The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has affirmed its readiness to partner the Ekiti State Government on the establishment of an International Agro-Allied Cargo Airport in the State. This was revealed on Tuesday, by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubarkar, while playing host to the Executive Governor of Ekiti State, His Excellency, Dr Kayode Fayemi, in his office at Headquarters NAF, Abuja.
In his remarks, Air Marshal Abubarkar expressed delight over the strategic initiative to construct such an airport in Ekiti State, while noting that the project would not only provide economic opportunities but also boost security in the Southwestern part of the country by enhancing the NAF’s Air Power projection capability. He stated that the NAF already has presence in Lagos, Oyo and Osun States. Adding Ekiti State to the list, he said, would undoubtedly enhance the operations of the Service in the Southwest.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar remarked that, in addition to utilizing the Airport for enhanced Air Power projection in the Zone, the NAF would equally deploy some of its Regiment and Special Forces (SF) personnel to ensure the protection of the Airport and air assets as well as add value to internal security operations in the area. Highlighting the nexus between security and development, the CAS emphasized that there could be no tangible development in a state without the security of lives and properties. According to him, “security and development are 2 sides of the same coin. It is difficult to have one without the other”, he added. The CAS further disclosed that, as a show of its commitment, a Team would visit Ekiti State to assess the proposed site for the Airport in order to ascertain areas where the NAF could be of assistance towards the successful execution of the project. He added that the NAF would immediately initiate statutory processes and seek necessary approval for the establishment of a Base in Ekiti State.
Earlier in his remarks, Governor Fayemi, commended the CAS for his astute leadership, which, he said, has led to unprecedented transformation of the Service and resulted in repositioning the NAF for more effective employment of its assets for the protection of Nigeria and Nigerians. The Governor noted further that 40,000 Acres of land had been secured and the process for the construction of the Agro-Allied Airport had already commenced with support from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Ministry of Aviation and other relevant partners.
According to Dr Fayemi, the Airport Project, which was being coordinated by a seasoned retired NAF fighter pilot, Air Vice Marshal Adeniyi Ojuawo, would have a Category IV runway which can support all levels of civilian and military air operations. He said the Airport could also serve as Base to enhance the NAF’s Air Defence capability in the Southwest.