The Ebonyi State Government has said the economy of the state will be further boosted after it completes and begins the operation of the international airport by December 2021 at Abakaliki, the state capital.
The Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barrister Uchenna Oji, revealed this in Abuja on Wednesday when he led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the headquarters of Media Trust Limited, publisher of Daily Trust newspaper and other titles.
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Oji who was in the company of the Head, Ebonyi Liaison Office in Abuja, Elizabeth Agba, said the airport is modelled after the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja. It is being built on a 4.5 kilometre land with a 3.5km runway.
“By God’s grace, In sha Allah, we are expecting the first plane to land in the airport by December 2021.”
To also make Ebonyi an economic hub, the Commissioner said the state is raising 60 millionaires that are being trained to turn the economy around. It is also collaborating with Ethiopian Airlines for direct international flight to Ebonyi which will improve tourism and businesses.
Highlighting the achievements of the administration of Governor Dave Umahi, the Commissioner said due to the governor’s massive projects and policies, “Today Ebonyi state is a point of reference for good governance” and with Mr Umahi receiving several awards for that.
He said the governor has been innovative in developing infrastructure in the state. “I am sure that the governor has done over 500km of state roads in Ebonyi and it is the first state to do concrete pavement roads which has been proved to have over 50 years lifespan,” Oji noted.
The state is also constructing 13 flyovers making it the highest among states beside Lagos and Abuja. Of significance is the 4-Way Lighting Tunnel named after President Muhammadu Buhari and commissioned by the president.
Oji said the tunnel connects the Ebonyi Mall with 6,000 shops and the largest in Nigeria; it connects the ecumenical centre with over 20,000 seating capacity; and links the international market that has 5,000 shops and the biggest in the South East.
“These were creations of the current administration who mean well for the state.”
On power supply, the commissioner said streetlights across the capital and towns work for 12 hours daily non-stop. “That is to say his person is one that will make the power sector work if given the opportunity.” He said the streetlights are powered by solar but previously with diesel which was not sustainable, noting that there were issues developing the Ebonyi bio-gasification power plant but still in process.
In promoting agriculture and small businesses, Oji said the state became one of three rice producing states since 2016 along with 1500 capacity rice milling clusters being the highest in Africa and 80 metric tonnes fertilizer blending plant. “We can say comfortably that we have really done well in that area.”
Civil servants have also been empowered with N4 billion for agro enterprises while N750 million grant has been given for women and youths with another N130m for 520 youths in the Street to Skill scheme for empowering young entrepreneurs rather than allow them to hawk.
“In 2021 budget, health education and human capital development has the highest budgets to demonstrate the governor’s priority on these.”
Commenting, the Editor In Chief, Daily Trust, Naziru Mikailu, said Daily Trust newspaper upholds as a priority the publication of balanced reports and promotes fair hearing.
Reiterating the professional standards for the paper, he said: “We do offer people the opportunity to reply” in terms of fair hearing.