Oyo State Airport Upgrade: A Boost to Economic Development

“I suspect that the airport will be the true city of the 21st century. The great airports are already the suburbs of an invisible world capital, a virtual metropolis…” J.G. Ballard 

The quote above is from J.G. Ballard in the article ‘Airports: The True Cities of the 21st Century’ published in the September 1997 edition of the Blueprint magazine. The piece speaks to the massive commercial benefits and development potentials that a strategically positioned, well equiped and managed airport brings to the table, ceteris paribus.

Governor Seyi Makinde recently announced that the pacesetter state has received presidential approval to upgrade the current local airport in Ibadan to International status. Suffice to say that contrary to the fake news being portrayed in the media space, Oyo State will not be building a new airport, but rather upgrading the existing one to international standards at definitely a lower cost when compared to building a new one from scratch. The upgrade includes expanding the existing runway and installing basic flight control and landing equipment for bigger aircraft.

Built in 1983, the Ibadan airport (recently renamed Samuel Ladoke Akintola Airport) was, prior to 2019, a ghost of itself with outdated equipment and lack of basic facilities which greatly limited its potential. 

However, since Governor Seyi Makinde (GSM) took office, the airport has seen significant improvements, including constructing a dual carriage access road, re-modelling and furnishing of the VIP lounge as well as the recent plan to upgrade it to international standards. This has attracted Nigerian Air Force to build one of its largest bases in Nigeria, connected to the airport via a 10-15 minute drive. The base will host a flight training college, secondary school, military hospital, and more.

The upgraded airport, aside providing direct international travel opportunities from within the capital city, will also provide a viable landing opportunity for aircraft that may require diversion to nearby airports from the very busy Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, thereby helping to reduce congestion at the Lagos Airport. Additionally, the airport’s proximity and centrality in the south west puts it at a vantage position to attract traffic from the surrounding states.

With a huge portion of farm produce from this region of the country being exported weekly, the upgraded airport is poised to become a major hub for cargo exports.

The success of the GSM administration in attracting new airlines, including Air Peace and Green Nigeria, has demonstrated the potential for growth in the last 4 years. The upgraded airport will also provide hangar services to private jets and host VIPs. It goes without saying that commercial activities around the airport will receive a major boost as well.

The airport upgrade is part of a larger development plan, including the construction of an industrial estate around the Rashidi Ladoja GRA on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which is expected to host numerous companies, including multinationals. This is in view of the fact that Shell Nigeria Gas has also partnered with Oyo State to build a gas distribution network, supplying industries and manufacturers with natural gas, which strategically straddles the Pressure Reduction & Metering Station (PRMS) along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and right beside the Rashidi Ladoja GRA. 

Worthy of note also is the ongoing construction of the 110km iconic circular road, which is expected to host a mega industrial zone. 

The upgraded airport and surrounding developments are set to boost economic activities in Ibadan, making Oyo State a hub for economic growth and development. It is pertinent to encourage all and sundry that we join hands with this result-oriented and development-focused government as we work towards achieving the Oyo State of our dreams.

God bless Oyo State,

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Oladayo Ogunbowale is Special Assistant on Communications to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.

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