The Enugu State government has promised to partner the Federal Government to complete and operationalize the international wing of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu as well as build a cargo terminal as a boost to the state’s and nation’s economic growth and enhance tourism capacity.
Peter Mbah, governor of the state, made his government’s intention known after playing host to Kabir Yusuf Mohammed, managing director and chief executive officer of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), at Government House Enugu.
He said that the operationalization of the international terminal and construction of the cargo terminal and warehouse at the airport was critical to Enugu’s drive for a-$30 billion economy.
“For us, the cargo terminal is critical. You know that we are migrating agriculture to agro-allied industrialisation. That means agriculture will not just be for food, it will also be for export. And the cargo terminal is critical if we are going to engage in exports. We need to be able to export from here. That is why we are looking at partnering with FAAN to ensure that we start and complete a cargo terminal and operationalize it.
“As you can see, the international wing is almost complete. So, we need to have it operationalized. Until we get it functional, we will not be able to make money from it, and it will not impact anybody. We will not be able to create value for the people of Enugu or South East and indeed the entire country.
“Again, if you look at the huge economic development plan we have expressed to our people, tourism is core there. We are looking at attracting over three million visitors to Enugu yearly. That cannot happen just by road. It is going to occur by flying, getting people from all across the different parts of the world to come to Enugu; and that will mean having an international airport, this terminal, in operation. That is why we are looking at how we can work with FAAN to ensure the completion of this wing of the airport and operationalize it,” Mbah stated.
Mbah also assured that FAAN and the state government would explore funding models to actualize the project.
“Now, we believe that projects like these are bankable because they are also revenue-yielding projects. So, there is no reason we cannot find a financing model that will work for us and ensure that this project is realised. The ultimate thing is to get it operationalized”.
He further said that the state government and the FAAN team had fruitful discussions on timeline to ensure the speedy completion of both projects and are going to be working out a strategic framework of action of where they are going to, in all the functional areas, and spell out timelines that they need to complete the project. “But this time, it will not just be words; we will go beyond that to putting those words into action”, the governor assured.
Speaking to newsmen after a courtesy visit to the governor and tour of the facility, Mohammed commended Mbah’s zeal and sense of urgency towards the actualisation and operationalization of the two terminals, saying there was no better time to discuss partnership and collaboration than now.
He said that his team met with the governor with a view to collaborate with FAAN in order to make the international terminal functional.
“Enugu, as the capital of the South-Eastern region, is where we know that there are a lot of traders, who trade in different kinds of things across the globe.
“So, having in place a cargo terminal here, will go a long way in improving the economy of the South-East Zone and the nation,” the FAAN boss stated.