GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State yesterday in Makurdi, the state capital, saved his government from public odium by putting off indefinitely plans to construct a cargo airport at a time workers in the state are being owed salaries for more than six months.
While his action was considered as a deft move politically, not a few condemned the conception of constructing such a gigantic project at a time the citizens are starving and living in penury.
The project which is said to cost billions of naira, is to be executed through Private, Public, Partnership, PPP with a Chinese firm.
All was set for the foundation laying ceremony at the NYSC farm in Daudu, Guma local government area, home country of the governor yesterday when news filtered in that the event had been put off indefinitely.
It was gathered that it was as a result of the perceived outburst by Benue indigenes that caused the governor to put the event off.
The governor, according to a source weighed the implication of embarking on such a capital intensive project at this period of economic recession, a situation which is capable of worsening the state financial situation where salaries are being owed and projects are hardly executed.
The source wondered: “How can the government think of constructing an airport at this time when workers are being owed several months of salaries. It is a misplaced priority. I think it is a wise decision to suspend the project at this time. The several road projects inherited from his predecessor, he has not been able to complete even one. I wonder where this government is actually taking Benue State to?”
On his part, Aondofa Fanen, a social critic urged the governor to partner with the Federal Government to ensure that the existing airport in the state which was being renovated by the Goodluck Jonathan led administration and supervised by the governor, when he was supervising minister of aviation is made functional instead of embarking on the construction of a new one.
Fanen regretted that the Ortom led government is still groping in the dark after over one year in office and urged it to take a cue from other states where several projects have been commissioned within the same period of time.
As the time of filing this report, there was no official explanation by the state government over the cancellation.