The arrival of development is here, now Ekiti State may soon start constructing an airport as scooped from the grapevine. Who will not want development such as an Airport? By now communities must have been tussling over where to site the project even within the precinct of the State’s capital. There should be a big buzz now about how Ekiti people home and abroad will be able to glide in the air in and out of the State. All these are lovely expectations no doubt but whether true or not, can we for a moment look at the plausibility of such a venture!
Let’s look in the economic direction of this beautifully homogenous State which was created on the 1st of October 1996 with a total land area of 6,353 km2 (2,453 sq mi) and an estimated population of 2,737,186 as at 2005. The economy of this project vis-a-vis the glaring realities on ground will no doubt boost the hospitality industry albeit minimally, it ‘might’ help the burgeoning tourism industry of the State, artisans will have a little boost in the course of the project while I can’t say that much about the local contractors. To the mass of the purely agrarian Ekiti community, an Airport will at best serve a veritable sight-seeing scene for amusement and nothing really much more.
One remembers the commissioning of Ibadan International Airport by Alhaji Shehu Shagari, within 24 months of its commissioning, it was abandoned but later found partial use by the military. The Oshogbo Airport is ruining Osun State financially. The Akure Airport is underutilised. My concern is the pertinence of an Airport when there’s a grossly underutilized one in the neighbouring Ondo State capital of Akure? “The calculated flying distance from Ado-Ekiti to Akure is equal to 26 miles which is equal to 41 km. If you want to go by car, the driving distance between Ado-Ekiti and Akure is 49.75 km. If you ride your car with an average speed of 112 kilometers/hour (70 miles/h), travel time will be 50minutes. What are we really talking about here?
I think the facts should be properly considered. I won’t even go to the fact that Ekiti State ranks among the least three States in Federal allocation roll, that isn’t an issue anyway because there are a thousand and one ways to kill a rat. Like the Osun State Airport which I believe is unnecessary, wasteful and untimely, the Ekiti project might not be anything lesser. These projects end up servicing mainly the sitting government officials and if it’s about their desperate need, a helipad may not be a bad idea. I love Ekiti, I desire her growth just opposed to perceived misplaced priorities.
If we have that kind of fund, can’t we invest it in agriculture? Can’t we massively build silos round the state enough to store our produce and even that of some neighbouring States? Can’t we build mechanized farms in the magnitude of Obasanjo Farms and the likes and massively take our teeming youth off the streets? Just my muse as I beg your pardon.
I am of the opinion that there could be some things you need and can’t afford and there are equally things you can afford but don’t need; time and chance happens to them all. In this wise, Ekiti can neither afford nor need an airport ‘for now’, by ‘tomorrow’ it might be worth the while though.