The Federal Government says its decision to concession all airports in the country is irreversible. Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, while briefing State House reporters yesterday after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the government could no longer fund the 22 airports across the nation.
The government recently announced the concessioning of the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt international airports. Sirika revealed yesterday that Buhari approved the concessioning of all Nigerian airports two months after assuming office.
The minister said the government resolved at that time that concessioning was the only way to upgrade and develop airport facilities
“At a time the concessioning of some government assets started, we were not knowledgeable in what concession entails but today we have the knowledge and it will be transparently done with the active participation of workers in both the delivery and the steering committees to drive this process.
“What is more, come this Friday a portal will be put up by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), where all matters of concession will be available for anyone to see. It is an extra effort by this government to be so transparent in dealing with this type of situation. So when it is transparently done, labor issues will be addressed within the process, you will agree with me is the best way to go.
“Just to illustrate, Murtala Mohammed airport was built to cater for 200,000 people per annum but today it is doing eight million. The toilets and lifts in the airport were meant to serve 200,000 people per annum but now serving eight million per annum. There is no single addition on that airport and we are growing as a people. At the time it was built we were 60 million people today we are 173 million. And we cannot continue to let the airport be like that and we do not have the money to invest and develop this airport.
“In our opinion as a government and the policy has been done that it will go through concession, to give to some individuals who will build, operate, maintain, sustain, make money and government will also make money in the process and return to government after a number of years between 20 to 25 years. This will be transparently done, this is the catch phrase, so we are proceeding.