By Abiodun Nejo
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Saturday, inaugurated Ekiti State Agro-Allied Passenger International Airport to the delight of Ekiti people who were excited about the landing of the first aeroplane in the state.
Coincidentally, the airport along Ijan-Ado road in the state capital marked the last project inaugurated for use by the administration of Dr Kayode Fayemi shortly before he was pulled out of office as governor at a modest occasion at the Government House.
The Ekiti State Governor-elect, Biodun Oyebanji, would be inaugurated as governor of the state on Sunday, October 16, 2022, for a term of four years following the expiration on Saturday, October 15 of the four-year tenure of Fayemi.
Sirika disclosed that the Federal Government would site a cargo facility at the airport, saying the Ekiti Airport was “an extremely very important project” which would facilitate the import and export of goods and commodities and drive the state economy.
The minister said, “I was at ABUAD, I saw the university, the farm, the industrial park and the hospital. If there is an airport here, it will connect people to this facility and reduce foreign medical tourism. Airports are by no means the best catalysts for economic growth of any state or nation.
“Thirty-five per cent of global trade by value is moved through airports and $18.6 billion of cargo is moved daily through air transportation. The wealthy among you should take to agriculture for example and begin to produce things that you will export to other parts of the world.
“You can be land-locked, but you cannot be sky-locked. We can all see the importance of having a facility like this. Thank you Mr Governor, you have provided this facility for the people of Ekiti State; they should own it, they should own it,” the minister said.
Fayemi, who expressed satisfaction with the success of the project 10 years after its conception during his first administration in 2012, especially on the last day of his administration, said, “My job is done, Ekiti Kete”.
Fayemi, who assured Ekiti people that the federal roads in dilapidated condition would be given attention to bring relief to the users and complement the newly inaugurated airport, said that he, alongside the Minister of Industry, Adeniyi Adebayo and the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe had been making representations to the Federal Government on the state of federal roads in Ekiti.
In his welcome address, Mr Zhang Zichen, the Chairman of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, which handled the project, said the airport would change the face of the state economy by opening up Ekiti to more development and investment to the benefit of the state and business community.