A foremost aviation expert in Nigeria and former chairman of the Airport Concession Committee of the Federal Government, Captain Dele Ore, has said that the MKO Abiola International Airport, Ido-Osun will be one of the most viable ports in Nigeria when completed.
He said when completed, the project has huge potentials to contribute to the growth of the nation’s economy.
Ore, who recalled his various landings at what used to be an airstrip before the commencement of the reconstruction into a full-fledged airport, told Governor Rauf Aregbesola, not to listen to skeptics who had condemned the project on what he (Ore) described as informed positions.
Captain Ore, who was part of a delegation of aviation experts who visited Aregbesola, said he had laughed at the ignorance of those who had criticized the project saying that the state would not be able to cope with the booming jobs opportunities that the airport would bring to the state.
Captain Ore told the Governor, “I have listened to arguments of some people who are asking why is Osun building an airport. I have told people like that that, look, lets build airport in every village…
It will bring populace to the area. When it is completed, the concept of aerotropolis (human settlements connected to the airport) that we are talking about will make the whole world want to come there for leisure, for business shopping and other reasons.”
The veteran aviation expert said job opportunities that would be created with the airport are so huge that Osun would require to bring in people to work in the state from neighbouring states.
He said, “The kind of job, manpower its going to provide for this state, this state wont be able to cope with it, you will have to employ people from other states because you would have taken care of your own citizens. Just with one stroke, you will then have the capability to get even processed produce because there is no way this government won’t get encouragements for more agricultural activities; export raw materials and even finished products. This means that the factories that will power all these activities swill be all situated around the place and provide jobs for our people.”
He told Aregbesola that already, the investment company has received interests from credible aviation investments companies across the world that have expressed interests adding that it is just a matter of time for the Osun airport project to become a full reality.
He said as one of those pilots that used the facility during his flying days, Ore said the airport is well positioned for navigational equipment adding that up till he quit flying, funds were still made available for its maintenance but no maintenances were carried out.
Responding, Governor Aregbesola said both economic and historical reasons were responsible for the interests in the development of the MKO Abiola International Airport.
He told the team of investors that as the site where airlifting was done in the whole of British West Africa, the Ido Osun airstrip possessed some historical attractions for future tourists.
He said, “The Europeans don’t just act on instincts. They studied the Geography of West Africa. Because they were preparing for the First World War, they knew that they would airlift troops from here to Sudan enroute Burma. They therefore sought for a flat plato where they could easily be configured to land an aircraft. And that was how Ido Osun became the first landing strip in British West Africa.”
Aregbesola said his government has remained unwavering in its resolve to complete the project because according to him, all issues were critically considered before his administration sought to take the project up from the stage of approval from the Federal Government which his predecessor had reached.
He said he was convinced that the airport has potential to provide huge jobs opportunities noting that those who have condemned it on the basis of proximity to Ibadan and other airports have not looked at all other dimensions.
“It’s a function of your economy. More than two million people transit the Dubai Airport everyday,” Aregbesola said.
The Governor said he is so convinced on the viability of the project that he has been prospecting for investors and partners that would make it a huge success in the whole of Africa.
He said, “On assumption of office, I met the arrangement- the designs, etc and I now sought for and got the interests of manufacturers of aircrafts like the Boeing. I was already prospecting that of Bombardier plus the Nigerian Air Force to have a hub for aircraft maintenance. This was because we found out that whatever the Nigerian Airways had, was already moribund and that all aircrafts in Nigeria could only do D Checks, locally. For everything beyond routine maintenance, they have to go overseas.
“Our first objective was to develop an airport that would serve as maintenance depot for aircraft and all flying objects. And this, we are sure, would bring in unimaginable opportunities.”m