By Chinelo Obogo
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that even though the Federal Government has no money to maintain its international airports, there are no plans to sell them.
Speaking during a zoom call on airport concession on Tuesday, Sirika said that the government only plans to concession for a period of time, after which it would revert back to the Federal Government because according to him, there are no plans to put the assets of the country into the hands of private investors.
He said the airports are not performing optimally and are not being operated to its full capacity, hence the need to concession only the terminals of the international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
He also assured that the labour unions would be carried along and that before any agreement is signed between the FG and the concessionaire, there would be structures in place to ensure that no worker in the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) loses their jobs.
“Our airports are sub optimal and they are not being operated to the capacity that can attain and government has no money to continue to invest in these airports. They are competing against health care, education, security, etc. That is why we want investors to come and invest so we can make more money and they would employ more people.
“The population growth is being affected so the airports are overstretched. We had 60 million people when Lagos airport was built, so our infrastructure must meet up with that number. We had 8 million passengers before but now, we are doing 19 million. Nigeria is a good candidate for investment but the government would not hand over assets to the private sector, after some time, it would come back to the government. Let the private sector bring in their money, manage it and after a while we take back out assets.
“Hajj camp and cargo terminal building will be part of the concession. Our runways and critical security infrastructure will not be concessioned, only about 14 percent of FAAN workforce are engaged in terminal buildings where we are concessioning for now. All labour issues will be discussed and agreed upon before concession. We would do it without a single job loss. It
“The process is for everyone that is interested in participating as long as you can prove that you have the capacity, you will be allowed to participate in the process. No state government would be allowed to participate because we cannot give it to one government to another. It would not happen.
The labour union is in order to show concern that all of their rights and privileges would be protected. They won’t lose their jobs because by the finding of ICAO, we are understaffed and we need people in Gombe, Bauchi, Dutse, Kebbi, Osubi and many more airports to manage it. Once the concessionaire comes, he will take over everyone for two years and if the concessionaire doesn’t want to, you would be reassigned,” Sirika said.