The South East Governors Forum (SEGF) has expressed optimism that the Federal Government will soon rehabilitate facilities at the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu as it recently promised.
Director of Media and Communication at SEGF Secretariat, Mike Uda, stated this at a press briefing in Enugu, yesterday, to announce activities marking the fifth anniversary of commencement of international flight operations at the airport.
He explained that despite the challenges, South Easterners have every reason to celebrate the milestone because the airport remained a strategic monument in the region.
“It’s not an accident that SEGF is collaborating with I-Tour Africa. Aviation is a national thing, but for us in the South East, it’s a historical monument. It’s symbolic and dear to us in the sense that we don’t have many monuments in the region.
“We are glad that the Federal Government is up and doing with respect to the entreaties of South East governors on the airport.
“We hope that government will this time around do something about the issues raised by the South East governors recently,” he stated.
Chief Executive Officer of I-Tour Africa, technical partners for the programme, said the celebrations will be in two segments including formal reception of an Ethiopian airline operated flight and tour of airport facilities.
It will end with a symposium/cocktail as well as award of recognition to some stakeholders that have contributed in sustaining the airport.
The first international flight, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, landed in the airport on August 23, 2013.
Meanwhile, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has announced plans to constitute a stakeholders’ committee that would look into and resolve issues on the expansion of the airport.
The committee members, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Ogbuagu Anikwe, will comprise officials of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority.
Ministries of Lands/Infrastructure, Commerce and Industry, and the management of ENPOWER Free Trade Zone will join the committee, the state government added.
The state government, which noted the importance of the international airport to the people of the South East geopolitical zone, reiterated its commitment to continue to support “every effort required to be made to get it functioning at optimum capacity and efficiency.”
The state government explained that the stakeholders would have to unravel what appeared to be a disagreement among federal authorities operating in Enugu State, regarding ownership of vast hectares of land that the state government has so far approved around the airport for their use.
“If at the end of the meeting, it is established that any of the parties still needed more land, especially for the airport project, Enugu state government will promptly attend to this need.”