The Federal Government on Saturday assured aviation stakeholders that it would ensure transparency in the planned concession of airports and creation of a new national carrier for the country.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, gave the assurance at the Second Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the government had indicated interest to concession airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt in order to increase their capacity and efficiency.
Mr. Sirika disclosed that transaction advisers that would be saddled with coordinating both projects would be announced by the government within the next two weeks.
He reaffirmed that concession was not tantamount to privatisation or outright sale, explaining that the facilities involved in the exercise remained the property of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“Public-Private-Partnership and concession in the airports have never been done in a structured and transparent manner.
“The contracts are not properly prepared, no risk analysis and no financial models. Consequently, it is not surprising that they ended in litigation.
“I want to assure stakeholders that we will be transparent and the concession is in the best interest of the country,” he said.
According to Mr. Sirika, Nigeria with a population of 180 million people has the capacity to become an aviation hub with implementation of right policies and investment on airports infrastructure and navigational aids.
“Nigeria is growing and the facility is not adequate so the airports must be improved upon.
“The Federal Ministry of Transport remains committed to making air transportation the preferred and safest means of transportation, creating a self-sustaining business model and driving socio-economic growth in Nigeria,” he said.
He added that the government was committed to protecting the jobs of Nigerians in the aviation sector, adding that the era of airlines giving preferences to expatriates would soon be over.
“We will ensure that Nigerians are given priority in getting jobs in the aviation sector.
“We will give adequate time for the airlines to prepare themselves but for sure, we will ensure that it happens soonest,” Mr. Sirika added.
He said that the industry was facing challenges such as scarcity of foreign exchange and aviation fuel and that the government had been working assiduously to tackle them.
He also disclosed that the government intended to strengthen security at the airport and that approval had been given to the ministry to properly train and arm aviation security personnel.