By Henry Umoru
The Senate Tuesday urged the Federal Government to through the Ministry of Aviation and other relevant authorities, upgrade the Ibadan domestic airport, Alakia to the status of an international airport with modern facilities.
This was sequel to a motion titled, ” the need to Upgrade the Ibadan Airport to International Airport with modern facilities, sponsored by Senator Kola Balogun, All Progressives Congress, APC Oyo South and co-sponsored by 37 other lawmakers during plenary.
Presenting the motion, Senator Balogun said that it has become important to upgrade the airport “because of the potential of Ibadan to attract economic development both locally and internationally, due to the presence of institutions like the University of Ibadan, University College Hospital, International Okerete Market, Bola Ige International Business Complex, etc.”
According to him, the presence of an international airport in Ibadan would complement the activities of the Ibadan inland dry port and accelerate the derivation of the expected socio-economic benefits from the inland dry port.
He further explained that such an Airport would enhance efficient and effective movement of goods and people from Nigeria and across the world and reduce excess pressure on the road and infrastructures within Oyo and adjourning states, and thus save lives.
Senator Balogun noted that the proximity of Ibadan airport to the Murtala Mohammed International, Ikeja, which is about 145km would make investment easier for already established investors in Lagos to expand their businesses and companies, and as such add to the nation’s gross domestic product, GDP.
According to him, “the total land area acquired for the Ibadan airport is about 557.1 hectares currently, hence when fully utilized can conveniently accommodate a standard international airport.”
Balogun also maintained that an Ibadan international airport would propel tourism and provide a communication link “which is vital between different groups of people involved within the region.”
The Senator added that it would attract foreign investment to the region, economic development to both Oyo State and other neighbouring states in the South West, and improve the quality of life of the people and ultimately increase the gross domestic product, GDP of the country.
In his contribution, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, PDP Osun East, informed that the Ibadan airport, established in the early 80s was yet to be upgraded after several years, noting that doing so would attract more foreign investments not only to Ibadan but the country as a whole.
He said: “Ibadan, with a population of about six million people and the status of headquarters of the South West region, is supposed to have an international airport. It is the only major city among the geo-political zones that lacks an international airport.
“If the airport is upgraded, it will attract more foreign investments and the benefits would not only be to Ibadan or South West but the country in general.”
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan after putting the resolutions into voice votes, referred them to the Committee on Aviation for further legislative work and report back within eight weeks.