Ten Billion Naira For Enugu Airport: An Elite Handout And A Failure Of Utilitarianism

By Ikenga Chronicles October 20, 2019

Ten Billion Naira For Enugu Airport: An Elite Handout And A Failure Of Utilitarianism

–Dr. Vitus Ozoke

So, Nigeria’s Enugu Airport, the only international airport in Igbo land, was shutdown due to safety concerns, and the highest delegation of Igbo political elite went to Abuja to beg President Buhari to help with rehabilitation fund. Buhari has since approved N10 Billion for the rehabilitation of the airport. Since then, messages of congratulations and praise for Buhari and the Igbo governors have been flooding the airwaves.

One major problem with Nigeria is that ordinary Nigerians don’t stretch themselves into the realm of critical thinking. If they did, they would realize that they have been duped – and that they have always been duped by their political leadership elite. The closure of the airport was narrated as an attack on the Igbo – you know, the usual marginalization narrative. But that is not a completely honest narrative. It is only true in reductionist logic.

If you reduce the Igbo to Igbo political elite, then, that version of the story is true. But if you understand the Igbo political elite as an exclusive club of one-percenters of the Igbo, then, the story that the closure of Enugu airport is an attack on the Igbo becomes nonsensical. The haste, the sense of urgency, the hysteria, the nervousness, the fire-on-the-mountain state of emergency created by the politicians over the Enugu airport closure, was, on a deeper, critical level of analysis, as hypocritical as it was immorally self-serving.

Truth is that for over two decades, major Igbo interstate roads have been in a total state of ruin and disrepair. Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-Port Harcourt road, Enugu-Okigwe-Owerri road, Onitsha-Owerri road, and other interstate road networks in Igbo land have been, literally, deathtraps. Several thousands of Igbo lives have been lost on those roads to auto accidents.

Remarkably, of these thousands of Igbo lives, none has been of an Igbo politician. You know why? Because they fly! Because they have abandoned the land for the air. The government and Igbo politicians have abandoned actions on Igbo roads; have abandoned the risky travels on the dangerous Igbo roads; and have, instead, taken to the skies, leaving the ordinary Igbo on the ground.

But it’s not just Igbo politicians; it is also President Buhari and the Feds. It is PDP governments before him. It is Matthew Olusegun Obasanjo who presided over the collapse of Igbo road networks and did absolutely nothing to save the situation. It is Goodluck ‘Ebele’ Jonathan (the politically-convenient Igbo) who watched the deterioration and did absolute zilch.

If the current Buhari government, and the other mistakes before him, had engaged the existential problem of Igbo roads with half the sense of emergency that resulted in the coughing up of N10 Billion for the rehabilitation of the Enugu airport, Igbo roads would not have been the deathtraps they are today. Thousands of Igbo lives would not have been needlessly wasted on those roads.

And if Igbo political leadership elite had put in half the effort and energy, and had understood the life-and-death situation of Igbo roads, and taken it as life-and-death, as they did the closure of the Enugu airport; perhaps, we would have been in a different place today. Perhaps, thousands of Igbo lives would still be alive today. But they did not.

Let’s fix Enugu airport. It’s a commendable thing to do. But what would have been even more commendable was the rehabilitation of Igbo road networks, which have been in a total state of criminal neglect for over two decades. If utilitarianism remains that cardinal organizing principle of government, then, rushing to rehabilitate Enugu airport for the one percent of the Igbo, while Igbo roads, used by 99 percent of the Igbo, remain deathtraps, is a complete failure of government.

So, thank you Buhari! Thank you Igbo governors! Thank you Igbo politicians! Thank you for once again proving how much of a selfish bunch you are. Thank you for once again confirming that public cynicism in politics and politicians is well placed. Now you may go ahead and fix Enugu airport – and fly. Hopefully, at some point, you will fly away – never to return.

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