Mrs. Kema Chikwe
By Chinedu Eze
A former minister of aviation, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, has urged the Federal Government to commercialise airport facilities after the ongoing remodelling exercise so that the private sector would take charge of their maintenance, improvement and expansion.
Chikwe, who was a minister under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration, said commercialising airport facilities would boost the revenue and enhance the sector's contribution to the country’s GDP.
Chikwe who spoke at the weekend commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his commitment to improve the aviation industry by deploying funds for the upgrade of airport facilities.
She said Nigerian airports had suffered protracted infrastructural decay for years and needed such turnaround, adding that when she was the minister of aviation there were so many competing needs as the country had just ushered in democratic governance and every sector was in dire need of attention after much neglect during military administrations.
Chikwe also commended the present Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, describing her as determined and hardworking, adding: "Honestly, she has done well. She has worked very hard and has shown dedication to duty.”
Chikwe who was former Nigerian ambassador to Ireland said the next progress move for the industry is to bring in the private sector to further develop the aviation sector so that government would deploy the funds it spends on the industry on other essential services.
She said it was the level of deterioration of airports infrastructure that prompted government to take the revolutionary step of total overhaul of the facilities and improvement of security in the airspace, adding that President Jonathan wanted to carry out urgent intervention in order to salvage the industry.
“I know that the deterioration of airport infrastructure prompted government to embark on total overhaul of the facilities and I really thank the President, because it takes a President and his vision and reform agenda to get to this," she said.
She remarked that adopting such policy would be in tandem with what obtains in other parts of the world where airport facilities are managed by the private sector.
“I will like to see more private sector activities at the airports; professionalised activities. For instance, some of the terminal buildings in other parts of the world are commercialised so they recover their money. So government will save money for social services in the country.”
in the markets.