Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Plans may be under wraps by Nigerian government to put two of the nation’s prime international airports – Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos – in the hands of private managers. The administrative term for such deals is refereed to as “concession”.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo opened-up on government’s plan to concession both airports in Abuja, at the fifth Presidential Quarterly Business Forum, Monday, September 11, 2017. Quarterly, Nigerian government uses the forum to discuss issues aimed at improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

The gathering enables government interacts with organized private sector, and gets far-reaching collective views from the sector on government business activities to improve the economy.


Key reason Osinbajo gave for concessioning the airports is for “better management”. His words: “We are working hard to make the airports more passenger friendly, but then we have several issues. Infrastructure is in a terrible state and we know that public sector has a poor record on maintenance of facilities”.

Osinbajo said the airports lacked basic facilities, and existing ones were dilapidated and needed overhaul. To grow the economy, he said government needed to involve the private sector in many ways. His words: “Partnership with the private sector is not only a policy, it is the most sensible thing to do and our approach is to engage, work collaboratively to take criticisms and suggestions seriously and to respond”.


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gave no further details about concessioning the airports. To teaming business visitors and tourists to Nigeria, the current picture painted about both airports by the vice president may not represent the true position of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

Under former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the government – for safety, security and efficient airports operations, embarked on remodeling and upgrading airports and facilities in the country. A holistic airport remodeling projects initiated by his government was part of aviation roadmap the government launched.

Phase one involved reconstruction of airports in Abuja, Benin, Calabar, Enugu, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Yola, and were expected to be completed in first quarter of 2013. The General Aviation Terminal, GAT, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, known today as Domestic Terminal 1, was remodeled and commissioned by Jonathan’s government. Same for Abuja International Airport.


Both airports, today, are beauty to behold and have class of distinction — a complete departure from Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos; and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, of the past.

For years, before Goodluck Jonathan’s airports remodeling and upgrading, Nigerians and other users of most of the country’s airport have not hidden their disappointment on the state of airports in the country. Structures and facilities at the airports were obsolete. Terminals were shabby and overcrowded with malfunctioning air conditioners, conveyor belts and toilets.

Several facelifts given to the airports in the past did not stand the test of time, even when huge sums of money were involved in such renovations. They soon collapsed. This is not the description of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, presently.


Government’s position, according to Vice President Osinbajo, for concessioning the airports for “better management”, make the “airports more passenger friendly” and “infrastructure in a terrible state” is at variance with what is on ground at the airports. And it does not appear, President Buhari’s government had added any further improvement to what Goodluck Jonathan’s administration airport remodeling and reconstruction had done at these airports.

Generally, infrastructure in the country is in a terrible state, and Nigerians know that public sector in the country has poor record on maintenance of facilities.

In this circumstance, rather than concession two of Nigeria’s prime international airports – Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Buhari’s government should consider the establishment of “AIRPORT MANAGEMENT COMPANY” – for “better management” of the airports — in place of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.