The controversy surrounding the planned citing of an airport in Uzairue kingdom, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State continued on Monday as group known as Bullets of the Harmless Rabbit (BHR) described the position of Okpella people as an attempt to politicise the project.
Recall that the neighbouring Okpella people in Etsako East Local Government Area of the state had porpoted opposed citing of the project at Uzairue.
A statement by the founder of the group and native of Okppella, Lukeman Akemokue, said the proposed airport is a project that would benefit the public while the airstrip being planned by investors in Okpella was a private initiative.
He said there is no truth that the planned airstrip has been hijacked by the state government neither has the government through the deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu “clandestinely” moved an airport meant for Okpella to Uzairue as being insinuated.
He said, “First, what Dangote and BUA Cement companies are proposing in Okpella are airstrips for their private use, not airport for public use.
“Government cannot dictate to Dangote or BUA where to locate their private airstrips meant for their private use only. The insinuation that a private project is being hijacked and relocated from Okpella to Uzairue by the deputy governor is, therefore, mischievous and misplaced.”
On the issue that Okpella was mentioned by the Federal Ministry of Aviation as a community in Uzairue kingdom, he said: “As for the use of names of two different communities-Okpella and Uzairue- as the location of the project, there is nothing clandestine about it.
“Preliminary Googlemap snap observations suggested two suitable lands between Uzairue and Okpella communities, one by the left, and the other by the right, when going to Okpella form Uzairue.
“The Deputy Governor, in his usual show of fairness and wisdom, therefore instructed as follows: (a) if the project is situated wholly in Okpella land, name it Okpella Airport; (b) if it is wholly Uzairue, name it Uzairue Airport; (c) but if it is situated in the lands belonging to the two communities, call it Okpella-Uzairue Airport. It was on the basis of this logical reasoning this dual-name was adopted by the inspectors, pending when the actual geographical coordinates will reveal the exact community(ies) the project is located.”