Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has said that its personnel would soon begin initial flights into the newly-built Bayelsa International Airport to enhance its operations in the Niger Delta region.
The Air Officer Commanding Mobility Command, Yenagoa, Air Vice Marshal Ibukun Ojeyemi, described the airport as an “amazing facility with state-of-the-art-equipment” and noted that the air force does not need a civil license to use the airport.
Ojeyemi said that a ‘standard and evaluation” assessment had already been carried out, adding that he visited the airport on the second day of his resumption of duty in the state and expressed the readiness of the NAF to use the facility pending the issuance of the civil aviation license for the commencement of the facility’s operations.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, said Ojeyemi made the assertion attributed to him when he led a delegation of senior officers of NAF on a visit to Governor Seriake Dickson.
The statement quoted Ojeyemi: “I want to thank you for the wonderful projects you have done here, in terms of the international and cargo airport.
“It was my second day here that I was at the airport. I saw the terminal building. I saw the safety equipment there, wonderful and fine equipment, brand new, operational and I saw that you equally put a tanker to support the fire services.
“We do not need civil license for us to use the airport because we have what we call, ‘standard and evaluation of an airport.’ Once any airport meets the standard of the Air force, which is common with all the air forces worldwide, it equates our own license.
“I want to congratulate you. It is the grace of God that has kept you on this seat and even as you are rounding off, I wish you fulfillment where you are going.”
Responding, Dickson called for increased presence of NAF in the state in view of the completion of the state’s international airport to enhance its operations.
He also urged NAF to take due advantage of the airport even before the issuance of the operational license to the state.
He said, “The Air force is our real number one partner in protecting these assets. Feel free to use the airport anytime as you deem fit before the civil aviation license even comes.
“I want to request that you begin the process of sending in your officers and men to have real presence over that airport. It’s our joint baby. We have done our part.
“The facility is ready and we have landed planes there. We need the support of the air force in safeguarding and protecting the area.”
Dickson also expressed his administration’s willingness to make land available to enable the mobility command to establish long term development projects that would be mutually beneficial to both the air force and the state.
The governor assured that the Certificate of Occupancy (CoC) for a secondary school in Zarama, Yenagoa Local Government Area, which the state government donated to NAF would be ready before his administration comes to an end to facilitate its take off in September this year.
Dickson also hinted of the state government’s might hand over some of its schools to all the arms of the military in order to instill discipline and academic excellence in the youths.