The Nigeria Air Force has assured the Ekiti State Government of its readiness to partner with it on its agro-allied airport project.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubarkar, who made this known during a visit to Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on Wednesday, hinted of the readiness to establish a security unit at the airport when it becomes fully operational.
Abubakar, who, together with top officials of the Force, had a meeting with Fayemi and his team, said the visit was in continuation of the meeting the Governor had with him at the NAF Headquarters in Abuja last month in respect of the cargo airport.
The NAF Chief said the Force would continue to do everything humanly possible to ensure that the country is secured.
He said President Mohammadu Buhari was passionate about the security of the country, adding that this accounted for the establishment of about 13 units of the Force in different parts of the country in the last four and a half years.
This, he said, was in addition to the acquisition of more aircrafts in the fleet.
He said: “Since the establishment of these units and other efforts by security agencies, we have seen substantial progress in terms of managing the security in those areas.”
He added that the NAF had also within the timeframe procured 22 aircrafts to support other security agencies in combating crimes and making the country safe for people to legitimately carry out their businesses without hindrances.
Abubakar said: “I am very excited with this idea of a cargo airport in Ekiti.
“The potentials are enormous and I want to assure you again that the Nigeria Air Force will be most willing to be part of this.
“That is why we have everybody that is relevant to this here.
“In this entourage, we have Chief of General Operations that deals with the issue of flying; we have the Chief of Logistics who will look into the issue of ensuring that we get an apron and making sure that we have a small unit that takes care of the Airport by the time that it is fully operational.
“We also have the Director of Air Traffic Services who is also here to look into all the logistics relating to air traffic services, so I want to assure Your Excellency, the government and good people of Ekiti State, that the Nigeria Air Force is ready to work with you to ensure that you achieve the objective of the airport.”
Expressing optimism that the project would receive support from President Buhari Muhammadu, the Air Marshal said: “After this visit, we are going to put together papers and other arguments and I am sure that the way Mr. President has always looked at the issue of security will give us an opportunity to have a unit that will support all that is going on here.”
Earlier, Governor Fayemi had disclosed that the establishment of the cargo airport would not only trigger local economy, but provide support for the utilization of the medical and biomedical resources available in the State.
The Governor, who boasted that Ekiti has produced best minds in medical profession with establishments outside the state, mentioned that the cargo airport would provide the opportunity to attract them back to the State to be of service to the people and humanity in general.
He said: “What we are actually trying to do is to develop a goal to cargo airport that is not just useful for Ekiti, but for all the neighbouring states around us in Ekiti and we have Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Osun and Edo as neighbours.
“Most people are not aware we have the best state-of-the-art teaching hospital in this country in Ekiti today.
“This is not just an agro cargo vehicle.
“It is also going to be hub for many core tourism because on a daily basis sir, open heart surgery, renal surgeries are taking place at the Afe Babalola Teaching Hospital and we have a lot of our medical experts, we have produced the very best minds in Medicine but because we don’t have a space for retaining them, they are all over the place, they are outside the country.
“This is an opportunity for us to bring them back home to be of service to our people and to humanity in general.”
Fayemi restated that the establishment of smart city around the airport to create a knowledge economy hub would also help the State to sustain its educational heritage and create wealth for the people of the State.
The Governor said: “We don’t want to lose that edge we want to take that advantage that we already have and turn it to a wealth creator, you can have education for education sake but you can also have education to serve a wider purpose, particularly for wealth creation and that is why we are building the smart city to turn this to knowledge economy as a hub in our country.”
Earlier ,the Technical Adviser to the Governor on the airport, AVM Adeniyi Ojuawo (rtd), who made a presentation on the project, disclosed that the State Government had secured approval from the Federal Government, State Security Services, paid NCAA permit and certification fees of N125 million and has conducted aerial survey and Land Survey of the project area.
Ojuawo added that the State Government has started crop enumeration, perimeter fencing, resolved all litigations regarding the projects and has turned the SOD of the land.
He said the airport project would enhance farmers productivity, make the State accessible through air, bring about rapid economic growth and development and fulfill the desire for national defence.