From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
At exactly 3.45 pm, United Nigeria Airlines made history as its flight touched down at the Bayelsa State Airport, Amassoma to commence full scale commercial operations in the state.
The state government had in June end its search for a partner for the Bayelsa State Airport as it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nigeria Airlines to commence commercial flights like every other Airports in the country.
On today’s inaugural flight which took off from the Muritala Mohammed Airport at exactly 3pm had on board Governor Douye Diri, the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Mr Obiora Okonkwo, Tokyo Olympic Silver medallist, Blessing Oborodudu, Dr Godknows Boladei Igali, King Alfred Diete- Spiff. Others on the flight are members of the Bayelsa State caucus in the national assembly namely, Israel Sunny- Goli(Nembe/ Brass Federal constituency) Fredrick Agbedi(Sagbama/ Ekeremor Federal Constituency), Fred Obuah(Ogbia Federal constituency), Preye Influence Oseke(Southhern Ijaw Federal constituency), Steve Aziaki(Yenagoa/ Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal constituency) and Moses Cleopas, senator representing Bayelsa Central.
Akso on the flight was the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Abraham Ngobere who led members of the House.
A delighted Diri while addressing the mammoth crowd at the airport commended Okonkwo for believing in Bayelsa to allow United Nigeria Airlines begin commercial operations in Bayelsa.
Diri who disclosed that full commercial flight would commence in two weeks based on bookings made noted that commencement of commercial flights by United Nigeria Airlines signalled economic development of the state by bringing Bayelsa to the world and the world to Bayelsa.
His words: “This significant event is the culmination of the aspirations that was birthed by late Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of the state, which was eventually built by Senator Seriake Dickson, my predecessor. And it is under my administration that this project was crystallised. This is a demonstration that team work truly works.
“I am happy to report to you that the pilot of the United Nigeria Airline said our runway is one of the best in Nigeria. It is our determination to make Bayelsa truly the Glory of All Lands and we are making Bayelsa a construction site.”
He continued: “The timing of this direct commercial flight services into Yenagoa could not be more fortuitous. The Prosperity government has made overtures to several businesses and development partners across diverse locations and the easy of flying to and from Yenagoa will give a further lift to trade and tourism and accelerate the momentum towards making Bayelsa the investment destination of yours”, Governor Diri stated.
“I had the pleasure of taking this historic maiden commercial flight from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos today and it is without question a very agreeable and expedient way to travel to Bayelsa State.
“I am delighted to congratulate all Bayelsans on the inaugural direct passenger flights to the Bayelsa International Airport. ”
“I am confident that there is huge potential for growing the economy of our State and diversifying from our reliance on Federal allocation. The fact that this airport provides an export free zone will be an additional incentive to investors.
I wish United Nigeria every success with its new service to and from the Yenagoa International Airport.”