In the light of the gross lack of lustre in the entire packaging of the proposed airport concession, and the lack of interest by investors which informed the extension of the closure for the bid by another four weeks, the entire process has been adjudged lacking in transparency and common sense.
_The Chief Press Secretary to the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Dr Reuben Abati, gave the verdict in one of his regular treatises online
While concluding his opinion in the said piece he said that, “what Nigeria’s Airport Concession Strategy needs is a re-think, a re-set, transparency and a heavy dose of common sense, the lack of which has so far hobbled Minister Sirika’s plans”, Abati stated.
Abati reasoned that “extending the deadline for the submission of bids for the concession of the four airports (Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, NAIA, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, MAKIA, and the Port Harcourt International Airport, PHIA,) under reference may not change anything. The Federal Government must review its strategy and be seen to be prepared to act in good faith”, he volunteered
He suggested that government must be seen in all ramifications of governance that it holds dearly elements of equal level playing field for every interested stakeholder in the private sector.
Reuben Abati added that the government must be seen to respect the judgements of the Supreme Court especially in the matter between it and Bi-Courtney and demonstrate respect for the sanctity of contracts and agreements.
He claimed to have understood why foreign investors of substance are not attracted to the airport concession business because the goal post could be shifted anytime in the course of the game. He asked rhetorically, “who wants to do business in a country and a sector where no one respects agreements and things can change overnight?”
Dr Abati who currently anchors popular interview program on Arise Television, exercised fears that “the current Airports Concession Strategy is about to end up like that other big project under Hadi Sirika’s watch as Nigeria’s Aviation Minister: that is, the proposed launch of a national carrier called Nigeria Air”.
He recapped in a mournful note thus, “the national carrier was unveiled in 2018 at the Fanborough International Airshow in England. The National Assembly approved money for it. We were told aircraft had been ordered. Minister Sirika continued for a while to tell us that the national carrier would be airborne before 2023”.
Abati treatise went further to remind his readers that it was the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who had to painfully announce that the project was not getting off the ground, and had to be suspended, due to “investor apathy.”
He however cautiously noted in his piece that, “we seem to be travelling the same route with the concession plan involving the aforementioned four airports. Sirika must be worried that he is fast becoming the promoter of big ideas that die and end up as a waste of state resources and everyone’s energy and time. As someone who has had significant experience in the aviation sector, he should know better, and can do better, but we have not yet seen any concrete evidence of his “expertise and experience.”
Albeit, patriotic stakeholders fervently wish the sad and less eventful narrative that bedeviled the aviation ministry changes for the better and the industry regains its sparkle