ADDRESS AT DESTINATION AWARENESS SEMINAR

Date: 2008-08-07

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, DR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KWARA STATE AT THE DESTINATION AWARENESS SEMINAR ORGANISED BY NIGERIA CUSTOMS SERVICE AND SGS SCANNING NIGERIA LIMITED AT THE BANQUET HALL OF GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ILORIN, ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 7, 2008.

Courtesies,

I wish to begin this address by expressing gratitude to Almighty Allah for giving me the opportunity to host this seminar on the Destination Awareness, while still in power as the Governor of Kwara State. The reason is not far-fetched. When I took over the mantle of leadership of this State on 29th May, 2003, I initiated a litany of strategies not only for fighting poverty ravaging my people, but also grounding it to a permanent halt. One such strategy was the development of air transportation in Kwara State. least did it occur to me then that the fruition of that effort will manifest sooner than I had expected. Once again, I give praises to Allah, who has power over all things.

Having done this, let me recognize and appreciate the presence of the Honourable Minister of Finance, the Comptroller General of Customs, other distinguished guests and participants gathered here, and in this hall, today for this seminar. On behalf of Kwarans and the Government of Kwara State, I heartily welcome you all to the State of Harmony, Hospitality and Innovation. In the same vein, I thank most sincerely both the Nigeria Customs Service and the SGS Scanning Nigeria Limited, the joint organizers of this seminar, for choosing Ilorin for this epoch-making seminar, and during my tenure as the Governor of this promising State.

Maybe, I should inform this august gathering that our administration, at its inception, had recognized the essence of a functional airport in the State. First, as a viable panacea for improved trade logistics and enhanced capacity to connect international markets. Second, for improved competitiveness. Third, as a potent tool to fight poverty. Hinged on these, and baring all inhibiting factors and inherent difficulties, we started executing a number of projects to improve the status of the Airport and enhance its patronage. These include construction of the new Terminal Building, comprehensive renovation of all existing structures in the Airport, provision of aviation fuel depot, comprehensive renovation of the Nigerian Air Force structures in Ilorin and construction of the road to the Cargo Shed. These modest efforts informed the official opening of the Ilorin International Airport to regular passenger traffic in June, 2006. However, cargo operations could not take off immediately as the Airport had not been listed as a destination for imports into the country. Happily, in June, 2008, the Federal Government granted this request. Good enough, the construction of the new modern cargo terminal, built to the highest standards in quality, safety and security had been on before the Federal Government’s approval. Efforts are being multiplied to complete it for commissioning in a no distant date.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to give some enlightenment to all resident Kwarans, and prospective users of the Airport. First, the terminal would complement the excellent reception facilities available at the Airport and will operate a 24-hour service. Second, clearance of imports, through the Airport, would provide “a smooth ride”, as the ASYCUDA 3.0 software has already been installed at the Airport by the Nigeria Customs Service. Third, some agencies, like the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), are set to open offices in Ilorin to complement service delivery at the Airport. Fourth, the status of Ilorin will be enhanced by becoming one of the best connected cities in the West African sub-region in the world.

Permit me, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, to specially welcome the designated risk management and scanner service provider, the SGS Scanning Nigeria Limited. I am aware the company will bring on board a new service where importers or licensed customs agents could track the status of their risk assessment report on-line, from the comfort of their offices. I am also aware of the effort of the company at putting in place a system by which Risk Assessment Reports (RARs) are transmitted electronically to importers, with importers based outside Lagos having the advantage of receiving a copy of the RAR and complete their Single Goods Declaration (SGD) forms promptly and on schedule. I must appreciate that these processes would reduce appreciably the delays occasioned in dispatching RARs through the authorized banks, with headquarters in Lagos or elsewhere outside Ilorin.

I am conscious of the fact that this one-day seminar holds a lot in stock for us in this State. I am, therefore, confident that the resource persons on different topics would do justice to their topics and avail the participants of the opportunities of enhanced knowledge in this strategic field. Thus, I call on all resource persons to expose the participants more to the rudiments of Airport management and development in the specialized area. It is my hope that the participants too will draw maximum benefits from this rare gesture.

The Honourable Minister, other distinguished guests, I cannot end this address without appreciating the Federal Government and all its relevant agencies for the ready assistance which has immensely helped to crystallize my administration’s concept of the Ilorin International Airport as a world-class specialist cargo airport. Let me, however, seize this opportunity to make some demands on the Federal Government for an enhanced service delivery at the Ilorin Airport. There is the urgent need to expand the runway, improve power supply, enhance security network, provide an expanded and functional Air force base and upgrade it to address the security needs of the Airport and other logistics, to facilitate the functionality of all infrastructures at the Airport. I am positive that these requests would receive the prompt attention of the Federal Government in due course.

Let me, no behalf of all Kwarans, assure the Federal Government that all operations at the Airport will continue to enjoy the peace, harmony and hospitality for which the State is renowned and revered. Kwarans recognize and commend the passion and drive already exhibited by the management of the Nigeria Customs Service and service providers like the SGS, FAAN and other stakeholders too numerous for mention here. Let me therefore say that the Government of Kwara State is agily poised to further create a serene and conducive environment for all stakeholders, if only to make the Airport the Nigeria’s first port of entry to achieve the 48-hour cargo clearance target.

While wishing our august visitors safe return to their various destinations, I thank you all for your presence and attention.

Au revoir and God bless.

 


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