The South African chapter of the pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, has called on the Federal Government to approve more international flights for the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu as a means to boost the economy of the South-East region.
The founder of the group, Chief Jonas Udeji, made the call in a statement issued on the celebration of the New Yam Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, a copy of which was made to available to the Nigerian Tribune on Monday.
According to him, the need for more international flights to and from the airport became essential given the volume of business transactions in the region and the entrepreneurial skills of its people.
“I appeal to the Federal Government to approve more international flights for the airport, especially from South Africa, because of the entrepreneurial skills of the people.
“Majority of the people are in business and it will be more convenient to have direct flights to Enugu. It is always a burden to land at the Lagos or Abuja airports before connecting to Enugu.
“Ohaneze Ndigbo in South Africa is happy with the commencement of cargo flight to the airport by Ethiopia Airways and we want more of such flights to the airport”, he said.
Udeji said the celebration of the New Yam was significant because it would afford the people opportunity to reflect on their present status, achievements and plan their future.
Also speaking in the vein, a South African-based university don, Professor Edwin Ijeoma, said the recent commencement of cargo flight by Ethiopian Airways to Enugu was a step in the right direction.
This was as he said the airport deserved more international flights, adding that such a move would boost commerce and business in the south-eastern part of the country.
Ijeoma, a Professor of Policy and Public Sector Economics, University of Fort Hare, South Africa, said, “I think it is a good development and it will be better for that to continue to happen because we have good number of passengers from eastern part of the country that do business in South Africa.
“ It will encourage tourism, good businesses and good international relations between Nigeria and South Africa”, adding that if South Africa Airways commences flights to Enugu, it would make their people (South Africans) appreciate Nigerian hinterland.
“I say this because people are used to stopping at Lagos and Abuja, but I think this move will make them appreciate our people and their culture”, he added.
As contained in the statement, the president of the Nigeria Union in South Africa, (NUSA), Mr Ikechukwu Anyene, praised the group for exhibiting Nigerian culture with the celebration of the New Yam Festival.
“People are happy with Ohaneze for projecting rich Nigerian culture in South Africa and I call on other groups to also use same opportunity to showcase our culture”, he said.