by the state government on behalf of the Federal Government.
He called for caution the states in view of the capital intensive nature of projects like airport, advising that unless the socio-economic fortune of such state can support it, they should not venture into it.
“Despite the economic downturn occasioned by crashing price of oil in the international market, some state governors, precisely Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa) and Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti) have embarked on multi-billion airport projects in their respective states.
“Airport project is elitist and will not relieve the poor of their suffering.
“Already has many airports that have proven to be nonviable,” the minister said.
Rather than concentrating on elitist project, Amaechi urged the governors to focus on developmental projects that would improve on the lives of the poor.
“It is the rich people that fly plane. How many poor people know where airport is much more fly an aircraft?” he queried.
Ne noted that the construction of any airport should be backed by economic growth.
“There are some airports that are constructed just for the governors to land and take off. That won’t be ideal for me as minister of transportation.
The minister, however, assured of Federal Government’s commitment towards the completion of new airport terminals of the nation’s four international airports in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.
Amaechi said that he was in the state to ascertain some of the roads constructed by the state government on behalf of the Federal Government.
He added that the construction of railway between Lagos and Calabar as well as Lagos and Kano would commence this year.
“I am convinced that most of the roads have been constructed.
“By the time we write the report, we have engineers, we have people from the Public Procurement Department, they will assess the costs and put it in the report”, he said.
Earlier, Gov. Ibikunle Amosun solicited the support of the minister in ensuring the completion of the abandoned airport project in Ewekoro Local Government built by federal government and in fact it is the oldest airport they have in Nigeria.
“It was built around 1940/41. That was what they were using during the World War and that’s why we have the Commonwealth cemetery there.
“Somehow, after the war, nobody said anything about it.
“But 12 years ago, federal government started to rebuild it again. Everything had begun; contractors were mobilised to site before the federal government stopped funding it again.
“Ogun State is the industrial hub of Nigeria. There is no nation that would develop if the industries are not there.
“For us, it is not just for the governor to land; people would want to move their goods and services; people would want to come to the state and that is why we need an airport here.
“And in any case, the airport in Lagos, where can they expand to? It’s congested,” Amosun argued.