Friday, September 24, 2021

2019 politicking may hinder airports concession, national carrier – Expert

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Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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A travel and tourism expert, Ikechi Uko, on Wednesday said the Nigerian Government’s plans for concessioning airports and establishing a new national carrier may be hindered because of the 2019 politicking.

Mr Uko, the promoter of the Akwaaba African Travel and Tour Market, made this known in an interview with newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday.

NAN reports that the government recently appointed Infrata, Dentons, Rebel, WSP Parsons Brinkckerhoff and Proserve as the five Transaction Advisers for the handling of the concession of the Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports.

It also appointed UK-based Airline Management Group, Aviation International and Tianerro FZE as Transaction Advisers for the establishment of a new national carrier like the defunct Nigerian Airways.

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Mr Uko noted that the appointment of transaction advisers for the projects showed that the government was committed to improving the aviation sector.

He, however, expressed concern over the timing, due to the forthcoming 2019 general elections in the country.

Mr Uko said: “My fear is the timing. Elections in Nigeria normally consume other activities. You can see that from what happened in Lagos State last week.

“A lot of things get misinterpreted when elections are very near. Sometimes, they are intentionally misrepresented because of politics.

“In about four months’ time, we will go into full politicking and they may not be well supervised by the minister who is a politician himself.

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“My fear is that these projects will become trapped in the electioneering but aside that, it is a good thing.’’

He flayed those opposing the concession, stressing that they had failed to provide alternatives toward improving airport facilities and infrastructure across the country.

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Mr Uko said: “The people who are against concession, what is the option they are offering? I am impressed with what I have seen in Ghana.

“The airport authority took a loan guaranteed by the government to build the airport and it was executed on time.

“So, the Ghana Airports Authority was able to do this and gave the country a modern airport. If that was the option we wanted to use in Nigeria, are we capable of doing that?

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“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, has to show that it has the capacity to play at that level.

“And from what I have seen, we are not capable of replicating that yet in Nigeria because of various issues.”

He said the issues included policy reversals, change of government and management, lack of continuity, as well as problems currently being encountered due to previous concession agreements.


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