A’ Ibom Aviation hub the best kept secret  – Aviation minister

By Anietie Usen, Uyo reporting

For three hours yesterday Tuesday, January 16, 2024, Government House, Uyo, practically relocated to the Victor Attah International Airport to host the Minister for Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, who was on a one-day working visit to Akwa Ibom State.

A surprised Keyamo told journalists that the Akwa Ibom Aviation hub comprising of a Digital International Terminal, a massive Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, MRO, a new 3.5 kilometers runway, is “the best kept secret in Nigeria… the best terminal building built by a sub-national in the country”.

The visibly elated minister said he felt a sense of relief to discover that a subnational like Akwa Ibom State has in place what he thought would take the country many years to accomplish. “This is an incredible facility we have here…What we have here is a hidden jewel. It’s all for the good of our dear nation. This is so beautiful. I have never seen a subnational that is so dedicated, so committed to a project of this magnitude as much as Akwa Ibom State”.

He said one of his first callers after he was sworn in as the aviation minister was Obong Victor Attah, the former governor of the state and what he talked about after congratulating him was the need for the aviation ministry to throw its weight behind the airport in Akwa Ibom.

According to Keyamo, that showed how united and committed the leaders and people of Akwa Ibom State are united and singleminded about the development of the state.

“God has blessed this state with successive governors who have put their minds to this, and Governor Eno is the finisher and perfecter of this hub,” said the minister.

Keyamo told journalists that one of the first things he identified when he came into office as Aviation Minister was the need for Nigeria to have a world class Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO).

“What I have seen here, meets that need. By the time it becomes fully operational, I am very certain it will capture the whole of the markets in West and Central Africa and even up to North Africa and that’s what we have been looking for…With this facility, we can conserve foreign… to meet other international obligations,” he said.

According to the minister, the facilities at the airport is not just an Akwa Ibom property but belong to Nigeria, pledging the federal government support to quickly complete outstanding works at the MRO and the international terminal.

“I just want to thank God for the people of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria for blessing us with a facility such as this. By the time we do all our certifications, I am sure we will be ready for the world. This facility is not just for Akwa Ibom State alone, it is for Nigeria and Africa”, the minister said.

He commended Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State who conducted him around the airport for his determination to complete the projects and promised a full scale support of the hub by the federal government. “The dedication to this project has been phenomenal. I will mobilize all the agencies in my Ministry, all the regulatory bodies to make sure they give you 100 percent support. The DG of NCAA is here and we stand ready to give you all our maximum support. I want to thank Governor Eno, for the passion he has shown towards this project since he came into office”, the minister added.

On his part, Governor Eno, thanked the Minister for leaving his comfort zone in Abuja, to pay a working visit to the state. Surrounded by members of the State Executive Council as well as the Managing Director of Ibom Air, Captain Mfon Udom, the Chief Operating Officer of the Airline, George Uriesi, the DG of his Campaign Organization, Barr. Assam Assam, SAN, and other stakeholders, Governor Eno expressed confidence that the working visit of the minister portends good tidings for Akwa Ibom State.

“What we have here is already an aviation ecosystem that Nigeria can work with and start competing with the rest of Africa and indeed the world. We therefore believe that whatever else remains to be done, the Honourable Minister will direct the appropriate agencies and departments under his Ministry to follow- through”, the governor said.

The governor also heaped praises on President Bola Tinubu for being “a great father of the nation”. He added that Akwa Ibom “remains dedicated to supporting and showing our loyalty to his (Tinubu’s) government”.

It would be recalled that Governor Eno, in his meeting with President Tinubu had solicited among other things for the support of the federal government in the take-off of the MRO and the Smart International Airport Terminal. The governor had also earlier paid a courtesy call on the Minster of Aviation, in Abuja. The visit of the Aviation Minister and his top officials was a culmination of the governor’s efforts.

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