MKO Abiola Airport: Questions Osun People Should Ask Aregbesola, Oyetola

 

Dearest readers, congratulations on this year’s Independence Day celebration. 

The issue of MKO Abiola International Airport, Ido-Osun again resurfaced and became the state-wide discussion penultimate week following a motion by the House of Representatives Member representing Ede Federal Constituency, Bamidele Salam during the resumption of the Green Chambers.

Representative Salam, who has at different fora expressed his concern over the abandonment of the project situated in his constituency, announced his activities via his Facebook page on Wednesday.

After the move of the lawmaker surfaced on the internet, reactions started trailing it as it brought back the back and forth argument on efforts made by Osun State Government under Governor Gboyega Oyetola to revive the project he inherited.

Several commentators started taking sides as many loyalists of Former Governor Rauf Aregbesola accused Oyetola of “not doing anything” and gave kudos to Salam for making attempt to revive the project. Aides and loyalists of Oyetola also unearthed pictures of several meetings held by the Governor and relevant stakeholders towards bringing the project back to life.

Specifically, Oyetola’s spokesman, Ismail Omipidan, said while not dismissing the efforts of those behind the motion and not a bill, as an experienced reporter who had reported from the Parliament in the past, mere moving of a motion at the floor of either the Senate or House of Representatives on such a project is not enough to make it see the light of day, saying “Let’s learn to give credit to whom it is due and collaborate where necessary without playing politics.”

The Issues
Ido-Osun International Airport was muted by the administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola in 2010. However, the land has been acquired since the time of World War 2 by the then Nigeria’s Governor-General, Bernard Bourdillon through the Southern Province. A sum of £103 was paid to the Ido-Osun farmers who claimed the ownership of the land.

During the administration of Former Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the project came back to life. It was firstly awarded to Aeronautics Engineering at N4.5bn but later reviewed to N11bn to accommodate some features. After the State under Aregbesola announced that it has spent N3.6bn on the project, the contractor left the site. Why? What transpired? No one one knows.

Aregbesola later brought a concession arrangement with All Works Of Life (AWOL) International Limited. The arrangement was celebrated with funfair but Osun people only saw signing of the agreement and MoU but the airport remains a forest.

Findings by Premium Times has revealed that AWOL was a company registered purposely for the concession arrangement. The newspaper reported that the company was registered three weeks before the agreement was signed and has never done any construction project anywhere in the world.

Analysing Bamidele Salam’s Motion
Since his assumption of office in 2019, no doubt that Representative Bamidele Salam has been doing all his best to bring the project back to life. This reason not limited to the project being in his constituency alone but also because it’s in his local government. A council he had governed in the past. His moves on this matter has at different times pitched him against the State Governor. However, he must be appreciated. At least, for always speaking up for his constituents.

In his latest move, Salam’s Motion which was passed by the House of Representatives, prayed to the House to; Urge the Federal Government to take over the completion of the MKO Abiola Airport, Ido-Osun, Osun State; Urge the federal Ministry of Aviation and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to liaise with Osun State Government to look at the possibility of partnership on the project; and Mandate the House committee on Aviation to ensure compliance.

Road to runway

However, going by media reports, all the issues in Salam’s motion appear to have been addressed by the Governor’s intervention as well, as the Aviation ministry has since visited the project site and are even working on the re-design of the project, having faulted the original design.

From the foregoing, Oyetola too must be commended for not abandoning the project and for keeping hope alive as far as the Osun airport project is concerned.

A Tour To The ‘Airport’
Upon entering through the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, InsightMedia crew saw a large expanse of land with a maize farm beside. “What are looking for?” Asked a man presumed to be a gateman of the Agency. We explained our mission and sought his permission to park our car in front of the gate. A request he gladly accepted. As we moved about 200m in, one of the crew advised that we should go back and carry our car because it seems the runway which was our target destination, is far. We welcomed his advice and went back to carry the car.

On getting to Nimet gate again, another man, presumably, a senior staff of the agency came to meet us. He narrated how they have been preventing members of public of accessing the runaway in the past in order not “create controversies.”

He said, “hope your mission to the runway is not to create controversies? Because we have blocked that road in the past to prevent people from going there”. Our crew replied by informing him that “there’s a controversy on ground”. At this point, we entered this vehicle and took off. “Sir, where are we going? All I can see is cow dunk.” Asked an Intern among the crew. “Let just be going”, another colleague responded. After few minutes of driving, we got the runway. Although we almost got stuck inside the mud.

At the runway, we observed that it’s only dredged and nothing else has been done on it. These pictures can attest to that.

Facts
Investigations have shown that the State Government under Former Governor Rauf Aregbesola spent N3.6bn Osun money on the MKO Abiola International Airport. Even Representative Bamidele Salam alluded to this on his Motion.

The airport project till today is still on paper. Osun can only talk about land and nothing else as the place is just a bush, where hunting can be done.

The Real Questions
The administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola said it spent N3.6bn on the project as reported by Premium Times. Osun people should ask Aregbesola to account for what the N3.6bn used for?

Oyetola, who served as the Chief of Staff in the last administration has repeatedly said his government has not spent a dime on the project. In his recent interview, he disclosed that he had reached out to the FG and it will be taken it over to ensure its completion.

Finally, before the FG deploy apparatus for the commencement of the airport, the state government needs to immediately put the land into use before it becomes a harbour for criminals.

Airport junction

The runway

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About Jare Tiamiyu

A political and sport analyst, public speaker, writer, printer and online personnel. A development advocate with greater interest in SDGs goal 4 and 16.
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