Construction of the Obudu International Airport in Cross River state has received further impetus as the five host communities where the project is sited have declared their absolute support for the project.
This is even as Governor Ben Ayade disclosed that the Airport, when completed, will boost the state’s economy through export of ornamental flowers and other resources found in abundance in Northern Cross River.
The communities; Atiekpe, Ikwuomkwu, Igwo, Okamibi and Abonkib made the declaration Monday in their separate presentations during an interactive session with the governor at the project site.
The five communities disclosed that in view of the enormous economic spinoffs that will be derived from the construction of the airport, they freely donated their land to the state government.
Most of the youths that turned out for the meeting displayed several placards with messages of support for the governor and the projects.
“We are extremely proud that Igwo is one of the communities that donated land for this project. We are happy that in our life time, Igwo will be hosting an airport. This airport will bring jobs and development to our people. We are grateful to His Excellency,” a representative of the Igwo community said in his presentation.
On his part, the Councilor for Obudu Urban Ward 2, Honorable Emmanuel Akomaye stated that contrary to insinuations, the land was not acquired by government, but was freely given.
“Nobody forced us to give up our land. Our land was not acquired by government for this airport project, it was freely given,” Akomaye said.
On his part, the Clan Head of Abonkib in Obudu Urban 1, His Royal Highness, Augustine Ikashi, said the people were fully behind airport project.
The royal father said the project when completed will bring development to the area.
“It is not because the governor is our own son, but because we need development, because we love progress, therefore, we are fully behind the airport project. We believe it will bring development to the entire community.
“I think the project is the only good thing that has happened to Obudu and Cross River State. So if we have this International airport, Obudu is going to be on the world’s map.”
Responding Governor Ayade disclosed that the state government has so far paid N500 million as compensation to the communities that donated their land for the project.
He expressed optimism that in no distant future, the airport will be completed and operational as the federal government has already given the necessary approvals.
His words: “We are right here at the site of an international cargo airport in Obudu, Cross River State. The intention of this airport is to provide cargo support services and export of ornamental and special flowers from the Obudu Cattle Ranch. As you are well aware, a country like Kenya does average of 39 million Euros annually exporting flower from an altitude even less than that of Obudu cattle ranch.
“So for Cross River State, we need to have an airport here to be able to assist us take advantage of the Obudu cattle ranch. More so Obudu Cattle Ranch is a beautiful place of nature which has been heavily under utilised because of access. So we are building an airport that can allow us benefit from the full potentials of the ranch.”
Continuing, Ayade stated that the airport will also help create access to the rich agricultural potentials of Northern Cross River to the world.
“We have very very essential elements to find which is the agricultural heritage of Cross River State and with all the precious stones available to us, the cargo airport will be very critical”
On the land donated by the Obudu communities for the project, the governor said: “N500 million has been paid and the work is going on. And as you can see the communities are celebrating, they are excited that I have come here in person to speak to them and hear their concerns with a view to addressing them.
“Every single contributing village here today is excited about the potential of this airport. And we have also received the approval from the Federal Ministry of Aviation already. We have all the necessary approvals and construction work is on going. We are working very hard to see that this airport is ready by the close of this year.”
Earlier, the Cross River state Commissioner for Aviation, Dr Jacob Otu Enyia disclosed that the airport runway will be the longest in the country at 5.6km.
“We have also been able to remove the top soil and the next phase will see us go into filling to attain the required level as requested by the consultant,” the Commissioner quipped.