Acting Governor of Taraba State, Alhaji Garba Umar has disclosed that the state government has purchased two aircrafts to be put into commercial use when the Jalingo Airport becomes fully operational.
Umar made this known recently while fielding questions from journalists, who were led by the Director-General of the Governor Jonah Jang faction of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu, on a media assessment of some ongoing projects in Taraba State.
He said: “We have been able to procure two aircrafts: Embryo 145; each of them is a fifty star aircraft and we are trying to put them to commercial use when the airport becomes fully operational. The challenge now is that the airport currently has a 2.4 kilometer runway and the aircrafts we have acquired are jets that would require 3.5 kilometer runway.
“As you must have seen we have started extending the runway to make it 3.5 kilometer; meanwhile we are making arrangement with the operators of Overland Aircraft in Bauchi and hopefully by April they will start operating from Jalingo and this, of course, will increase our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR)”.
On the tourism potentials of the state, particularly on the Mambilla Plateau, the acting governor stated that during the just ended Economic Summit, the federal government approved the project for the Mambilla Hydro power project which is expected to generate 10,000 megawatts as part of efforts to boost the tourism potentials of the area.
“For now the project is expected to generate 3,500 megawatts of electricity. You can see that even in Nigeria today we don’t have up to 3,500 megawatts but the Mambilla Hydro Power project will generate that. It is a package that will include a Five Star Hotel on the Mambilla Plateau and an International Airport as well as the road leading to the Pleateau.
“I wrote to Mr. President requesting him to allow me to do the road before the other projects come on stream. I got his approval and as I speak with you the road project has advanced to about 40 percent and I believe within the next one year, all these projects would be completed and Taraba will launch itself properly on the Nigeria tourism map which would in turn attract tourists not only from Nigeria but the world over”, Umar said.
Speaking on medical tourism potentials of the state, Umar said during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he had a chat with the Saudi German Hospital and they assured that once the project is on stream on the Mambilla Plateau, they will cite a 200-bed capacity hospital in the area.
“Therefore when this health facility is cited on the Mambilla Plateau the issue of Nigerians going to Saudi for medication would be a thing of the past”, he said.
On efforts at tackling security challenges the acting governor said: “We have been preaching peace through dialogue which involves Emirs and Chiefs. As a matter of fact through the Taraba Peace Initiative, we have been reaching out to all the stakeholders on the need to embrace peace by tolerating one another respective of ethnic or religious backgrounds Therefore our emphasis has always been on preaching the message of peace to the ethnic communities in our state as well as all relevant stakeholders and our efforts have yielded peaceful results as we are now enjoying peace in the State”.