By Benjamin Alade
A Nigerian pilot, Captain Ademilola Odujinrin, who made history becoming the first African pilot to fly solo around the world, has said Nigeria has capacity to create two airports in each state of the federation but lack drive to push for it.
This he said would create thousands of jobs, connectivity and broaden the scope of doing business in the country.According to him, for Nigeria to compete globally, our mind-set needs to change. “We have to believe in ourselves that we can do it. There is nothing stopping Nigeria from having two airports in each state.”
Addressing media upon his return to Lagos recently, he revealed that the journey spanned 25 countries across five continents and lasted nine months.He explained that although the actual duration of the journey was 300 hours (six weeks), the journey was elongated by weather, technical, financial, logistics and clearances of getting into different countries serves as a challenge.
“If Nigeria has two airports in a state, it creates jobs, connectivity among other opportunities. It doesn’t have to be massive airports, it could be aeroplane that takes up to 36 planes,” he said.
Odujinrin, who works for Air Djibouti, completed the final leg of his historic journey on Wednesday, March 29, 2017, landing safely at Washington Dulles International Airport, United States, where the journey began in September 2016.
The pilot completed the entire circumnavigation in a Cirrus SR22, stopping in more than 15 countries on five continents, returning to Washington DC. The flight is part of Project Transcend, a foundation, which aims to inspire young people to achieve their goals, regardless of their personal circumstances.
Odujinrin said: “Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of one-day flying around the world. We have a responsibility to lead by example and follow our dreams. I want African children to think: ‘I can do this too!” Odujinrin has logged over 4,000 hours as a commercial Boeing 737 pilot since earning his pilot licence six years ago.
He charged government and institutions across Africa to provide enabling environment for such initiatives to thrive.He said: “I embarked on the tedious journey to encourage Nigerian and African youths at large to inspire a can-do spirit that will help them pursue their dream and never give up.”
He also has the lofty hopes to reshape the perception of Nigeria through great achievements that defy expectation and to redefine the African narrative.Speaking on his survival, he revealed, “I lived on water and energy bars just to avoid food as I didn’t have access to toilets.”
In his goodwill message relayed by video chat, Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi commended the determination exhibited by the young adventurer.”I hope Nigerian youths can draw inspiration from his laudable achievement. I am happy that although a lot of people around the world know Nigeria for negative news, this is something positive that Nigeria can be celebrated,” he added.