In a remarkable display of community solidarity, the Jiwa community has officially handed over a significant portion of their land to the Federal Government (FG) for the construction of the much anticipated second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in Abuja.

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The existing runway has faced capacity challenges due to increased air traffic, leading to flight delays and congestion. However, the second runway is expected to alleviate these issues and further position Abuja as a key regional air travel hub.

The handover ceremony which was held on Thursday in Abuja, was attended by top government officials, Chairman of the aviation committees in the National Assembly, aviation stakeholders, and representatives of the host community.

Speaking, the Emir of Jiwa community, Alhaji Idris Musa, while recognizing the transformative impact of the anticipated the project and its surrounding communities, called on FG and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), to ensure involvement of community members, which according to him, would not only provide job opportunities but also empower local residents and foster ownership of the development within the Jiwa community.

Calling on the community youths not to revolt against the project, the Emir said: “My farm was affected and many of you know that my farm is very big, and I know how much I collected it. I want to use this medium to say sorry for what happened to you. I’m pleading with you to be a little patient.

“I want to appeal to the House of Assembly to look at the prices of the compensation that is paid in FCT; it is so meager. Without you changing the way it’s supposed to be paid, many people will die. The money given to us cannot even train our children, cannot even make us feed. Most of us, some have 30 children and he got about 1 million, how much are they going to share? Some of them pay N200, some N10, 000. No farm, no money.

“The House of Assembly, you have to change and quickly review these things for us. I want to thank the minister for his cooperation.

“For the CCECC, when you’re starting this work, our people should be the first priority of any employment you want to give people because some of them despite the fact that they don’t have the cadre, some of them are not engineer but the actual work that you are doing should not go anywhere it should come to us. If you don’t do that, don’t say they are protesting to you”, he said.

On his part, the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, emphasized the importance of the project in enhancing the country’s aviation infrastructure.

He assured that the Ministry will do everything possible to ensure that the construction company engages locals.

In response to the community’s demands for a compensation increase, he stated that the 825.8 million initial compensation was regulated by law.

Furthermore, he mentioned that the Ministry planned to utilize the resources from the 2024 budget to undertake significant projects within the community, including healthcare facilities, bridges, and roads as part of moves to further compensate the community.

He said: “The issue of the second runway, the Abuja second runway has been on the cards since the administration of Chief Obasanjo. It was a big issue at that time, and successive administrations have not been able to have a day like this where dreams become reality.

“Today is a day we must just thank the people of the Jiwa community. We promised so much because your traditional head here fought for you. Each time we met with him, he did not want to hear any other thing but the welfare of his people. He was always fighting for his people. And so, when we could not bypass the law, we wish you could pay more. But, the moment we pay one kobo more for Jiwa the whole of Abuja community will be affected. It will be like a ripple effect.”