Ikpeazu Defends Reallocation of N10bn Airport Fund for Tradeport Development

Former Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, has responded to recent remarks by current Governor Alex Otti concerning the utilization of N10 billion initially earmarked for the Abia airport project. Ikpeazu clarified that his administration chose to prioritize developing a tradeport instead of an airport.

In a video post on Olu ndi Igbo, shared via the Twitter handle @VoiceOfTheEast on Thursday, Ikpeazu explained that as governor, he had the authority to modify project priorities based on the state’s needs and prevailing circumstances. He emphasized that the primary concern was the prudent use of resources.

“I don’t want this airport now,” Ikpeazu stated, elaborating that maintaining an airport would have been financially unfeasible for Abia State. Instead, his vision was to create a tradeport to stimulate commerce. Ikpeazu pointed out that many Nigerian airports are not viable and stressed the need for a sustainable approach.

“We were thinking about trade port. All we do in Nigeria is airport, airport, airport, and they don’t seem viable,” he said, highlighting the financial constraints. Ikpeazu envisioned a facility where people could shop, rest, and connect to flights, akin to setups in Dubai.

However, realizing the state of infrastructure in key markets, his administration decided to defer the airport project. “At the point we were thinking about this trade port, we realized that the road to Ariaria was bad, the road to Eziukwu Market was bad, the road to Ngwa Road Market was bad,” Ikpeazu explained. Thus, they chose to interconnect these markets by fixing critical roads using the allocated funds.

Ikpeazu proudly listed the completed projects, such as Eziukwu Road, Faulks Road, Ngwa Road, and Osusu Road, all funded by the repurposed airport money. He argued that these infrastructural improvements were more beneficial for the state’s trade and commerce.

Responding to allegations by Governor Otti that the N10 billion was diverted into 32 accounts, Ikpeazu refuted the claims, stating, “We published the 32 contractors. In short, they were not 32, they were about over 20 because the Ministry of Works got money from that, and the Ministry of Public Utilities got money for streetlights from that.” He emphasized that funds were not misappropriated but used transparently for specified projects.

Ikpeazu invited scrutiny, urging that anyone follow the financial trail to see the tangible results on the ground. He assured that all payments were for legitimate expenses related to infrastructure projects.

In his defense, Ikpeazu asserted, “If you follow the trail of that N10 billion, you will acknowledge with your mouth that some jobs are contrary to the opinion that they have out there.” He listed completed projects such as Faulks Road, Eziukwu Road, and Ojike Lane as evidence of proper fund usage.

Governor Otti had previously accused the former administration of misappropriating the airport funds, claiming they were transferred out of the state government account before seeking legislative approval. However, Ikpeazu maintained that his administration acted within its rights and in the state’s best interests, using the funds for crucial infrastructure development.

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