…as airlines into Benin airport rise from one to nine in 7years

The friendly business atmosphere created by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration in Edo State in the last seven years has continued to yield dividends, with investors across sectors choosing the state as their preferred investment destination.

Several sectors of the Edo economy have felt the impact, from health to environment, infrastructure, power, oil and gas, sports, education, agriculture, technology, aviation, amongst others.

In the aviation sector, this business-friendly environment has resulted in a quantum increase in the number of commercial airlines flying into the Benin City airport from one in 2016 to nine currently, with two airlines, United Nigeria Airlines and NG Eagle Airlines, launching into the Edo State capital last week.

Speaking to journalists in Benin City after receiving the new airlines, Obaseki said that businesses are coming into Edo State because the government has created the right environment and atmosphere for businesses to thrive.

“There is security, infrastructure and the market in the state and people in the transportation sector, particularly aviation, have come to realise that because of what we have done in the last seven years, there are opportunities in Edo State; they have no choice than to come, invest in a safe environment and make profit,” Obaseki said.

As a result, the governor said, the number of commercial airlines flying into Benin City has risen from one in 2016 to nine currently.

“When I came in 2016, there was only one commercial airline and flight into Benin City. Today, we have nine airlines flying into the state with the inclusion of United Nigeria Airlines and NG Eagle Airlines, two additional airlines which started operations on the 12th and 13th of December 2023. In seven years we have been able to attract eight new entrants into the aviation market place,” Obaseki said.

The governor said this remarkable success has been made possible because of his government’s openness and collaboration with the aviation authority.

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“I recall my meeting with the former Minister for Aviation and our conversation at that time was that, as a state, we are ready to collaborate with the Federal Government to increase the traffic flow to Edo State, Benin City. Benin City is one of the most strategically located cities in the country, being a gateway and access point between the East, West, South-South and the North,” the governor said.

Listing some of the measures that led to the success, Obaseki said, “We supported Benin City to ensure it’s an air hub. We supported the Federal Government, we improved the security of the airport building control tower, security post, lit the airport through capital contributions to improve the lighting system to extend the flying hours to night to enable planes fly at night.

“We did much more to ensure Benin airport attracts the requisite equipment to ensure flight comes into Benin City. We also worked to remove the categorisation of the airport from a sunset airport and extend the operating hours to ensure more aircraft come to operate in Benin City.”

The governor said these efforts have moved the Benin airport from number 8 in the country in terms of traffic to number 4.

He said his administration has also made giant strides in the area of security, making Edo the most secured state in the South-South of Nigeria.

“In the last one year in particular, the incidence of kidnapping, armed robbery has reduced drastically. Every month we issue security report and the data is there to work with. Last week, we had a security summit where we unveiled some of the planned policies and actions taken,” Obaseki said.

“We have perhaps the most comprehensive command and control centre in terms of security in Nigeria. We have surveillance cameras across this city that brings in images into the centre. We have deployed and use very effectively and efficiently the vigilante network in Edo State. As I speak, we are training in the Police College members of our local vigilante network and have trained more than 5,000 to date and our goal is to train 15,000. These have been very effective in curbing criminal activities in the state.

“We are also lighting up the streets at night and have executed almost 100km in Benin City, extending same to other parts of the state like Ekpoma, Auchi and others. Edo is very safe for investment,” he said.