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Gov Emmanuel admits he lied on Ibom Airport runway

Apr 11, 2018
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Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has admitted in a rare instance of apparent remorse that he had falsely been claiming to have built a second runway for the state airport, whereas the truth is that he inherited a taxiway from the last administration which he has yet to complete nearly three years after.

At a public function last week, the governor said with visible signs of embarrassment that his government was having a hard time completing the taxiway he inherited from the Godswill Akpabio administration. ‘When you see me struggling to even do a taxiway that can also serve as a second runway at Ibom International Airport in case of emergency, it is because of your promise that you will give me an air operational base here,’ Mr Emmanuel told the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubarkar at the Godswill Akpabio stadium at the closing ceremony of this year’s Air force Games.

For nearly three years Emmanuel had repeatedly said in media advertising, press statements and public functions that his government had built a second runway for the Akwa Ibom International Airport, citing it as one of his landmark achievements as governor.

So much push back from numerous citizens of the state and groups through newspaper publications against the governor over his repeated false claims on the runway project seems to have forced him to admit that he had serially lied to Akwa Ibom people on the matter. The governor’s shameless backtracking from his often repeated but deceitful claim of building a second runway for the state airport again throws light on the personality of the governor as an unrepentant liar. He did not apologize for taking people in the state for a ride.

The airport runway episode brings to the fore another unfortunate dimension of the governor’s personality—his lack of knowledge in many basic areas. The governor’s idea that a taxiway could be used as a runway as he told the chief of air staff during the closing ceremony of the Air Force Games, is simply preposterous and shameful. A taxiway does not have the markings, calibrations, required length, lighting, thickness, width and other specifications which a runway possesses for the takeoff and landing of a plane.

The full story is that the Akpabio administration had started the taxiway project in 2013 when the tarmac was also expanded to accommodate two planes. But like many of his projects, the taxiway was not completed when Akpabio left office in 2015. As soon as Udom Emmanuel was sworn in as Akpabio’s successor, he launched a massive press and radio advertising, falsely claiming that he had started building a second runway that would be wide and long enough to accommodate Boeing 787!

He repeated this claim unabashedly at several events and in many publications, just to show off his achievements. It is only Deacon Udom Emmanuel that would tell such barefaced lies. He is never too restrained to lie just about anything: his date of birth; his date of registration as a PDP member in his ward; the initiation and cost of the Lagos lodge project; Julius Berger debts, etc.

But his claim that a taxiway can double as a runway reflects his sheer lack of common sense for a man who has boasted of his business school credentials, was once an executive director in a bank and is quite widely travelled. Udom Emmanuel should stop making a fool of himself on this matter and accept that the project Akpabio started at the airport is a taxiway, and not a runway. Even Akpabio himself never said he initiated a second runway project.

Mr Emmanuel should be advised that while planes land, take off and may taxi along the runway, the taxiway serves only one purpose but has many benefits—it is a pathway the plane uses as it moves to and from the runway. The taxiway therefore serves to quickly decongest the runway to allow more planes to use it. A taxiway therefore prolongs the life of the runway.

But due to its relative low traffic, Akwa Ibom airport does not even need a second runway. It requires a modern terminal building and taxiway. Yet Udom Emmanuel has studiously kept quiet about the permanent terminal building which the last administration started but did not take it to any reasonable level.

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