The Ekiti State Agro-Allied Cargo International Airport was inaugurated for public use yesterday, shortly after which the first aircraft landed at the facility.
The first aircraft, ATR 42, a Nigeria Air Force plane piloted by Flight Lieutenant E.A. Balogun, landed at the airport’s runway at exactly 10.20 am amidst cheers and excitement by eminent guests, government officials, and members of the public who witnessed the historic occasion.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who performed the inauguration, was among the personalities on board the aircraft, which flew in from Abuja.
Sirika, who also announced that the Federal Government would site a cargo facility at the airport, described the Ekiti Airport as “an extremely very important project,” which would in turn facilitate the import and export of goods and commodities.
Senator Sirika recalled that during the groundbreaking in October 2019, there were divergent views as to the viability of the project, noting that airports are being used by what he called “one-city nation-states in the world” to drive their economies.
He added: “I use to make an assertion, that a one-mile-long road leads to nowhere, but a one-mile runway leads to everywhere. You see, I came here today through the runway of this airport provided by Governor Fayemi. There is a future with this project, market and trade can drive everybody here.
“I was at ABUAD, I saw the university, the farm, the industrial park, and the hospital. If there is an airport here, it will connect people to this facility and reduce foreign medical tourism. Airports are by no means the best catalysts for the economic growth of any state or nation.
“Thirty-five percent of global trade by value is moved through airports, and $18.6b of cargo is moved daily through air transportation. The wealthy among you should take to agriculture for example, and begin to produce things that you will export to other parts of the world.
“You can be land-locked, but you cannot be sky-locked. We can all see the importance of having a facility like this. Thank you Mr. Governor, you have provided this facility for the people of Ekiti State; they should own it, they should own it.”
The outgoing Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who could not hide his joy expressed satisfaction that the project eventually saw the light of day 10 years after its conception during his first administration in 2012.
Source: The Guardian