By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
Anambra State government yesterday paid tribute to the late Chief Victor Ikwuemesi, founder of Sosoliso Airlines who died in London on Tuesday from COVID 19 pandemic.
In an emotion-laden statement by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr Don Adinuba, the state government described Ikwuemesi as a foremost chartered accountant and entrepreneur, who came into national limelight in 2000 when he set up the Sosoliso Airlines Ltd to run scheduled domestic passenger services.
The statement read: “Chief Ikwuemesi was not just a great son of Anambra State, but also a worthy Nigerian. His sole purpose for establishing the carrier was to change the sociopolitical landscape of a key component of the Nigerian federation which was unfortunately being schemed out of national affairs.
“The two airports in the Southeast by 1999 when democratic rule was restored, were no longer in use. People travelling from the Southeast to any other part of the country had to go by road, with all the incalculable costs and risks.
“Rather than throw up his hands in the air in despair and lament about marginalization, as many of his people are wont to do, Chief Ikwuemesi decided to take the bull by the horn by establishing an airline to reopen the Enugu and Owerri airports.
“It is instructive enough that Enugu became the headquarters. It is to his credit and foresight that the two airports have remained open ever since.
“Sosoliso Airlines was flying into Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, apart from Enugu and Owerri and it commanded tremendous customer loyalty.
“However, on December 10, 2005, its Flight 1145, which took off from Abuja with mostly students of Loyola Jesuit College who were going home on holidays crashed at Port Harcourt International Airport. Only one person survived.
“The airline did not recover from the crash. It is regrettable that the authorities at the time did not address themselves to the core issues raised by the Sosoliso accident. They rather engaged in shadowboxing.
“Major things for which Chief Ikwuemesi will be remembered for long are humility, high savings rate which accelerates business growth, integrity, loyalty and trust in business; commitment to the common good; and the practice of Think Home philosophy, which this administration has been espousing with evangelical favour.”