International and local companies, as well as politicians in Nigeria, have started lobbying the Federal Government in a bid to take over the management of the country’s airports that are up for concession.
It was learnt that many companies had already started making presentations to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, and his team, despite the agitations and several protests by workers in the sector against the move to concession the airports.
In September, the Federal Government kick-started the concession process for the nation’s major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, with the inauguration of two committees- a Project Steering Committee, and a Project Delivery Committee.
Sources at the presidency and the Federal Ministry of Transportation told our correspondent that different international companies, as well as local firms owned by top politicians, had indicated interest in managing some of the airports.
It was learnt that one of the front runners among international firms contending to manage the airports includes a firm from Istanbul, Turkey.
A senior government official who has knowledge about the development, said “One of the companies that have indicated interest in the listed airports is TAV Havalimaniari Holding AS, based in Istanbul, Turkey. They have followed up with a presentation to the Minister of State, Aviation.”
The official, who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, also stated that the government had yet to decide which of the companies would get the concession right for any of the facilities, adding that “this is because more companies are still showing interest and presentations are still ongoing.”
The official added, “You are aware that the minister just returned from the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) programme in Montreal (Canada) and while he was away, activities pertaining to the exercise (airport concession) were slowed down a bit.
“Now that he is back, we believe things will pick up in earnest and very soon we will get to know the winners and I can assure you that they will be people who will manage the airports adequately.”
Sirika, who chairs the Project Steering Committee in charge of the concession exercise, had earlier stated that the committee would provide the general direction and steer the course of public-private partnership project of concessions in the aviation sector.
He reiterated that the driving force behind the Federal Government’s resolve to concession the airports was the over-riding national interest in ensuring the establishment and sustenance of world class standards in both infrastructural development and service delivery.
According to him, the misgivings by some people and protesters concerning the exercise were borne out of misconception that concession was synonymous with privatisation.
He, however, explained that the airports being put up for concession remained the properties of the Federal Government and that more jobs would be generated at the end of the agreement.