By: IfeanyiChukwu Afuba
Only one event in the history of Anambra State compares with the spectacle of the test flight at Anambra Cargo Airport, Umueri on Friday, April 30, 2021.
This was the arrival at Enugu Airport of the Nigeria Airways flight bearing Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu home after thirteen years of exile on June 8, 1982.
The sea of heads stretching along the 5.7 kilometre runway of the glittering airport at Umueri reminded of the packed crowd that forced ‘Ojukwu’s plane’ to circle for nearly thirty minutes before landing. But with the more expansive Umueri Airport delivered by the APGA – Obiano government, two aeroplanes can even land simultaneously.
The two events were also defined by surge of emotions; a sense of fulfillment and thanksgiving to God.
For many at the international cargo airport on Friday – who were setting eyes on the aerodrome for the first time – it was tears of joy. The sheer scale of the complex was matched only by the classy finishing stamped on the facilities.
It was tears of joy for a dream finally come true. The waiting had taken thirty – five years! Anambra’s best military Governor, Group Captain Samson Omerua conceived the project in 1986 and it had taken Anambra’s best civilian Governor to actualise it – on a much bigger scale without borrowing a kobo.
Just two years ago, the prospects seemed bleak. The country had moved from oil recession to Covid 19 recession leaving national and state economies struggling to keep afloat. Some partisan groups could not wait to mock the venture. But they reckoned without the human will and great leadership. Mindful of his mission, Governor Willie Obiano applied himself to the gruelling task and the result was the aviation phase of Anambra’s journey launched on Friday, April 30, 2021.
You could not witness the grand complex and not be filled with fascination. The 11 storey tower, a radiant landmark, is enriched with artificial intelligence. The standard terminal building is a sight to behold. Equipped with CAT – 3 lighting and satellite systems, the airport will be able to take night flights on full operation.
For the business – oriented Anambra society, the power of aviation cannot be overstated. And for a people whose only access to the outside world during the civil war were the Uli and Uga airstrips, the benefits of global links need no telling.
You could therefore imagine the excitement of the crowd as Airpeace’s Embraer 145 hovered into view at 2.25pm. The metallic bird touched down smoothly to the applause, ululation and dancing of the crowd.
It was a moment of pride; a date with history kept.
Governor Willie Obiano will be remembered as Anambra’s legacies Governor. He had delivered on the NYSC Orientation Camp, Court of Appeal, Awka division and the first oxygen plant in the southeast. And he’s poised to sign off with the breath – taking International Conference Centre, Awka.