A former Director of Engineering Services with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engineer Mohammed Sadiq has said the nation’s airports are capable of operating without capital from government while contributing to government coffers.
According to him, FAAN generates N33billion annually and can contribute 25 percent of this to the Federal government and also stated that the on-going construction of new terminal buildings in the international airports can easily be paid for by FAAN since it is at a very low interest rate of 2% and payable over 22 years.
Sadiq said,” it is this economic viability of our airports system that the economic terrorists are targeting by advocating privatisation of the only viable international airports to the detriment of the overall development of the other airports and by extension the development of the country.” Comparing with data from the US, Sadiq noted that the busiest airport in the world, Hartfield-Jackson international airport in the Atlanta Georgia had an annual turnover of $$24b. This is equivalent to about N7.2trillion; that is more than the N6trillion Naira budget of Nigeria,”he posited. On the advantages of Government ownership and management of airports, Sadiq listed safety and security of the entire nation, infrastructural development, national development, financial contribution to the Treasury Single Account (TSA), loss of experienced personnel, and amazement at the level of greed and principle of greatest good for the greatest number of people.
On safety and security he said, “All airports are considered as boarders of the host country. So they are security posts. The entire security of the nation can be compromised if the Airports are in private hands. Setting up a Government security apparatus to oversee the security cannot solve the problems because the Private Airport Operator can create avenues to circumvent security in the transportation of arms and ammunitions, drugs, fake currency and other dangerous goods.
The Government will then need the cooperation of the Operator of the Airport to securely manage the whole airport infra-structure.”