Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka said he disagrees with the concession approach taken by both the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) insisting that they want to take the best part of FAAN and give it to private investors who may not have the wherewithal to handle it.
Chidoka who spoke during a virtual stakeholder’s meeting to update on the concession of the four international airports likened what is happening now to what transpired in the power sector where the discos now do not have the funding to even meter the customers and is constantly blaming government.
He offered his thoughts harping on state-capitalism as an answer instead by clustering airports into zones, making it a company and selling 51% to a concessionaire to run the airports instead of handing over money spinners to a private sector that may not have enough to run these terminals.
He said,” I want to speak as a Transport expert that is what I studied and gave been doing and I want to speak as a Nigerian a before I start talking about partisan politics. Number one issue is that I fundamentally disagree with the ICRC and the BPE on the approach of the concession and my fundamental disagreement is that the federal government has no business in some of these activities like management of terminal buildings, but it is what it is, we have those responsibilities, and the FG has been discharging it.
“Therefore my approach is that the first thing I think we should have done is corporatize that is turn these terminals in blocks of terminals, Lagos Zone into a company owned only by FAAN and make FAAN a regulator that FAAN would be the regulatory agency of the terminal buildings which will be part of their responsibility and the responsibility of the aeronautical side of it would be handled by a department in FAAN while FAAN serves as a regulator of airports.
“So if we take the Lagos airport zone and take the airports in Akure and the Airports in Ibadan and rope it together and make it a company then we can sell 51%of that to a concessionaire to come and run the airports and let the Nigerian state, either the state governments that ran the airports before they took it over, the airport workers or unions have shares so that if the airports are successful tomorrow we can sell our shares in the stock market without having to go back to any concessionaire.
He argued,” Now the reason why I said this is imagine what it would have been if the FG granted MTN a 51% stake in a concession to do mobile telephones, our 49% equity in MTN today would have been worth the price in gold so I believe in state-capitalism, I think the minister have been sold to BPE, they want to take the best in FAAN and give it to the private sector.
He continued, “The problem of Africa is lack of private capital, if you take these airports just as you did the discos and give it to private companies just like you did the disco companies, the 80 per cent given to the private sector they have not been able to afford metering to buy meters they don’t have the wherewithal to meter customers and they keep blaming government for shifting the goalpost.
He advised the current Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika to always seek counsel of his predecessors is there are a lot of experience there to go round and he can draw from their wealth of experience.