Amaechi say FG has abandoned R/S Airport

THE Ministry of Aviation debunked alleged claim by Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State that the repair of the Port-Harcourt International Airport under the ambitious airports remodeling project of the Federal Government has been abandoned, saying the governor was being economical with the truth.
Amaechi had, in an interview said the Port Harcourt airport, was not one of those that have been repaired, alleging that work on its airport terminal had been abandoned not for lack of fund but because of the difference between him and the Federal Government and officials in the Ministry of Aviation.
There were indications that the airport was initially not one of the 11 earmarked for remodeling, but was later included and handed over to a different contractor who is alleged to be foot dragging on the project that is very central to economic develop of the oil-rich Niger-Delta region.
Many people believe Port Harcourt, with its seaport coming after Lagos, is a major source of revenue for the Federal Government. And so deserves a better airport than those with lower passenger traffic that have been remodeled with revenue generated from its sea and airports.
Spokesman for the Minister of Aviation, Joe Obi, said Amaechi was economical with the truth with regard to work on the airport terminal.
“We started work on 11 airports under the airports remodeling project. Not all the 11 airports have been completed. Yola, Calabar and Ilorin airports under the scheme are not yet completed,” he said.
According to Obi, the Mallam Aminu Kano Airport, Kano has been completed despite the fact that Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso is an alleged opponent of President Goodluck Jonathan.
He urged Amaechi to separate aviation from politics, saying both do not go hand in hand. “If you go to Rivers State, the light rail project embarked upon by the state government has not been completed. Does it mean that the project has been abandoned? The Port Harcourt airport is a Federal airport. That is the airport Mr. President uses any time he is in the area. The argument is puerile and unfounded, and the whole issue does not add up,’’ Obi said.
According to him, work has not stopped on the project, like every other project the ministry has undertaken. ‘‘It is not Rivers airport but Federal Government’s. Port Harcourt airport is our baby and we should not mix politics with aviation,” Obi said.
Former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) expressed worry over what he called inability of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to sustain itself without funding from the government, which, he alleged, leads to unnecessary interference.
Meanwhile, Rivers State has experienced an unprecedented boom in healthcare delivery since Amaechi came to power, Health commissioner, Dr Sampson Parker, said weekend.
He spoke at an event organised at the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, Port Harcourt to appreciate ophthalmologists (eye specialists) from United States-based Hospitals for Humanity, who performed successful surgery with eyesight restored to over 200 glaucoma and cataract patients in collaboration with the Rivers State Government.
He disclosed that Amaechi had released almost N100 billion for health care delivery, describing him as having a very kind heart for the people.
After exciting testimonies from glaucoma and cataract patients, Parker said: “We have to thank God because He is the One that has made all these things possible. He is the One that at the right time decided to bring back Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi from exile to govern Rivers State. He is the One that made him (Amaechi) have a kind heart for the people of Rivers State. I have been a doctor in this system for a couple of years before becoming a Commissioner, and I have senior colleagues here, I don’t think it has been this good for the health ministry as Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has done. If I am lying, please somebody should oppose me.
“Since we came, just last night we were having a small chat and we were looking at how much has been expended into the ministry of health; almost a N100 billion has gone into free health care service for service for Rivers people.”
“We have done about 150 primary healthcare centres, general hospitals and equipped them and in staff development we have employed over 200 medical doctors, with nurses, 400, and given incentives to doctors to work harder.
“We have reinstituted training and retraining of medical personnel and today our push is to make Braithwaite Memorial Hospital to be a Specialist Hospital as the name implies, to become a teaching hospital to train young doctors and other health professionals. That is how much he (Amaechi) has put into the ministry of health.”
The commissioner assured that the Amaechi administration would continue to pursue health programmes that would provide quality free healthcare for the people, adding that the governor had also approved a specialist manpower development programme for take-off.
He thanked the medical team from Hospitals for Humanity for their collaboration and effort in treating glaucoma and cataract eye patients.
The ophthalmologists were in Rivers State on partnership with the Amaechi administration to treat glaucoma and cataract eye patients.
Earlier, the founder and team leader of Hospitals for Humanity, Dr Segun Ajayi, said they carried out eye surgery on over 200 patients with support from internal members of the staff at Braithwaite Memorial Hospital.
“The last two weeks was a great opportunity for Hospitals for Humanity and we were amazed by the people, by the ophthalmologists, by the nurses, everyone, the (health) commissioner, Dr Kalada, everybody came together to see this mission come through and as a result 200 plus patients have had eye surgery, over 500 patients have been screened, so that is a huge accomplishment”, he said.
The head of ophthalmology department at BMH, Dr Godswill Pepple, represented by Dr. Godswill Nathaniel noted that it was a new beginning in eye care service delivery in the state.
He said: “I must confess that this is a new beginning in eye care service delivery in Rivers State. We have been in the forefront of asking the government to establish an eye centre, which the government has graciously accepted and machinery has been put in motion to actualize that but in the interim we have been also working with available resources to see how we can affect the lives of our people”.
Among other eye patients, 12-year-old Stephen Izu, Felix and Mrs Victoria (mother of an eye patient) confirmed that their eyesight were now restored and commended Amaechi for the unequalled healthcare delivery in Rivers State.