Why the proposed airports concession may fail

It is well known fact that majority of the airports across Nigeria are performing below standard expected of a country dubbed as the giant of Africa.

Most of the structures adorning the airports will surely have a place waiting for them at the museum of antiquities anywhere because of their dilapidated state.

If the number one airport in the country, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport could still be parading the same structure built 37 years ago up till now, then the position of other airports is rather left unimagined.

Therefore,  those clamouring for concessioning/privatization/commercialization of the airports may not be too far from the absolute truth after all. Obviously,  as expected, there are many others opposed to the move with strong reasons which are also not too far from the truth.

The point is that as beautiful as the idea would have been judging from the success stories of such policies in other parts of the world, it has become very doubtful if Nigeria can successfully replicate this policy here.

Those belonging to the ‘doubting Thomasses’ club have  over one thousand and one reasons for waiving in their position towards this move.

It is has become a daily embarrassment to airport users including foreigners to see how most of the concession agreements once signed between private companies and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on behalf of government have defeated the original aim of transforming the airports.

It is on record today that there is no concession agreement hitherto entered into by the FAAN that does not have issues with different sides engaged in blame games.

Unfortunately, most of the controversial concessions which were duly conceived and signed by representatives from both sides are subsequently punctured after a period of time based on after thought flimsy excuses.

This singular act has continued to call for questioning the competency of the legal unit of FAAN which plays major role in the signing of these agreements for if  the department has been above aboard there would have been a better deal between the government agency and its concessionaires.

Presently, virtually all the major concessionaires of FAAN have one sad story or the other to tell about the frustration brought upon them by the actions/in actions of the FAAN legal officials.

One obvious thing is that all these unfortunate development have not only made a mockery of the government policy of Public Private Partnership (PPP), but capable of discouraging private inspectors who may feel their investments may not be well protected.

Amongst the bright concessions that have ‘k-leg’ presently are; Maevis Nigeria Limited/FAAN, Chief Harry Akande’s AIC Hotels Limited/FAAN and the Bi-Courtney/FAAN on the MMA 2/GAT deal to mention but a few.

It is on record that the investments of the concessionaires have been badly hit by the controversy and this has sent wrong signals to the other private investors within and outside Nigeria on the danger inherent in doing business with the government.

If only those representing government in FAAN and at the ministry of aviation and even other agencies during these deals showed more competency, perhaps it would have been a success story all through.

Again, it is sad that while all these controversial concessions have become legal issues, government has failed to step in.

It is therefore doubtful how the same government thinks the present proposed airports concession will succeed if all the lingering controversial ones are not amicably settled.

Presently, private investors are not happy with FAAN and government because of the treatment meted out to those whose business have been tied down.

The present government needs to act urgently to change this negative  perception or else the propose plans to commercialize the airports may end up creating more embarrassment for the country.