By Louis Iba
PROSPECTIVE investors seeking to bid for four of Nigeria’s international airports slated for privatisation may wait a little longer as the Federal Government says it would only place them on public offer after completing their rehabilitation by the end of 2016.
Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this at a seminar organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Abuja, said the government had already earmarked some amount of money for the rehabilitation of the airports before their concession.
“The consideration of the government is to schedule Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports for concessions after their rehabilitation,” said Ahmed.
“The intention is to bring the nation’s aviation industry at par with its counterparts anywhere in the world but we can’t do this alone. So, we want to invite IATA and other critical organisations around the world to be part of the growth in the Nigerian aviation industry,” she added.
She said the government could no longer continue to fund infrastructure in some of the critical sectors like aviation and that it was necessary to handover the running of airports to competent and capable hands.
The airports to be concessioned by the government are the Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA, Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja; Aminu Kano Airport, Kano; and Port Harcourt Airport, in Rivers State.
Already, the Federal Government has earmarked the sum of N1.06 billion for the rehabilitation the Abuja airport alone in the 2016 budget released about two weeks ago.
The sum was part of the N202.43 billion allocation for transportation industry in 2016 budget, which also included the rail and maritime industry.
The Federal Government in its breakdown of spending for the sector in 2016, said that airside rehabilitation of Abuja Airport became necessary to upgrade the facilities to global standards, adding that this would also enable the airport, which is the second busiest in Nigeria in terms of passenger traffic after the Lagos Airport to compete favourably with its counterparts anywhere in the world.
The government also noted that the airside’s rehabilitation was a project designed to improve the security of the nation’s airports and airspace.
Ahmed explained that the Aviation Master Plan and Roadmap was to unlock the airports for better performances, stressing that the sector had been under-capitalised over the years.