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FG rules out state governments from operating international airports

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Hadi Sirika

The Federal Government has foreclosed chances of State governments expressing interest in owning and operating any of the four international airports currently listed for concession.

The government said the target was qualified private sector and not sub-national governments.

The Federal Government has proposed 20 to 30 years concession tenure for four major airports already listed for transfer to private operators.

The prolonged concession plan will enable private investors to own, operate and recoup investments made in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano International airports.

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2016, approved the concession of the four major airports, in a move to have them run efficiently and profitably.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, at a project update session with stakeholders, said the concession exercise is open to all qualified entities with the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the facilities.

Sirika, who was responding to reactions from presentations, said the airports will not in the process dismiss staff.

He noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) statistics on Nigeria showed that the country is short of aviation personnel, hence, so many will be redeployed as the government has taken responsibility for other state-owned airports.

The minister argued that state governments will not be allowed to participate in the concession, adding that the FG was trying to remove the airports from the national government to private entities.

“We cannot go from one government to another government or to a lesser government, which is a sub-national. This will not happen but any private sector, any private entity with a proven record that is able to demonstrate, will be allowed to participate and the best will emerge,” Sirika said.

Reacting to the question on chances of the Organised Private Sector of Kano, Sirika assured that it was quite possible if the organisation had the technical and foundational capacity as well as the experience and expertise as will be proven during the process.

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“This process is for anyone that has the capacity, the technical capacity, the foundational capacity, the experience, the wherewithal and is interested to participate. So, whether you are in an organised private sector or a private entity, you are free to participate as long as you can prove within the process that you can give us value for our money.

“It is going to be transparently done, this is the beginning of the process and we are in the planning. Now, we are beginning the steps that would lead to the concession and it would be on our website, it would be on the website of ICRC, so they can begin to organise themselves now either as a group or as an entity to participate in the process and you’d be certainly allowed to do so,” he said.

Sirika added that the number of airports owned by the FG has increased, with the takeover of Gombe, Bauchi, Dutse, Kebbi, Osubi and “other airports and we give helping hands”.

“We need new people to manage the airport. That being the case, we will look at what is the staff strength and how to employ more people.”

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Hadi SirikaICAO
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