Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first Africa-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet
USAfrica: Obiano says Anambra airport shows “resilience of the Anambra Spirit”; thanks Buhari
In the company and support of several community leaders, legislators, clergy, political leaders and supporters, the Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria Chief Willie Obiano announced and commissioned the Anambra International Cargo & Passenger Airport, Umueri on Saturday, October 30, 2021.
“I thank Buhari for approving this airport. Also (Hadi) Sirika for the oversight activities he did here, and also Nuhu of NCAA (Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu is the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority).
“This airport has been certified and has met all needs for commercial purposes. Unfortunately, the flights that were fully booked for today, both from Abuja and Lagos could not come because the regulatory authorities said the commercial airlines that will operate here will need to have counters here before operations will start.
“The airlines that will operate in this airport include Air Peace, Ibom Air, Dana Air, United Nigeria Air and Anab Jets. They will have to set up their counter before flights will commence.”
Obiano who was accompanied by the First Lady of Anambra, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, to the event had such dignitaries as the Speaker of the Anambra state House of Assembly Uche Okafor, some members of the national and State assemblies, APGA National Chairman Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye, APGA’s governorship candidate in the Saturday November 6 election, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, his running mate Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, APGA’s former national Chairman Sen. Victor Umeh, Commissioner for Works, Marcel Ifejiofor, some members of the Governor’s cabinet, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Jnr, and others
USAfrica magazine and USAfricaonline.com obtained a copy of the address by Gov. Obiano to mark the event:
Ndi Anambra, this is the day we have all been waiting for…this is our day of Pentecost.
In every generation, history is not only made when the Red Sea is divided for God’s chosen people to walk through. No. History is also made when a leader gives shape and form to the silent dreams of his people. Ndi Anambra, the dream we have all nurtured for many years has finally come true today.
This airport is an idea whose time has come. We fought many battles to be here today. We scaled over incredible financial huddles; survived the global lockdown by COVID-19, conquered self-doubts and flattened out five hills to construct this glorious runaway and to the glory of Almighty God, Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport Umueri is rated as one of the best airports in Africa today.
I am told that some people often ask, why should Anambra have an airport when there are airports in neighbouring states?
My reply is, why should Anambra not have an airport?
Why should a state that hosts the largest retail market in West Africa not have an airport? Why should a state that hosts West Africa’s only auto-city not have an airport? Why should a state whose indigenes pioneered organized road transport and logistics-handling in Nigeria not have an airport? Why should a state with the highest number of owners of private jets in Nigeria not have an airport? And why, please tell me why, should a state with the largest population of itinerant and travelling people in Nigeria not have an airport? Why? Why should we crawl when we can fly?
Happily, I have been repeatedly assured by aviation experts that this airport will be one of the most viable airports in Nigeria very soon. I have also been assured that what we have here is one of the most modern airports in Africa. This airport has a runway of 3.7km. It is Nigeria’s second longest runway. It is second only to Murutala Mohammed International Airport Lagos. But it has a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of 1km on either side of the runway. Unlike the MMIA Lagos, an aircraft can land on either side of our runway. I guess that makes it special.
In addition, this airport is equipped with a Satellite Landing System for navigational ease. It is equipped with Category 2 Light. This is among the best airfield lighting system in the world today which makes it possible for flights to land even in the worst weather. It also has Instrument Landing System which ensures that the aircraft is vertically and horizontally aligned to the runway while landing. Our runway is 270 mm thick. That ensures that airbuses, including Boeing 747 can land with ease in this airport.
The Apron measures 200×300 meters wide and 560mm thick. Our apron can comfortably accommodate 8 Boeing 747. It is connected to the Runway by two Taxiways.
Ndi Anambra, our Control Tower is 34.5 meters high or 11 floors tall. It is equipped with a lift and a staircase. But the most important detail about our Control Tower is that it has an inbuilt fire fighting mechanism. A 350kva standby generator is at the service of our Control Tower
The terminal building has a capacity to accommodate 400 passengers at a time. The scanning machines have all been installed and fully are functional. There are two carousels, three elevators, 36 shops and a VIP Lounge. The terminal building has a most audacious design. The roof is made up of several layers of aluminum and insulator to reduce the intensity of heat and the noise of rainfall. That is why it does not have a conventional ceiling as we know it. The terminal building has a car-park that can accommodate 750 cars at once.
Electricity supply to the airport is well planned and functional with 18 hours of light everyday supplied from the substation at Agu Awka. We also have 800kva generator on standby in case of a power outage.
This airport is classified as Category 9. This means that it is equipped with three crash tenders of 6×6 with a capacity to dispense 12,000 liters of water at a time. The airport is served by two industrial boreholes and an overhead tank of 21 meters high and a storage facility of 163 cubic meters of water and two surface tanks for fire-fighting with 640 cubic meters of water. We also have 20 water hydrants.
The meteorological garden is fully equipped and ready. Our Emergency Operation Center/Clinic is ready with two ambulances; a public address system and other essential equipment fully installed.
The dual carriage way leading to this airport from the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway measures 5.7km long and has been completed. It has two bridges and it is well lit at night with dazzling streetlights from end to end.
Meanwhile, we have provided land to the management of Air Peace for the proposed construction of the aircraft maintenance hanger within the airport. We have also allocated land to the Nigerian Air Force to set up their operational base here in the airport.
In all, we have trained 295 people in various critical operational areas for the take off of the airport. During its construction, this airport put over 2500 in direct employment. Over 400 people will be employed as it finally goes into commercial operation. The process will be gradual. But there will be more jobs for our people. Ndi Anambra, we are ready to welcome the world. We are international now!
I must emphasize here that this airport was built from start to finish without borrowing a kobo from the federal government or any financial institution. I must also emphasize that the Government of Anambra State does not owe any contractor for jobs done in this airport. But I must however acknowledge the historic role played by the Anambra State Board of Internal Revenue which lifted our IGR from N8.7bn I inherited when I assumed office in 2014 to N28bn as at the end of 2020. In all likelihood, this airport would have been difficult to complete without their support.
In conclusion, Ndi Anambra, here is your airport. The economic viability of this airport is in your hands. For years you have done it for others. Now is the time to do it for yourselves…do it for your home State!
Umu nnem, this airport is a monument to the resilience of the Anambra Spirit. It is a tribute to the Vision of our great party, APGA. Our dear state needs sustenance of vision. We need a man whose vision is globally acclaimed; a man who will turn this airport into a beehive of rewarding commercial activities. That man is Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.
Ndi Anambra, our dear state is on the runway. We need a competent pilot to take us to a destination where the land is green with opportunities.