‘Concession of Lagos, Abuja airports long overdue’

The concession of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International, Abuja, by the Nigerian government is a good call, respondents to the latest Guardian Poll have said.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) last week okayed the planned concession of Lagos and Abuja airports with the belief that their privatisation would ensure better management of the airports.

The government owns 22 airports and it can no longer provide the sustained funding needed to operate them, aviation minister Hadi Sirika said on Wednesday.

79.9 percent of respondents to the poll conducted on the Guardian newspaper’s website, Twitter and Facebook pages said letting private entities take over the control of two busiest Nigerian airports was long overdue.

18 percent, however, feared the concession was only a ploy by the government to enrich its cronies. A paltry 2.3 percent noted that privatising the airports at a time the country was just exiting a long-drawn economic recession was ill-advised, especially since there is a possibility of job cuts. Some aviation workers share this sentiment.

Workers under the aegis of Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) earlier in the week protested against the plan.

Secretary-general of NUATE Olayinka Abioye said aviation workers were yet to be consulted. He said handing over Lagos and Abuja airports to private owners may lead to the death of less busy ones.

“The public must also know that the Federal Government is budgeting N600 million to advertise the airports overseas. But if you concession the cash cows, that is Lagos and Abuja airports, what about Ibadan and Akure airports? They will die automatically,” Abioye said.



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