By Louis Ibah
Key stakeholders in Nigeria’s aviation industry have called on the Federal Government to adopt a cluster model in its airport concessioning plan as the idea of offloading only the vibrant airports would be counter productive.
The decision by the government to single out the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano international airports for concessioning has drawn a lot of criticisms, particularly from airport workers, labour unions in the aviation industry and some analysts. These critics fault the government’s move as to sell off the only lucrative airports to their cronies. According to them, it is the less lucreative ones that need funds to boost their infrastructure and attract airlines and passengers.
The stakeholders, under the aegis of the Aviation Round Table (ART), in a position paper made available to Daily Sun expressed caution in the success of the government’s concession programme.
However, the ART recommended cluster concession model where the smaller airports are attached to major airports through which the concessioning could be phased to align with national interest, priority and objectives. In the paper signed by its President, Mr. Gabriel Olowo: “We are cautiously optimistic that the policy thrust designed to raise the level of services at our airports is in line with global best practices that will be of pride to all Nigerians and we also advise that the security management of the concessioned airports be retained by the Federal Government and factored into the national security architecture.
“With the clustering concession model, if adopted and the management of airport security still in government hands, FAAN can transmute in name, functions and responsibility”.
Mindful of controversies that dogged the path of similar exercises in the recent past, coupled with the need for transparency and the adoption of credible legislative instruments, the ART implored government to ensure transparency, accountability and fairness to all prospective investors, stakeholders and other participants.
“The government could demonstrate its transparency by making it accessible to interested members of the public, the report of consultants it engaged with public funds on the airport/national carrier projects,” the ART said.