The Leaders of South Eastern states has expressed gratitude to President Buhari for the reopening and recommencement of flight operations into the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu after the rehabilitation of the runway.
This is as the first commercial flight, ‘Air Peace No. 5N-BUV’, landed at the Airport. The flight brought government officials and some members of the National Assembly for the inauguration of the complex.
Another aircraft, an Air Peace Embraer 145- with registration marks 5N-BUV also landed at the airport.
The aircraft conveyed former Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Minister of Labour and productivity, Chris Ngige; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, Minister of State, Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
Also conveyed were Chairman of the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi and Nnolim Nnaji and members of the House and Senate Committees on Aviation.
The South-East leaders showered encomiums on the President for keeping his word and rehabilitating the airport runway within a year as promised by the Minister.
The Governors present from the South East include Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Dave Umayi of Ebonyi, Willy Obiano of Anambra, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Deputy Governor Imo State.
The Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who thanked the president for approving N10bn to start and fast track the rehabilitation of the runway and other critical infrastructure at the airport.
He said,” The Enugu state government, in a bid to ensure a levelling environment to help the project along completely removed all the obstacles and projects including the Emene market which attracted birds and was a safety concern.
“Complete removal of all encroachment at the airport environment, We totally removed the radio and television mast from the airport, we constructed a 1.3 km asphalt road.
“We removed five units of two-storey houses, 14 units of houses, one church cathedral, 438 shopping malls along Eleme among other things. We did a number of sacrifice for the Enugu airport and now it is a sacrifice that is worth it.
The Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi who narrated how the southeastern states banded together to ensure the airport rehabilitation is a reality.
The Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who spoke demanded three things for the hub of the South East including immediate commercial flights, approval of more international flights and the completion of the cargo section of the airport.
He said, “We want immediate commercial flights to start coming into Enugu. We also seek the approval of more international flights into Enugu Airport, Emirates and others and we wish the president to finish the cargo section of the airport.
Particularly, he expressed gratitude to Late President Umaru Yar’Adua who granted approval for Enugu to be designated an international airport after its approval as an airport on October 22, 1976.
He thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for ensuring that the airport is gazetted as an international airport and the start of operations then he expressed profound thanks to President Muhammad Buhari for seeing it through to the end.