Ebonyi cargo airport and what lies ahead

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By Obinna Oke.

When the colonial masters came to Africa, they gave our forefathers pieces of mirror and bottles of gin in exchange for their gold, diamond, silver, bronze and a good number of enslaved people. They had never seen a mirror and never tasted liquor hence thought they were things of value. Hundreds of years later, some of us would not need mirrors, and I’ve never had one in my room. We’ve also taken up advocacies against the consumption of alcohol in all forms, especially spirits like gins.

Today, many Ebonyians, including the indigent, trooped out in their numbers, some barefooted, some sick, some hungry, some jobless, to herald the Ebonyi State International Cargo Airport commissioning Onueke, mainly because they don’t know what Airport is for. They don’t see it as a mere means of transportation, like the bikes, the keke and the buses.

To them, it’s a status symbol that when one uncultured, erratic and Mongolian id^ot on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram writes that Ebonyi people are pr^mit^ve, one can easily fight back by saying, ‘don’t forget that we have an international airport. Don’t forget that we have 13 flyovers. Don’t forget that we have 15 water fountains. Don’t forget that we have Chinese light bulbs on the floor of our roads. Don’t dare forget. Many more probably think it’s a tree that bears money as fruit, and soon everyone would be rich.

On the other hand, another group who often think themselves brilliant, exposed and sound enough not to be categorized into the same class as the former are all over social media debating about how the Airport should’ve been named after Chinua Achebe, Nnamdi Kanu or Adichie or the late Engr Nweze, and not named after Muhammed Buhari who already has another airport named after him. Their concern with their half-education is the name of the Airport, and they believe strongly in themselves that they’re wise that way.

Sadly, I’m yet to encounter a group beyond the last mediocre class who would see the real cause for concern. No one can see those smiling behind the microphone today at Onueke. No one can see the huge brown bags loaded with billions of naira as they disappear into the coffers of familiar faces; some dressed in kaftans, some in babariga, some in suits, some in agbada and one or two in a white cassock. No one sees that insatiable politician smiling at the precious gold, silver, and diamond they’ve gotten in exchange for fragile and transitory pieces of mirror christened ‘Ebonyi International Cargo Airport’. Nobody appears to see that. No one sees Dave Umahi and his cohort for who they truly are. No one.

Today, 36 billion naira owned by the 4th poorest State in Nigeria has made its way into a few deep pockets, the only persisting educationally less-developed state in the Southeast, the only state in Nigeria that made Nigeria retain Guinea worm status until not long ago yet without any existing functional water scheme, the only state without a tertiary health care centre except the one owned by the federal government, the only state with only seven medical doctors, one laboratory scientist and one pharmacist and less than 15 qualified nurses staffing the entire 13 general hospitals and the 417 primary health care centres in the state put together. A state without any form of scholarship from the primary to the tertiary level, a state that has not employed a single person into the state civil service in the last eight years. A state that, up till today, hasn’t paid pensions and gratuity to her retirees for the past eight years.

That state does not produce a single commodity that any other state in Nigeria relies on; that state has no national or international market in reality, and neither does it have any tourist centre or sporting activity that can attract anybody from outside the state. That same state has gone ahead against all her glaring pressing needs and necessities to build an international cargo airport at the tune of N36 billion to be transporting what no one knows, and about a half more will still go down the drain in the course of maintaining the liability. Just like an artificial bumbum, it doesn’t end in doing one. You must retain it otherwise ‘e go burst’.

Ignorance is indeed the most expensive thing.