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Ebonyi airport protests: Information ministry to enlighten land owners on project’s gains



The Ministry of Information and Orientation in Ebonyi says it will intensify its efforts in educating the owners of the land for the proposed state airport on what they stand to benefit from the project.
The Commissioner, Mr Uchenna Orji, said this against the backdrop of a series of protests by the landowners in Ezza North Local Government Area (LGA) over the siting of the project in the area.
The latest in the series of the protests occurred on Monday, Sept.16, when the Aguogboriga people in Umuoghara community protested over the speculation that several houses in the area had been marked for demolition in view of the project.
Addressing newsmen in Abakiliki on Tuesday, the commissioner said that the ministry would enhance its efforts to adequately enlighten the landowners on government’s intention over the airport.
He said: “The ministry presently has a duty to sustain the enlightenment and we seek the collaboration of stakeholders to achieve this aim.
“This enlightenment will also extend to other areas in the state where government’s projects are being executed because government is desirous to make the state an economic hub.”
The commissioner urged the people not to be agitated, saying that Gov. David Umahi had directed that no building should be demolished until necessary enumerations are made and cost of compensation ascertained.
“The state ministry of lands has conducted enumeration to ascertain those affected and government has resolved to adequately compensate those to be affected by the project.
“The siting has been approved by the communities involved, the licence to construct given by the Federal Government and work has commenced.
“Umuoghara community has the least part of the land for the project compared to other communities including Umuezekoha, Oruizor, Umuezeoka and Amuzu in Ezza South LGA,” Orji said.
He described the protest by the communities as a distraction, which should be ignored by well-meaning citizens of the state.
He said that the state government would not be distracted from delivering the dividend of democracy to the people.
He said: “The protesters were a handful of people, who didn’t know what they were doing and some of them didn’t even know why they came there.
“They were not properly informed because they could have known that the airport will develop the area economically by making  the value of the lands to appreciate, among other benefits.
“The project will attract investment to the state as many investors would not like to travel by road, considering the insecurity associated presently with road travel.”
Orji said that stakeholders of the area approved the siting of the airport and the governor resolved the issue of compensation with them to cover existing buildings and economic trees, among others.
reports that the protesters, which included the young and elderly, said that they were not against the airport being sited in their area.
They said that their grouse was that they would not vacate their ancestral home.
(Edited by Nick Nicholas/Sam Oditah)

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