Ekiti State has inaugurated its first airport on Saturday, 15th October 2022, with the first aircraft, with registration number: NAF 930, belonging to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), landing at the newly constructed Ekiti Cargo Airport along Ado-Ijan road, Ado-Ekiti, at about 10:20 am with the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika and officials of the ministry on board.
A jubilant crowd cheered as they witnessed the inaugural landing of the aircraft. Dignitaries who also attended the inauguration include Governor Kayode Fayemi; Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye; his deputy, Hakeem Jamiu and other top government officials.
Fayemi was elated at the aircraft’s landing and the construction of the airport in record time.
The outgoing governor, who described the airport as a dream come true for Ekiti State people, said the facility would boost the socio-economic growth and development of the state.
He added that the project, which began in 2019, was geared towards unlocking the vast potential of the state to attract investors, provide easy transportation of agricultural products, and job opportunities and open the state for rapid development.
The governor recalled that the move to start the project began during his first tenure in 2012 with a Committee on the Viability of the Airport led by a legal luminary, Aare Afe Babalola, raised by his then administration, noting that the committee submitted its report in 2012.
According to him, his first administration through the State Executive Council considered and approved the report submitted which was accommodated in its plan for the 2013-2015 Medium Term Sector Strategy.
He however noted that the plan was halted by his exit from office after the 2014 governorship election, which placed the project on suspension.
The governor said his successor in office, Ayo Fayose, embraced the idea to continue with the project but it couldn’t see the light of the day until his tenure ended in 2018.
He said further: “Upon my assumption of office in 2018, I appointed aviation experts and industry-related officials to kick-start the implementation of the project. They made several advocate visits to communities to meet the requirements for the establishment of the airport.
“The administration took the following steps: We secured the approval; the revalidation of approval from the Federal Ministry of Aviation. We also secured the Department of State Services (DSS) clearance; we paid all the necessary fees for the construction, planning and certification to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and conducted an Environmental and Sustainability Impact Assessment.
“As a government that adheres strictly to the rule of law with unwavering respect for the rights of our people, we made several appeals to communities affected for enumeration of their farmlands to ensure commensurate monetary compensation is paid on their crops.
“To this end, a total of 669 claimants were duly compensated out of those that presented themselves for the exercise. We acquired 4,017 hectares of land from nine communities: Ago Aduloju, Aso Ayegunle, Bolorunduro, Igbogun, Araromi, Obbo, Afao, Orun, Igbemo and Ijan covering three local government areas in the state.”
On his part, Aviation Minister, Sirika also announced to the excited audience that the federal government would site a cargo facility at the airport. He described the Ekiti Airport as “an extremely very important project,” which would facilitate the import and export of goods and commodities.
Outgoing Governor, Kayode Fayemi, who could not hide his excitement on the success, said “My job is done”.
Mr Fayemi expressed satisfaction that the project eventually saw the light of the day 10 years after its conception during his first administration in 2012.
He also used the occasion to give an assurance to the people of the state that the federal roads that are now in a dilapidated condition would be given attention to bring relief to their users and complement the newly inaugurated airport project.
Story: Ene Ken-Yawe