Previous airport concessions shrouded in secrecy, under-dealings—Minister
The Minister of State, Aviation, Mr. Hadi Abubakar Sirika has maintained that all previous concessions of federal airports were veiled with high level exclusion of real stakeholders, secrecy and under-dealings.
He made particular reference to Lagos Airport but dodged to call the name of the concessionaire in his submissions at the public hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation.
Defending why it is necessary for the current government to re-concession four mega international airport terminals including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja, he said the plot is “targeted at the provision of adequate world class infrastructure for an estimated 60 million passengers in the next 10 years”.
According to him, “over N1 trillion would be required to overhaul the airports and upgrade them to international standards, for which the funds are not currently available, hence the need to move them to capable private investors”.
He cited the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as having predicted that air traffic in Africa would quadruple in the next 10 years.
However, he did not say that the quoted bodies said no government of any country can manage an airport that has grown to over 60 million passenger traffic record to back up his claims.
But he was quick to argue that “Nigeria as a matter of urgency, has to boost the capacity of its airports which currently handle 15 million passengers, else the nation’s economy would be circumvented”.
It wpould be recalled that the committee, headed by Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Abia PDP), had organised the hearing to meet with stakeholders on the need to save the aviation industry from imminent collapse.
The minister assured that the processes of concession would be transparent, and would be a departure from previous processes which he said were characterised by secrecy, under-dealings and exclusion of stakeholders.
It would be recalled that the terminal 2 of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos was concessioned to Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited.
Sirika said “When these things are not done transparently, you end up in court and in litigation. Yes, we thank him, but is this what Lagos, with its 23 million people, deserves? No! We want something more elaborate that can service the 60 million passengers”.
“I am not interested, neither is my boss at the villa,” Sirika said, adding that the ministry intends to borrow from, and build on the manner of concession of the nation’s seaports.
While maintaining that the government plans to concession 100 per cent of its 21 airports eventually, even though only four are up for concession in the first phase, he revealed that “What we plan to do in the Abuja airport for example is to put a brand new runway and a brand new terminal opposite the current one”.
By his timetable, the concession deals are expected to be completed in 24-48 months with 30 million passenger capacity.
Before the call for public hearing, the House of Representative had been against the idea of the federal government to concession airports based on the fact that all most every concessioned enterprise of the federal government in the past has never done well after.
In her remarks after the Minister’s presentation, Onyejeocha, harped on the need to restore confidence in aviation industry.
“We cannot be doing the same things over and over again and expect different results. The sector must not collapse nor be allowed to stay under developed under our watch”.