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A PETITION: Akanu Ibiam International Airport - Now

December 23, 2006

TO: President Olusegun Obasanjo Office of the President, Aso Rock Villa, Asokoro District, Abuja Nigeria

CC: Hon. Senator Ken Nnamani, President of the Senate Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, Speaker of the House of Rep. National Assembly Complex Three Arms Zone P.M.B 141 Abuja Nigeria

CC: Abia, Anambra, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, and Kogi Governors


Your Excellency,

Equip Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu - NOW!

Mr. President, for years now, the people of the South-East Nigeria have been calling upon your administration for an international airport. It is a well known fact that South-East Nigeria is the only major geographical zone in Nigeria today without an international airport. Strategically and economically, the people of the South-East Nigeria deserve at least one international airport.

I. Strategic Importance of the South-East International airport

1. Families of the South-East Nigeria, flying into Nigeria from Europe, North America, and other parts of the world, are often stranded and frustrated for days in Lagos, Abuja, and Kano airports because of the limited number of local flights to South-East - their destination. While stranded, some will check into hotels, waiting for available local flights, as others decide to complete their trip by bus. Those waiting for available local flights often spend over $1,000 in hotel bills, and meals, while those who decide to travel by bus are often targeted by vicious highway armed robbers. Quite frequently, some of these highway robberies end in tragic loss of lives.

2. Your Excellency, it is clear that big cities in Nigeria are densely populated and alarmingly overcrowded, and a part of this over-crowdedness is a general lack of careful city planning. Extension of international airports to various major geographical areas in Nigeria is one way to limit these man-made "concentration camps" in several Nigerian big cities. Accordingly, establishing an operational international airport in the South-East zone will substantially lessen such over-crowdedness, and make places as Lagos, and Abuja function more efficiently.

II. Economic Importance of the South-East international airport

1. Mr. President, it is important to emphasize that several states and their citizens stand to gain substantially when Akanu Ibiam International airport becomes operational in the South-East. Clearly, Akanu Ibiam airport is closer to several parts of the following states, namely Abia, Anambra, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, and Kogi states. As such, international passengers to these states will find Akanu Ibiam airport indispensable, as the costs associated with traveling to their destinations through Lagos or Kano will be eliminated.

2. It is on record that South-East zone has the economic power to sustain at least one international airport. According to Dr Osita Ogbu, the Chairman, National Planning Commission (NPC) and your Chief Economic Adviser, "the South East stands the richest zone among all the six geo-political zones in Nigeria." For details, see Vanguard, October 09, 2006.

3. Your Excellency, it must be stressed that Southeasterners are being deprived of economic opportunities accruing from international airports. Airports create jobs, ranging from construction and facility maintenance to ground transport services. In effect, lack of international airport in the South-East is denying a whole region the opportunity for higher job growth, despite tremendous contributions the region is making, with honor, gallantry and professionalism, to move your administration in the right direction. Indeed, what your administration needs at this critical time of high unemployment rate in the country is to encourage all the six geopolitical regions of Nigeria, and their governments to create jobs, especially those jobs that will attract foreign investment opportunities.

III. Your Promise and Your Challenge: Give me the carriers; I will give you an operational international airport

Fairly recently, Mr. President, you heeded the call of the South-East with a challenge. You promised that your administration will equip Akanu Ibiam International Airport with international facilities once South-East zone provides international carriers willing to fly directly to the airport. As Your Excellency knows, this promise and challenge were first issued by you as a response to questions from concerned Nigerians at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston while visiting in 2003. Later, the media reported similarly.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has agreed to deploy Customs and Immigration services to the Enugu Airport as part of moves to upgrade it into international status though he insisted that the operations of the two agencies would begin when Enugu State government is able to get international airlines that would ply the airport at least five times weekly. Daily Independent, February 9, 2005.

IV. Meeting the Challenge

Your Excellency, we are equal to the challenge. We have a huge, booming market for international carriers. We have over a million Southeasterners who are ready to fly into Akanu Ibiam International airport from overseas. In the United States alone, there are over half a million eastern Nigerians, according to Howard Jeter, the former US ambassador to Nigeria. In fact, there are, at least, 2,500 passengers ready to fly from Europe and North America to Akanu Ibiam airport weekly. These individuals, who now spend additional days upon arriving in their country before reaching their final destinations in the South-East zone, are ready to enjoy the same convenience hitherto enjoyed by their fellow citizens. They are prepared to fly directly into Akanu Ibiam International Airport from overseas. They are prepared to eliminate additional tragedies unleashed by armed highway robberies and impassable roads, recently described in Vanguard's October 11, 2006 article, "Lagos-Benin Highway of Pain," as "nightmare" (, or what ThisDay, in an article, "Hell on Lagos-Benin Road," described as “hell.” "For motorists and travelers on the Benin-Lagos Road, hell may be no better than the situation they are now faced" ( Undoubtedly, flying directly from overseas to Akanu Ibiam International Airport will minimize a lot of risks, and result in tremendous savings to families and individuals.

Your Excellency, securing international carriers to fly directly to Akanu Ibiam International airport is as good as a given. But that is only the second part of the equation: Akanu Ibiam International Airport must still be equipped FIRST to accommodate such international carriers, just as all the existing international airports in Nigeria were FIRST equipped before International carriers agreed to fly into them. Mr. President, the standard and approach to internationalizing Akanu Ibiam International Airport should not be different.

Accordingly, we, the undersigned, speaking for the millions of Nigerian and non-Nigerian flyers, who are willing and ready to start enjoying broadened direct international services into the South-East zone of Nigeria, hereby request that Your Excellency equip, without further delay, Akanu Ibiam International Airport to accommodate international flights.

May God bless Nigeria and be with you in your efforts to improve the lives of our people.

Yours Faithfully,

Concerned Compatriots:


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