By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, have described the airport project being constructed in Ekiti as a catalyst that will strengthen and boost the economy of the state.
They spoke in Ado Ekiti on Friday while flagging off the construction of the Agro-allied Airport project located along Ado-Ijan road.
Sirika said an airport project has been globally recognised as a catalyst for growth and development, adding that the one in Ekiti will not be an exemption, especially for being specially fashioned to play dual roles in air transportation.
“Airport project brings businesses and drives the economy. It employs and strengthens the economy, so we are going to make success of this project.
“The federal government will support everything about this project, particularly the cargo aspect of it because the good atmospheric condition of Ekiti and the lurching vegetation and good soil will help to produce farm products that can be exported within and outside the country.
“The per capital income of N1,060 for Ekiti shows how viable the state is economically. So the siting of an airport is not by size alone, but by viability.
“Apart from this, Ekiti is 750 feet above sea level and in aviation industry, it is believed that this will help to produce good oxygen for airplane to perform optimally.
“The federal government is ready to support this project and it shall be a success,” he assured.
Governor Fayemi said the vision to construct an airport in Ekiti predated his administration, adding that it began in 2008 when Mr. Tunde Omotoba was the Minister of Aviation in the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration.
Fayemi added that the conceptualisation of the project made the federal government to set aside some funds for its construction in the 2009 budgetary provision.
“Despite this budgetary provision, the project could not materialise. In 2012, I set up a committee headed by Afe Babalola to look at the possibility of establishing an airport in Ekiti and the committee came up with a report.
“Having conceptualised the project, the African Development Bank had studied the long and short term benefits of this project and has decided to support us in realising the dream.
“We got the letter of approval in May 2019 to start this project that will be built on 4,000 hectares of land and will be easily accessible by all Ekiti through the ring road that will be constructed around it.
“Ekiti must be opened to national and international business patronages to open up the economy and for Ekiti to become a medical tourism, with the landmark works being done at the Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital.
“Though, some people thought Ekiti is too small in size to have an airport, but commitment and vision are the tonic we need to make the project a reality to make Ekiti join the global industrial revolution,” he said.
An eminent lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola(SAN), who has been agitating for the construction of an airport since 2010, applauded the federal government and Governor Fayemi for fulfilling part of the dreams of the founding fathers of the state upon its creation in 1996.
“I commend Governor Fayemi for this project because it will translate to economic benefit for Ekiti now and for generations yet unborn,” Babalola said.