Concession: FG must not hand over 17 airports to cronies, HURIWA warns

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) on Saturday, warned the Federal Government not to hand over 17 of the nation’s airports to cronies under the guise of phantom concession.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, feared that the outgoing Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, might want to give out the airports to incompetent families and friends as parting gift as his tenure as a cabinet member ends in less than 11 months.

The group warned that such approach to concession of the nation’s airports won’t be tolerated and therefore challenged the minister to make the process as transparent and fair so that competent concessionaires would take over the nation’s airports since the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has demonstrated failure in all aspect of governance including the maintenance of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

The minister had during the week said at least 17 airports under the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria that are currently not up for concession are going to be given to concessionaires.

The concession process for Nigeria’s four international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano is currently ongoing while FAAN manages 21 airports on behalf of the Federal Government.

But HURIWA’s Onwubiko warned the minister, FAAN, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and the National Policy on Public-Private Partnership as well as all those involved in the concession process to be guided by the principles of justice and transparency.

Onwubiko said, “The move to concession the country’s 17 airports yet to be concession is testament to the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has failed in the management and maintenance of Nigeria’s critical assets which he met on ground when he came into office in May 2015.

“Sadly, seven years later, the President and his appointees including the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, have moved to hand over Nigeria’s assets to private individuals.

“Whilst HURIWA reckon that the gains of concession if done rightly are undeniable, we call for the integrity of the process which is highly questionable going by the notoriety of this government’s knack for massive corruption and theft of public fund with many top officials accused of fraud.

“Electricity distribution companies that were privatised were sold to cronies of government officials and today Nigeria’s power supply system is the worst globally.

“HURIWA fears that these airports may be sold to cronies of this government and there is no way of knowing because there are no opportunities for credible civil society organisations to understudy those companies that may bid for concession of these national assets. The aviation industry must stop being opaque and the poor transparency records must be corrected.”

Emmanuel Onwubiko
June 18, 2022

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