By Victor Graham
The Bayelsa State Government says baring any unforeseen circumstances, the State International Airport will be licensed to commence full commercial operations by the relevant federal aviation regulatory authorities before the end of this month.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, disclosed this at the weekend, during a meeting with the management and staff of the Airport together with its host communities at the Government House, Yenagoa.
According to Senator Ewhrudjakpo, the state is expecting a visit from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on the 23rd of this month, which might culminate in the certification of commercial flight operations in the Airport.
The state number two man, in a statement from his media aide, Mr Doubra Atasi, called on all stakeholders to make last ditch efforts towards getting the Federal Government’s operational licence.
Highlighting the importance of the airport, he appealed to the host communities to be patient, assuring that the present administration was poised to addressing their concerns according to extant best practices in the aviation industry.
Making reference to how airports within and outside the country have transformed the economy of their operating environments, the Deputy Governor urged all the stakeholders to have a bigger picture as expected benefits from the airport were beyond immediate financial gains.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, therefore, cautioned them to employ dialogue as a means of resolving any pending issues, stressing that protests and disruption of activities around the airport will only delay its licencing.
“This is no time for protest. It is rather, a time for more cooperation and hard work for us to achieve what we need to get our airport operate fully. If government is still owing you any money as balance for compensation, that should not make you to demonstrate.
“We are appealing to you because by the time the airport starts operating, you all know the benefits you will all get as workers, landlords and host communities. Government will look into your demands and take appropriate steps to address them.
“We must look at and focus on the bigger picture because sometimes if you don’t focus on the bigger picture, you continue to cry because of the immediate sparrow.
“The tears in your eyes will deprive you from seeing the stars. The stars are always there, but (most times), it is because of the tears in our eyes that make us not to see the stars.”
“However, the good news is that, officials of the NCAA are coming on the 23rd and by the grace of God when they come on that day, and before they leave on the 25th, we are expecting that they will kindly give us our licence.”
In their remarks, some members of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Ebiuwou-Koku Obiyai, Mr. Wisdom Fafi, Mr. Oforji Oboku and Mr. Felix Bonny-Ayah, all appealed to the landlords to be patient with government as regards the issues of compensation and employment.
Also speaking, the Commissioners for Information, Environment as well as Budget and Economic Planning, urged the host communities to endeavour to make necessary sacrifices to attract development through the airport and its ancillary services.
Speaking on behalf of the landlords, the Amananaowei of Amassoma, Chief Graham Naingba, Spokesman of the Airport Landlords Forum, Mr Yenigha Ebimode, amongst others assured the state government of their cooperation to enable the airport begin full operations.