After months of expectation, the Bayelsa State Government-owned airport finally received the nod of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Saturday to commence commercial flight operations.
NCAA Director-general, Dr. Nuhu Musa, presented the regulatory body’s approval letter to an elated Governor Douye Diri at Government House, Yenagoa, after a NCAA team had completed the mandatory inspection of the airport and its facilities.
Musa said the airport met all airspace standards and was one hundred per cent ready for daytime flight operations.
The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the NCAA DG as saying the approval was sequel to the report of the agency’s inspection team, which prior to the visit had certified that out of 29 gaps, the airport was able to close 26. He noted that other requirements were non-safety related and work was already in progress to achieve night flight operations.
Musa said the agency had to limit flight operations to daytime, as the runway lights were still being installed, stating that once completed, full approval would be granted. He commended the state government for the quality of work done at the airport and the capable personnel from the state that facilitated the issuing of the licence.
Responding, Diri expressed appreciation to God for making the long-awaited day possible. He said issuing of the operational licence was a winding journey that began from the administration of his predecessor.
The governor commended his predecessor, Seriake Dickson, for his foresight in ensuring that the state had its own airport. Diri reiterated that Dickson started the project, which had been on the drawing board of past administrations, and saw to its completion before handing over to current administration.
He said his administration was determined to ensure the commencement of flight operations at the airport, which was why it set the machinery in motion for NCAA’s nod.
The governor stated, “This is a dream come true for our state and our people. I thank God Almighty because this journey had been a winding one, from my predecessor, and I have been in the saddle for over a year waiting for this licence. Today, God made it possible.
“I also thank my predecessor, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson. This airport had been on the drawing board but he took the bull by the horns by starting and virtually completed it. May I, on behalf of this government and the people of Bayelsa, appreciate him. As I came on board, having seen what he did, my administration had to cross the T’s and dot the I’s. Having been briefed on certain requirements, I wasted no time in approving what was necessary to ensure that the airport was ready for use. Today, we have the approval for the airport to commence commercial flight operations.”
Diri also expressed appreciation to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the NCAA DG, and officials for the approval and promised to do all within his powers to get full flight operations. He maintained that all the necessary facilities and equipment were in place and would be installed in no distant time, especially, the runway lighting system.
Emphasising the strategic importance of the airport, the governor stated, “Bayelsa State is a major contributor to the oil and gas business in Nigeria. Bayelsa is the centre not only of oil and gas but also other economic activities within the South-south and the South-east.
“So, the Bayelsa airport is critical not only to Bayelsans but, indeed, the people of the South-south, South-east, and by extension, the nearby countries. We are at the border with the Gulf of Guinea.”