The federal government has re-opened the rehabilitated Akanu Ibiam International Airport for flight operations with the Minister for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, hinting that the airport would be among the Airports that may be put up for concessions.
Sirika also announced that with the official commissioning of the Enugu Airport, local flight operations have immediately commenced there, while International flights will resume at the airport from September 5.
He further said that attention would henceforth be focused on completion of the international terminal of the Eastern gateway, just like works would be speeded up on other rehabilitations at the airport.
Sirika who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the ceremony stated that he has no regret commencing flight operations in other International airports other than Abuja and Lagos as some interests wanted, saying “We want to server you were you are”.
Meanwhile, Governors of the South Eastern states in Nigeria, and other political big wigs used the opportunity to expressed gratitude to President Buhari for the reopening and recommencement of flight operations into the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu after over one year of rehabilitation and expansion of the runway.
They also asked President Muhammadu Buhari through the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to fast track the completion of works at the airport terminal as well as ensure that more international flights operate from the Airport.
The Akanu Ibiam International airport was jam-packed with dignitaries as political leaders in the South East showered encomiums on the president for keeping his word and rehabilitating the airport runway within a year as promised.
Governors present from the South East include Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Willy Obiano of Anambra, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and a representative of the Governor Imo State.
Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in his address, thanked the President for approving N10bn to fast track the rehabilitation of the runway and other critical infrastructure at the airport.
”The Enugu state government, in a bid to ensure a levelling environment to help the project, completely removed all the obstacles and projects including the Emene market which attracted birds and was a safety concern.
“Complete removal of all encroachment at the airport environment, We totally removed the radio and television mast from the airport, we constructed a 1.3 km asphalt road
“We removed five units of two-storey houses, 14 units of houses, one church cathedral, 438 shopping malls along Eleme among other things. We did a number of sacrifice for the Enugu airport and now it is a sacrifice that is worth it,” he explained.
However, Chairman South-East Governors forum, and Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi narrated how the southeastern states banded together to ensure the airport rehabilitation was a reality.
Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who also spoke, demanded three things for the hub of the South East including immediate commercial flights, approval of more international flights and the completion of the cargo section of the airport.
He said, ”We want immediate commercial flights to start coming into Enugu. We also seek the approval of more international flights into Enugu Airport, Emirates and others and we want the President to finish the cargo section of the airport.
A visibly happy Senator Ekweremadu also expressed gratitude to four individuals for their outstanding work to ensure Enugu International Airport is a reality.
Particularly, he expressed gratitude to Late President Umaru Yar’Adua who granted approval for Enugu to be designated an international airport after its approval as an airport on October 22, 1976.
He thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for ensuring that the airport is gazetted as an international airport and the start of operations as he expressed profound thanks to President Muhammad Buhari for seeing it through to the end. He also thanked the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika for ensuring that he stuck to his guns and delivered as at when due.
The first aircraft to arrive on Sunday, a turbo prop with registration marks 5N-FCT landed at 12:50pm from Abuja while another aircraft, an Air Peace Embraer 145- with registration marks 5N-BUV landed at 1:40pm.
The Air Peace conveyed former Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Minister of Labour and productivity, Chris Ngige; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, Minister of State, Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, DG Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu, Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
Also conveyed were Chairman Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi and Nnolim Nnaji and members of the House and Senate Committees on Aviation.
Also sited were Senator Victor Umeh, Hon Nkieruka Oyejeocha, former Commissioner of Police Enugu state and now AIG zone 13, Danmallam Mohammed amongst others.
Source: Voice of Nigeria