BEING THE SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PASTOR UMO ENO, GOVERNOR, AKWA IBOM STATE, AT THE FORMAL DELIVERY OF THE FIRST OF THE TEN BRAND NEW AIRBUS- A-220-300 SERIES, AT VICTOR ATTAH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, UYO, DECEMBER 8, 2023.
1. We are gathered here today, to celebrate vision and a passion for professionalism and effective service delivery.
3. At that time, the airline, had two CRJ 900 Bombardier aircrafts in its fleet. Less than a year after it started operations, three additional CRJ 900 Bombardier aircrafts were added to its fleet, bringing it to five.
4. A year later, the airline further expanded its fleet with the addition of two brand new A220-300 Airbus series, the first of its kind in Nigerian aviation industry, bringing the total fleet to seven.
5. In the course of this period, Ibom Air became the toast of air travelers across Nigeria and a most preferred airline in the country, illuminating and defining the Nigerian airspace with the bright colors of our dear State.
6. At the Dubai Airshow in November 2021, the State Government, led by the visioner of this project and my worthy predecessor, the immediate past Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, CON, signed a contract for the purchase of ten brand new Airbus – A200-300 series. Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here to welcome to the fleet of Ibom Air, the first of those ten Airbuses we had ordered.
7. Let me use this opportunity to thank our past leaders for the various works they did, to move our dear state from its humble beginnings 36 years ago, at its creation to today, where we are easily ranked as a subnational with easily the best road network and other infrastructural amenities in the nation.
8. Let me particularly celebrate and thank my worthy predecessor for his vision in conceptualizing and breathing life into this pride of Akwa Ibom and pride of Nigeria in the aviation industry, Ibom Air. When this idea was first announced, the usual naysayers had dismissed it as a flash of wishful thinking. But as he always would say: The answer to doubters is success that shocks and confounds. Today, Ibom Air is the leading brand in the Nigerian aviation industry, a mere four years plus after it started commercial operations.
9. Let me at this time, salute the management and staff of this airline for the professionalism and great service delivery it has brought to bear in its operations.
10. Even though this airline is owned 100 percent by the State Government, we have allowed the management to run its operations as a purely private concern and the result, has been the spectacular and phenomenal growth it has recorded so far.
11. In under five years, Ibom Air has expanded its routes to major cities in Nigeria and recently started its commercial operations to Accra, Ghana. Plans are afoot to expand the routes into the East, Central and South African regions.
12. My administration is dedicated to supporting the giant strides the airline has made. We have kept faith with all previous financial obligations entered into, with Airbus, by the immediate past administration and the result of that, is the event we are witnessing today. Government is a continuum. 1st Corinthians chapter 3: 6, captures this critical element of continuity succinctly and I quote from King James Version “ I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase”. We, will in our way, provide the increase. Since we came on board, we have provided the funds for the training of pilots and the deepening of the already first- class Cabin services of the airline.
13. We have done extensive work on the Airside perimeter fencing of the airport, and the continuous funding of the 8.5 km Airside patrol road, which is now ready for commissioning. We have equally continued the funding of the parallel Taxiway Rapid Exit, the Apron Construction, International Terminal Building, the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul ( MRO) facility, the VIP Car Park, Access Road into the Terminal Building and the underground drain alongside the CCTV Control and Command Center.
14. Ibom Air was one of the first places I visited shortly after I was sworn in, and I had assured the management of the commitment of my administration to see to the expansion and growth of the airline. I have also, flown Ibom Air, as its Chief Marketing Officer, and what an exciting and pleasurable moment it was! To the Chief Executive Officer, our dear Captain Mfon Udom, please be kind enough to extend me an invitation to be a part of the inaugural flight on this beautiful aircraft. I will pay for myself and those to accompany me.
16. I want to commend and salute the Honorable Minister of Aviation, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, who had assured me, during my recent courtesy call on him, of his willingness to partner with us. I thank you, Sir for your kind assurances .
17. Let me again thank President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, for being a great father of the nation, and for engendering a spirit of bipartisan in our political engagements.
18. Let me also thank the Senate President, Distinguished Senator Godswill Akpabio , CON, for his support in moving our State forward. Let me also commend and salute the father of modern Akwa Ibom State, Arc (Obong)Victor Attah, whom this airport is appropriately named after, for being the one who started the construction of this airport and mooted the idea for the construction of the MRO. We certainly have been very blessed with great and visionary leaders! I am dedicated to expanding and enlarging, the great works these leaders had started, by the grace of God.
19. To the management and staff of Ibom Air, a great job done, means more work to be done. We have no doubt you will keep rising to the occasion and exceed expectations. Congratulations Ibom Air, congratulations Akwa Ibom State and congratulations Nigeria.! God bless us all