Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, on Thursday, performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the Nigeria Air Force base at the Ekiti Agro Allied International Airport.
Speaking at the elaborate ceremony at the site of the base in Igbemo-Ekiti Governor Oyebanji said the project was aimed at developing a new frontier of economic activities, strengthening security architecture and tourism development in the state, adding that as a land-locked state, there was an urgent need to open and connect the economy to the rest of the world.
While noting that the state was already driving towards establishing an aviation economy by taking advantage of its geography as a state and nearness to the political and commercial capitals of the nation, the Governor added that without aviation and security infrastructure, the state’s ambition to grow tourism infrastructure and prosperity agenda for the people would remain a mirage.
Governor Oyebanji posited that the turning of the sod was in fulfilment of the strategic vision of expanding security architecture and air military presence in the state, recalling that one of the reasons the state opted for the airport with the capacity to land any aircraft including military, was to ensure adequate and effective security of the people.
He stated further that the establishment of an Airport in the state was in fulfilment of the overall vision of his administration to make Ekiti the ultimate medical tourism destination in West Africa with the first class medical services being provided at Afe Babalola Multisystem Hospital and other tertiary medical facilities such as Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, and Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido-Ekiti.
While commending the contribution of the Chairman, Organizing Committee of the Airport Project, AVM Afolabi Ojuawo (rtd.), the Governor called on Ekiti indigenes at home and in the diaspora to emulate him by using their position to attract development to the state and boost its economy.
He solicited the support of the citizens of the state to cooperate with investors in the state to record a seamless developmental programme as the state would continue to witness an influx of investors who would need partnership as well as land.
Governor Oyebanji Commended the Chief of the Air Staff and the entire Air force for their laudable achievements assuring them of the unflinching support of the people and government of the state for the timely completion of the project.
“It will be recalled that one of the reasons we opted for this airport, which is situated on 4072 hectares of land with the capacity to land any aircraft including military, is to secure our people.
“It, therefore, delights me greatly that today’s event is in fulfilment of our strategic vision of expanding security architecture and air military presence in our dear State. It will be recalled that one of the reasons we opted for this airport, which is situated on 4072 hectares of land with the capacity to land any aircraft including military, is to secure our people.
Let me reiterate the fact that the decision to have an airport in our State is primarily for economic, security, and tourism development. As a landlocked State, we need to open and connect our economy to the rest of the world. As an agrarian economy, one of the ways to expand our economy is to find a way to connect our farm produce to the international market and to develop new frontiers of economic opportunities.
“Let me, therefore, use this medium to express my profound appreciation to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oludayo Amao for his commitment to the actualisation of the Air Force Operational Base in Ekiti and in particular for his promise to immediately activate the Air Defence project by establishing an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operational unit in Ekiti to cater for the air defence needs of the southwestern region of the country.
Earlier, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao said Nigerian Air Force had been employing airpower in support of the overall to tackle security situations such as terrorism, insurgency, armed banditry and kidnapping, adding that part of the measures to urgently addressing the challenges was to establish new bases in strategic locations of which Ekiti was benefitting from.
AM Amao noted that the base would help the Air Force to effectively perform its security obligation in the state in particular and southwest in general.
While commending President Mohammadu Buhari for authorizing the acquisition of a modern and well-equipped platform to boost Nigerian Air Force air power employment and projection capabilities and air combat training, the Air force Chief stated that there would soon be a deployment of Aircraft to Ekiti state to strengthen the response to security challenges in the state and the southwest geo-political and to as well impact its readiness and responsiveness to security challenges facing the country.
In attendance at the event were members of the state executive councils, traditional rulers, and Airforce officials.