Akwa Ibom state yesterday marked its 22 anniversary of its creation with an inaugural flight by Arik Airline Boeing 737 plane to the newly constructed Ibom International Airport located in Okop-edi, Okobo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Before 1pm, a large crowd had gathered at the airport to witness the historic event. The State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, his wife, Unoma, state executive council members, former governors of the state including the immediate past governor, Obong Victor Attah, Chief Don Etiebet and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were among dignitaries that witnessed the arrival of the plane.
National and state Houses Assembly members, traditional rulers, politicians from other political parties, captains of industries and other invited guests within and outside the state, were also on ground to witness the landing of the aircraft which had on board Aviation Minister, Mr Babatunde Omotoba.
The landing was dramatic as the pilot flew round the airport twice before landing on the tarmac at about 2. 12 pm, while the plane taxied to a halt in front of the state governor and other dignitaries. Security operatives had a hectic time controlling the crowd that besieged the airport some of who took photographs of the plane. Expatriate workers at the airport and officials of Arik airline were also not left out of the celebration.
In a brief speech at the airport, Akpabio said the Arik aircraft was a brand new Boeing 737 in the Nigerian airspace for the first time and made its first flight to the new Akwa Ibom International Airport.
After a brief ceremony and a prayer session, the governor, minister of aviation and other dignitaries embarked on a facility tour of the airport.
One of the highlights of yesterday’s event, which coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the creation of the state, was the coming together of Akpabio, Attah and Etiebet who embraced themselves after a prolonged faceoff over their political differences.