House C’ttee Opposes Airport Concession as FAAN Sacks Directors, Others

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Chinedu Eze

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation wednesday said it did not support the planned concession of airport facilities by the federal government and insisted that there would be a stakeholders’ meeting and public hearing before the decision to concession would be decided.

Just as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has finally carried out the planned purge of senior officials of the agency with the sack of about 21 directors, general managers, assistant general managers and deputy general managers.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Nkiru Onyejeocha, said government would have to explain why it has decided to concession the four international airports, which are the most profitable facilities that sustain the other 18 existing airports being managed by FAAN.

Onyejeocha who led 18 members of her committee on oversight tour of facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, also noted that while government has planned to concession the airports it has not explained what it intends to do with the workers that number over 4,000, adding that the planned public hearing would enable Nigerians to come out and decide whether the airports would be concessioned or not.

Onyejeocha said the House would have to get the input of industry players on the concession of airports, adding that her personal view was that concession might not be the best way to go by giving out airports that are yielding revenue to government.

“I am one person who doesn’t believe that we should concession the four major airports that we have because I know it is those four airports that are funding the other 18 airports and, of course, you have to look at the issue of workers and of course the Nigerian people as a whole. If we concession them and people are going to make money and be okay, why can’t we do it?
“Having said that, I also know that we are going to conduct public hearing where we would take all the issues together, where we would be able to ask Nigerians and of course the key players in aviation industry; the stakeholders including the workers, the press to tell us what you think. We would also look at the issues of the concession that has been done in the past,” she said.
At the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the committee members urged the regulatory authority to take urgent steps to ensure more domestic carriers do not collapse.

The House members said recent challenges affecting domestic carriers have attracted their attention urging the NCAA to step up efforts to ensure sustainability of the struggling carriers.
They also noted that while government is planning to concession the four major airports it was yet to explain what would happen to the subsisting agreement it had with Chinese government from where it borrowed $500 million to build five airports terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu, which hopefully would be competed early next year.

Meanwhile, FAAN has sacked over 21 senior officials who were engaged about four years ago and demoted others on what the agency referred to as “proper placement.”

Informed source from the agency disclosed to THISDAY that most of the directors, general managers, assistant general managers and deputy general managers employed under Senator Stella Oduah when she was the Minister of Aviation have been sacked.

“They said that the post of directorship is political appointment and when the minister that appoints them is removed the directors should go with him or her. Among those removed are three acting directors and three substantive directors. One acting director was demoted and two substantive directors were also demoted, but the Director of Human Resources was retained.
“Meanwhile, two directors were appointed and they have started work. They are director of finance and accounts and the director of commercial and business development,” the source told THISDAY.

The rumour to sack these officials started about five months ago, just as new graduates were employed by the agency few months ago.