The Osun state government has partnered Nigerian Air Force to build Africa’s first and largest aviation city in Ido-Osun.
The initiative, according to the government, is a testament to the current administration’s untiring efforts to keep the dream of having an airport in Osun alive.
This is even as Osun Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Wednesday, handed over the runway and airport corridor for the commencement of the construction phase of the project.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Oladayo Amoo, who led the Nigerian Air Force delegation to Osun, lauded Oyetola for what he described as a major milestone in the state’s history, describing the partnership as another developmental stride in the State.
According to him, the aviation city is sequel to the relocation of the Research and Development Centre of the Force from Kaduna to Osogbo in 2021, in addition to the existing Nigerian Air Force Institute of Safety and a Special Operation Force Group at Ipetu-Ijesha.
Describing the components of the project, Amoo, who was represented by the Principal Director, Air Force Research and Development Centre, Air Vice Marshall M. O. Onilede, said: “The project would include an aircraft manufacturing plant, a maintenance repair organisation and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle production centre, amongst others.
“It would be the first of its kind on the continent.
“The runway is therefore a critical requirement for these facilities. This is why this occasion today is not only a laudable one but a major milestone towards many other achievements”.
Handing over the official documents of the runway and airport corridor to the Chief of Air Staff, Governor Oyetola said his administration has taken the bull by the horns to ensure that the State keeps the dream of having an airport in Osun alive.
He added that the handover ceremony signalled the beginning of another mutually-beneficial relationship with the Nigerian Air Force to speed up the construction and accelerate the completion of the airport.
“As a government that is desirous of diversifying the State’s economy, we realized early enough that the completion of the Osun airport would aid our economic transformation efforts. We however became helpless when confronted with the humongous amount required to make the dream a reality, especially in the face of competing demands in a depressed economy.
“As a government given to creative alternatives to meet societal needs, we embarked on a diplomatic shuttle, first by visiting the Minister of Aviation and later the Chief of Air Staff, all in the quest to develop the airport corridor.
“Efforts of the State Government through the Ministry of Works and Transport resulted in several meetings and inspection visits by the officials of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Air force.
“Our visit to the Chief of Air Staff yielded positive results, and since then, the Chief of Air Staff has remained true to the commitment reached, first by relocating the Airforce Research and Development Centre, which I am told will carry out research into manned and unmanned aircraft, missiles, rockets and other war items, to Osun and later by requesting for 100 hectares of land along the airport corridor in Ido-Osun for the purpose of establishing an Air Force Base.
“However, we could only get 60 hectares along that axis for the Air Force Base in Ido-Osun. When we needed additional land, to accommodate parts of the Airforce Base project, specifically, the barracks, Osun Government approached the Nigerian Army.
“I personally wrote to the Army authority, requesting it to grant us additional 50 hectares of land from the military acquired land along the Osogbo-Kelebe axis of the State for the barracks and the army graciously granted our request. I cannot thank the Chief of Army Staff enough for the gesture.
“I am happy to inform this gathering that our diplomatic shuttle to the Federal Ministry of Aviation also yielded positive results. But it is heart-warming and a thing of joy that it is at this stage of the collaborative efforts of the State Government and the Federal Ministry of Aviation at developing the Airport that the Nigerian Air Force indicated its desire to use the entire Airport Land for its Aviation Technology City project, which I am told will be the first of its kind in Africa. We are indeed lucky in Osun and I feel proud to have been part of this history.
“I would like to state here that the request by the Nigerian Air Force for the State Government to cede the Runway and the entire Airport corridor to them is hereby granted. The corridor will be developed for both military and civilian use.
“Let me state, as we are executing the ceremonial handover today, that all the support that will be required for the effective take-off of the Osun airport will be provided by the State. We shall also keep the Nigerian Airforce abreast of the issues with the previous technical design of the airport, as pointed out by the Ministry of Aviation. They will guide the Force in the execution of the project”, Oyetola added.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Works and Transport, Engr. Remi Omowaye, described the project as critical to the state’s drive to become a viable investment destination.
He lauded Governor Oyetola for giving life to the airport project, for which approval was got in 2007.