By Sade Williams
Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has assured Nigerians that their interest would not be jeopardised in the resolve to concession some of the nation’s airports.
He disabused the minds of sceptics of the federal government resolve to concession Nigerian Airports, saying it was borne out of its desire for effective and efficient management of the airports and adequate utilization of the abundant skilled manpower in the Aviation sector.
Sirika reiterated this when the Management of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission led by its Director-General, Aminu Diko visited his office to present the ‘Commission’s Framework for Addressing the Development of Public, Private Partnership Projects in Aviation Sector’.
According to Sirika, ‘’the best way to go is the Public Private, Partnership and so, we are going that way’’ Concessioning of the airports, he said will make the system go faster as what will take the sector a long time to do, owing to the paucity of funds in government, will be made easier by the partnerships to be entered into.
The Minister also said that in the wisdom of the Government, development of other airports across the nation will be promoted for the purposes of cargo.
This, he said is necessary so that the big airports will not be congested and further said the Government was thinking to build a standard international airport in Lagos and convert the present Murtala Muhammed International Airport to a domestic one.
In a statement signed by James Odaudu, director of press and public affairs, Ministry of Aviation, Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Aminu Diko, earlier in his presentation quoted President Buhari as saying that ‘’Nigeria is now in a situation where it obviously has to diversify its economy.
“We also have a huge infrastructure deficit for which we require foreign capital and expertise to supplement whatever resources we can marshal at home. In essence, we seek public private partnership in our quest for enhanced capital expertise’’.
Diko said, amongst others,that the aviation sector faces the challenge of inadequate airport infrastructure due to lack of investment over many years, poor maintenance of the existing airport infrastructure, obsolete plant and equipment across the aviation, absence of clear policy and methodology for determining tariffs, overlaps in functions of departments and agencies of the federal government.
He added that there is need for public private partnership because the government is cash trapped, government has realised that airports can pay for themselves while adding value to the people, success model of ‘creative’ airport solutions which abound in the world (PPPs, various examples of concessions and outright privatization) some examples are: Madina Airport expansion in Saudi Arabia, Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan, Enfidha Airport, Tunisia among others.
The Director General also listed some advantages of modern airports which can be realised in Nigeria through concession to include highly attractive investment asset class with fairly predictable cash flow and relative long term stability with right conditions, delivery of high level services and optimal infrastructure financing, exploitation of full airport potentials
He appreciated the minister for the opportunity of this presentation and said that the minister was the most fit for the position he presently occupies because of his experience in the sector.