Controversy around construction of an international cargo airport by the Anambra State Government has generated some false and misleading messages in the social media. Daily Trust on Sunday verifies these claims.
Claim one: A viral WhatsApp message claimed the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, denied Anambra State licence to operate an international airport.
VERDICT: False. The viral social media report that the Minister of Aviation, Senator Sirika Hadi said the Federal Government denied Anambra State Government licence to operate an international airport is false. The spokespersons of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Anambra State Government have separately disclaimed the report. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said the airport is still undergoing necessary tests before approval.
A viral news report on social media claims the federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Aviation, denied Anambra State licence to operate an international airport.
The report, which was attributed to the Aviation Minister Senator Sirika Hadi, also claimed the decision was taken due to security reasons.
How true is this?
Brief on Anambra International Cargo Airport
In March 2015, Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano approved the investment of N5 billion ($25.3 million) for the development of a new four-lane road to the planned Umueri Cargo Airport and in April 2017, the governor launched the project.
Mr Obiano said the ‘Airport City Project’ will be developed on a 1500-acre site and will feature two runways, an aviation fuel facility, aircraft maintenance facility, airport hotel, business park and international convention centre.
He said the project is estimated to cost more than $2bn and will be developed through a partnership between the Anambra State Government, Orient Petroleum Resources and Elite International Investments.
The governor revealed that Elite International Investments will provide all funds under a build, operate, manage and transfer agreement.
Anambra Airport City Infrastructure Limited allocated a 75 percent equity stake to Elite International Investments, 20 percent to Orient Petroleum Resources Limited and 5 percent to the State Government.
In 2019, the Anambra government allocated N6bn ($16.5m) for the construction of the airport as part of the staSep-2020.
Last year, Governor Obiano said the airport would be opened in April 2020.
Recently, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, revealed that Air Peace will operate a test flight at Anambra Airport on April 30, 2021, being the first flight to be recorded in the new airport.
But how true is the claim that the Aviation Minister said the Airport has been denied licence to operate internationally?
The Federal Ministry of Aviation told Daily Trust that the viral message did not emanate from the Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika.
The Director, Public Affairs of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Dr. James Odaudu, said he was unaware of the minister making such a pronouncement.
“As far as I know, the minister has not made such a comment,” he said. “I am not aware the minister made such a comment anywhere.”
Similarly, the Anambra State Government has also debunked the claim, describing the comment attributed to the minister as “false, misleading and mischievous.”
The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, said in a statement that the Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport remains an international airport.
“It will be commissioned at the appropriate time this year. Like any other airport in the world, it will start with local operations, add regional operations later and finally international flights. Its facilities are strong and built to global standards,” he said.
Mr Adinuba urged people to ignore the false social media report that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Aviation, refused to grant Anambra State Government licence to operate an international airport.
“The Minister of Aviation has been exceptional in his support for the airport. The people and government of Anambra State could not have asked for better cooperation from the Honourable Minister and relevant agencies under his supervision like the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) whose leadership has never wavered in its praise for the quality of the job done and the commitment of the state political leadership,” the commissioner said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the apex Aviation regulatory authority, said yesterday the newly constructed Anambra International Airport is not yet approved.
Spokesman of the NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, in a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday said the airport is still undergoing the necessary tests before approval.
The viral social media report that the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said the Federal Government denied Anambra State Government licence to operate an international airport is false. The spokespersons of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Anambra State Government have separately disclaimed the report. The NCAA said the airport is still undergoing necessary tests.
Claim two: The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, claimed the Anambra International Cargo Airport’s “runway is 5.7km in length and 60m in width, the longest and the largest throughout Africa.”
VERDICT. False. Mr Adinuba’s claim that the Anambra International Cargo Airport’s runway is the “longest and the largest throughout Africa” is false. To start with, the airport’s runway is 3.7km and not 5.7km as claimed by the Commissioner. There are several airports in Africa, including one in Nigeria, that have runways measuring above 3.7km.
In debunking the licence denial report, Mr Adinuba made a claim on the size of the airport’s runway.
He claimed the airport’s runway is 5.7km in length and 60m in width, the longest and the largest throughout Africa.
“Its facilities are strong and built to global standards. The facilities are big enough to accommodate the biggest aircraft in the world,” he said.
How true is the claim?
The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captian Musa Nuhu, said the length of the runway is 3.7km contrary to the 5.7km claimed by Mr Adinuba.
Speaking while at the airport site for inspection, Captain Nuhu said, “We have gone round the airport. We have a runway of 3.7km, with a runway safety area on both ends of the airport of about 1,000 metres.”
Similarly, speaking on the technical details of the project, the Director of Engineering, Mr Marcel Ifejiofor, recently told members of the National Assembly, who were on the inspection of the site that the runway measures 3.7km.
Mr Ifejiofor said: “This runway has 06, 024. It has a length of 3.7km, the width is 60 metres, 45 metres carriage way and 15 metres shoulders and the category is 4F, meaning it can take any Airbus.
“The orientation is that you can land on two sides, you can land on 06 or 024, it has category two light and satellite landing system, one-kilometre racer to take care of overrun.”
On October 6, 2020, the Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano visited the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in his office in Abuja and told him that the airport is the second longest airport in Nigeria after the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.
It is worth noting that in January 2021, Mr Adinuba had given the length of the airport’s runway as 3.7km.
In a statement then, he said, “The project which is one of the two biggest airports in Nigeria, with its runway covering 3.7 kilometres long and its control tower made up of 11 storeys, the tallest in Nigeria, the project is solely the brainchild of the state government.”
Surprisingly, the Commissioner claimed in April 2021 that the airport has a runway measuring 5.7km in length and is “the longest and the largest throughout Africa.”
Note that Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos has a runway of 3.9 kilometres while several airports in Africa have runways longer than that of the Lagos airport.
For instance, Upington Airport, South Africa, has a runway of 4.9 kilometres while Bole International Airport, Ethiopia, has a runway of 4.7 kilometres.
Mr Adinuba’s claim that the Anambra International Cargo Airport’s runway is the “longest and the largest throughout Africa” is false.