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Wednesday, September 19, 2018



Evelyn-A. B. Ibanga  

In keeping with the development agenda of the state administration, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has received the backing of a former Governor of the state, Obong Victor Attah, to pursue to conclusion, the completion of the Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul, MRO, facility at the Ibom International Airport.

Governor Emmanuel received the support when the former Governor led a delegation which included Board Members of the Ibom Airport Development Company and Consultant on the Airport Project, to visit him at Government House, Uyo.

The Governor acknowledged that the MRO project, was a major investment that would attract more revenue to the state, reteirating his administration's commitment to the realization of the project to serve the need it was conceived.

"The MRO is one asset that activity must bring revenue and revenue is what will bring sustenance and return on our investment. It is one project that would yield adequate return. I personally see it as a major investment, not one of those state government social investment and it is a good project for Nigeria", the Governor stated.

He maintained  that the state government has not relented in efforts to ensure that the MRO commenced operations, recalling that his administration has carried out re-assessment of the facility and mentioned the assurances gotten from the Chief of the Air Staff to partner the state for the maintenance of Airforce aircrafts in the facility.

"We have re-assessed the MRO facilities, we've conducted what I call, an expert opinion on the stage of completion and what we need to do. We brought in an international valuer expert too, who did the valuation because we are in talks with many partners.We have  visited a lot of aviation maintenance corporate bodies across the globe, including  Canada and Scotland, trying to find partners", Emmanuel remarked.

The Governor further explained that the completion of the facility was delayed due to the  inability to find a committed operator who would agree to the terms of operations by the state government, adding, "we got one who gave us an estimate and our contribution. We were ready but we discovered that he, too, had not signed the back to back agreement with the assurance that all the regional aircrafts would be maintained here".

While appealing to the Chief of  the Air Staff to keep to his promise, Emmanuel express readiness to collaborate with the Federal Government on the maintenance of the proposed national carrier, noting that even though the MRO is at 70% completion, the state is willing to give concessions in terms of equity and sharing in order to make the facility operational.

He applauded the passion exhibited by Obong Attah towards the development of Akwa Ibom, saying that his efforts at ensuring utilization of the facility was purely out of love for the state and appreciated his commitment to the vision conceived during his tenure as Governor.

Receiving the report on what could be done to fast-track the completion and utilization of the facility, the State Chief Executive assured of careful study of the report and application of the recommendations, while noting the desire of government to regularly tap from the wealth of experience of the former Governor. 

He said, "Honestly, we are not relenting, this would rather spur us more. We will study this report and also align with what our consultant had actually given to us. Believe me, we'll take immediate action on the areas we've not done but the areas we've done, we'll share information so that you see what we have done. We also appreciate your advice on how we can fast track this".

Earlier, Obong Attah  pointed out that completion of the MRO would open up employment opportunities for the people and increase the internally generated revenue of the state, urging the state government to 'take the bull by the horn" and ensure the functionality of the facility.

Attah, who was the initiator of the Ibom Airport project, recalled that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, had acknowledged that there was no MRO in the West African Sub region that was close to the facility at the Ibom Airport, adding that the aviation body had presented a very encouraging report after inspecting the facility in the state.

He particularly mentioned a part of the NCAA's report which observed that the absence of a major MRO facility in Africa has caused a problem for the aviation industry in the West and Central Africa region and also translated into a high cost of maintaining aircrafts in that region.

The former Governor said that he was impressed at the response of the Akwa Ibom State Government as contained in the report, remaking, " the report says that the government intend to create an enabling environment for the setting up of a world-class MRO facility that would attract maintenance of air planes from all over the world, especially Africa".

Obong Attah added, "The report also stated that the MRO would further be encouraged to start the manufacturing of Airplane parts, with the intent to go into  manufacturing for the long term given the examples of Ethiopia and Brazil. That was a very encouraging report".

He stressed that it was imperative to dispel rumours making the rounds in the media that the MRO project in Akwa Ibom was a failure, acknowledging that he, alongside members of his team had completed the assignment mandated on them by Governor Emmanuel to find out what could be done about the MRO facility and had compiled a comprehensive report on their findings.

According to him, "I can say that everybody has seen the strong need for a maintenance facility in this country and sub region but I would say this, there's a lot of scepticism about the seriousness. We have written a report that have brought out seven clear steps of what must be done to make it operational".

Highpoint of the visit was the presentation of the assessment report to the Governor, watched by the Secretary to the State  Government,  Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, the Chairman, Ibom Airport Authority and Director General of the Divine Mandate Organization, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga and some Commissioners in the state.


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