MKO Abiola airport: Osun government denies fraud allegations

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

A model of the MKO Abiola airport

The Consultant Engineer to the Osun State ‎Government, Wemimo Adebajo, has denied claims of fraud in the construction of the MKO Abiola airport.

He made the statement during an inspection tour of facilities at the airport with journalists.

Speaking on the percentage of work so far done, the consultant noted that with N2.7 billion out of the revised total cost of N11 billion spent, the project had reached 25 percent completion.

He explained that the essence of the facility tour of the airport was to allow people know what the state government was doing on the airport and not just respond to allegations.

“I have actually read in the newspaper that the contract has been inflated from 4.5 billion to 15.5 billion naira which is not true. I have just told you it is N11bn and if you compare this with other ones being constructed in Nigeria, you will realize that the cost of this one is cheap”.

The tour of the facilities became germane to allow you (journalists) be adequately informed about the magnitude of the work done in order to situate the criticisms of the opposition in their proper context.”

He said the airport project predated the present government, stating that the project had since 2010 been reviewed to over N7.5 billion even before the coming of the Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration.

The Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon, had earlier described the allegation of inflating the project from N4.5bn to N15.5bn as ‘mischievous and misplaced.’

He explained that the upward review of the project from N7.5 to N11 billion was because of the exchange rate and the fact that the scope of the project was reviewed to make the airport more sophisticated than earlier projected.

Okanlawon said the contract under the former administration of PDP, more than six years ago had earlier been reviewed from N3,967,085,161.38 to N7,512,615,918.06.

“To every reasonable critic, if a contact was reviewed to N7.5 billion as far back as 2010 to the knowledge of the Presidency and the Ministry of Aviation, does it not make sense to consider exchange rates and other factors that could be responsible for the upward review of the contract?”, he queried.

Best airport

The MKO Abiola International Airport, Ido Osun in South West Nigeria will be one of the best in Nigeria when completed, he said.

He added that the airport would rank among those with the longest runways in the country with about 3.5 kilometre long.

Engineer Adebajo signposted the significance of the site of the airport as the first place where aviation activities took place in West Africa.

“The West African Frontier Force was lifted from the Ido-Osun aerodrome, the present site of the MKO International Airport project during the World War II, hence the conscious effort by the state to make it the best in Nigeria if not in Africa.

The Consultant Engineer spoke on another uniqueness of the airport.

“Both sides of the runway are equipped ab initio, with water pipes. With such a feature, the airport will have been equipped with facilities that will make emergency fire fighting readily available near the runway in case of any emergency landing or fire outbreaks.”

He said a lot of work had been done on the runway, stating that the runway consumes about 60 percent of the cost of any airport project.

“The 3.5 kilometre runway, waiting to be laid with 500mm asphalt had undergone 12.3 metres excavation and re-filled with the best kind laterite.

There are about 8 streams (rivers) on the path of the runway. It therefore became necessary to excavate and construct box culverts so that the water in the stream will flow unhindered under the runway.”

Engineer Adebajo pointed out that though the runway had not been completed, it could still be used by any pilot to land an aircraft in case of an emergency, saying, funding remains a major challenge.

“Still more to be done, I believe the airport is good for the state. The main delay right now is a question of funding and the state is seeking ways on how to make it available.

 We are approaching Abuja for 50 percent of the cost of building the airport which is a Federal Government policy. What the contractor is doing for now is site maintenance to ensure there won’t be any case of deterioration of the huge work that had already been done here,” the airport consultant stressed.

Adebajo also took the journalists to the Terminal Building and the Control Tower site which is nearing completion.

“A lot of work has been done. The control tower is at the third floor of four sitting on a foundation of an excavated ground of nine metres. The terminal building, also built to similar depth of foundation and the airport fire station have reached the stage of roofing.”