David Umahi, the Ebonyi State Governor on Thursday welcomed the first two flights as he commissioned N36 billion Airport at Onueke.
This is as the State Government has offered the indigenes of the state free two weekly flights from Lagos and Abuja for the next four weeks.
Speaking at the commissioning of the airport, Umahi said that the newly constructed aerodrome would be named President Muhammadu Buhari Airport for the massive supports received from the president.
Air Peace operated the first flights to the airport as its two Embraer 145 aircraft from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos touched down at the airport.
According to the governor, Buhari approved the sum of N10 billon for the take off of the project, adding that several supports were also received from the Federal Government to ensure the successful completion of the airport.
The governor said that the airport would drive development and investments in the state and appealed to investors to take the opportunity of the airport to invest in the state.
He further called on the incoming government in the state to ensure good use of the facility for the people of the Ebonyi, the South East and the entire Nigerians.
He lauded Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, Musa Nuhu, the Director -General Civil Aviation (DGCA), Alkali Madibbo, the Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria and Lawrence Pwajok, the Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA), Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Finance for their supports in ensuring the successful completion of the airport.
Besides, he commended Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace for supporting the State Government with the deployment of its two aircraft for the commissioning and for always coming to the rescue of stranded Nigerians around the world.
He said: “This is our international airport. This airport comprises local and international terminals. President Muhammadu Buhari helped us with this project by first approving for us the sum of N10 billon for its commencement. I really appreciate President Buhari for this gesture. I also want to thank the aviation community for their support, the Speaker of Ebonyi State who is taking over from me in the next few days and several others.
“When we came in, in the second term, we planned three mega projects in the South, East and Central of Ebonyi State. We planned the university project on the South, the stadium project in the East, while the airport project was planned for the Central. I want to say it here that the university project has been concluded, the airport is being commissioned, while in the next two weeks, the stadium would have reached 80 per cent completion stage.”
Umahi, however, said that the airport would be handled over to the Federal Government for proper concessioning, stressing that the State Government.
The governor declared that the airport would be formerly commissioned by President Buhari in the next 10 days and enjoined the people of the state to judiciously use the facilities.
Also commenting, Musa Nuhu, the Director -General Civil Aviation (DGCA) of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), appealed to the government to ensure regular maintenance of the airport.
Nuhu who was represented at the occasion by Emman Chukwu of NCAA said that said that the regulatory agency monitored the construction of the airport by the State Government from inception to the present stage.
He described the airport as one of the best in the country, hoping that it would be well-maintained by the State Government.
He explained that the airport would fasten growth in Ebonyi, while additional Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) would be earned through it.
He said: “This airport will open Ebonyi State to the world. When it becomes fully operational, it will create jobs and more investors will come into the state. It is always good to have a project like this and there is also the need to maintain it as at when due.
“This airport requires more expansion and I hope the incoming government will continue with this laudable project for the state.”