By Tony Eluemunor

Infinity Tyres

This exciting but easy-to-read book, THE CONCESSION OF ASABA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, BALANCING POLITICS AND POLICY EXECUTION, by Prof Sylvester Monye, with a forward by President Olusegun Obasanjo, tells a fascinating story. It is a masterful rendition of how three different Delta State Governors, their Excellencies Chief James Onanefe Ibori (1999 -2007), Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (2007-2015) and Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa (2015 -2023) from three different ethnic groups as well as different Senatorial Districts, in an enthralling relay race created a government project that is unlike any other in the entire country; one working optimally and profitably.

The pain-staking detailing of that achievement, the in-depth and meticulous rendition of the government’s minting of Delta State’s success story, one that should be studied, appreciated and replicated by others, is what Professor Sylvester Monye has achieved with this very important book, an all-things-considered one about the Asaba International Airport.

As to be expected, the book has received rave reviews from those who should know when the state of national administration has achieved something extraordinary. For instance, Mr. Steve Oronsaye, former Head of Service of the Federation, rightly noted in a review that “This book highlights Delta’s rising above crass ethnic politics to achieve something lordly, and it shows the rest of the country the way to follow …. And really, not only in Aviation but to truly develop and enhance the lives of the citizenry.

Yes, Airports dot the Nigerian landscape, in their varying states of decaying elegance, huge sizes, monetary out-lays, often signifying failed dreams and hopes betrayed. But the Asaba Airport is different; it is alive, growing, humming, functional, keeping step with its Master-Plan – the only Nigerian Airport that has a Master-Plan, Delta State’s poster achievement”.

To Senator (Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki, former Kwara state Governor and former Senate President, “The book presents a ringside view of the Airport’s development, from its conceptualization to physical growth/development and most importantly, it’s becoming the first Nigerian Airport to be concessioned.

Prof Monye, tasked by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa with an important role in creating the turnaround that made all the difference, has created a reverting story of different governments working as a continuum, of Gov. Okowa’s intense focus on a glorious goal, drawbacks and delays from undue suspicions and debilitating “politics” inherent in the multi-ethnic state called “mini-Nigeria”.

Beyond that, this impressive book shows sketches of the intrigues of fifth columnists, recalcitrant contractors, sundry criminals, circumvention, unnecessary delay and back-biting from colleagues and fellow committee members but defeated by the illustrious and self-less stand of many high-principled Government Officials, Civil Servants.

The author masterfully recounts the daring thieving and unconscionable destruction of the Airport’s and Government’s properties – which often kill government projects. It is to Prof Monye’s credit that he does this through solid documentary evidence and presentation of facts and figures and with uncommon understanding and goodwill.

The book is a wakeup call for Nigeria and indeed, Africa. The Asaba Airport was hemorrhaging billions of Naira in monthly overhead costs.

Seriously downgraded by Aviation authorities, it was teetering on life-support that was fast running out. Then Okowa’s administration did things differently…and changed the narrative.

This book tells how Delta state, through certain decisions made in the state’s interest, performed a miracle; the once moribund Asaba Airport not only picked up but became Nigeria’s singular boast – the sole profitable Airport in the country and the third busiest after Lagos and Abuja Airports, adding to Deltans’ bragging rights.

This book details the making of that miracle and shows it can be replicated across the country by the Federal and State governments…if the political will is awakened and in true command.

It is not just the story of a concession that has proved profitable and benefits Delta State greatly, it is a game changer, a narrative begging for replication if Nigeria ever hopes to lead Africa to realize her manifest destiny.

Please, fasten your seat belt. This is not just a success story of an Airport deliciously and electably told, Prof Monye takes you on a flight, through both turbulent weather and calm blue skies.

He invites you inside the cockpit and shows you all the intricacies involved, the challenges encountered and the soul-uplifting triumphs – like an aircraft – out from the dark and threatening clouds and sailing into clear blue skies.

This deliberately mid-sized book is a must read for Pilots, Government and Public Officials, business
moguls, Aviation sector operators, legislators, and plain enthusiasts and travelers, indeed any citizen who cares about whether government projects become white elephants or will yield revenues and become of immense benefit to society.