Recently, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika at a function announced the plan by the Federal Government to take over some state-owned airports and hand them over to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The affected airports include the ones at Kebbi, Dutse, Bauchi and Gombe while the Minister also hinted at plans to privatize some others.
His words: “Nigeria actually has 43 airports, some of which are airstrips where flights take off and land. Among these 43 airports, some are federal airports, some are state-owned and others are privately owned.”
Obviously, the reasons for the planned handing over of the airports to FAAN must have been a failure on the parts of the state governments to utilize the airports for the original plans given for building them and their lack of patronage.
It is no longer news that many of the state-owned airports were built for the sake of political gains on the parts of the governors who originated the ideas.
The reason many of them often give while venturing into the business of airport construction has always been their wanting to open up their states to other parts of the world for business and seamless air travels for their citizens.
Even when experts in the business of airport management advise them to invest the huge funds the building of airports will gulp into other areas that will be more beneficial to their citizens they are always adamant.
ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
At times people wonder the importance of building an airport for citizens who are wallowing in abject poverty and lack immediate essential needs like good roads, a standard agricultural sector, good health facilities and adequate education and many others.
At the end of the day, many of the governors have been accused of embarking on such projects just to embezzle public funds and still leave the generality of the citizens in precarious situations.
Against all odds pointing to why such projects should not be on the priority lists of the states, the governors would always ignore the calls against such moves and embark on the ventures.
Among many questions on the lips of many Nigerians are: how many of the citizens on whose behalf they claim they are building an airport can afford to travel by air; how many flights and aircraft operate in such airports and in what way has a moribund airport that cannot record up to 10 flights in a year open up such states?
Some of these governors out of political gains are always bent on cajoling their citizens on why they want to embark on such projects even when airports already exist in the next state to them.
The question is why can’t two neighbouring states cooperate to strengthen the existing airports around them rather than littering everywhere with airports they will only abandon after finding out that they can not manage them.
It is on record how such state-owned airports have been taken over by weeds and miscreants who hibernate there after the airports must have failed to achieve their goals.
Unknown to many of the governors, managing or building an airport is beyond just erecting a gigantic edifice as many other requirements are entailed which makes the business a very capital-intensive venture and a no-go area for any state in view of the numerous needs of the citizens.
It is, therefore, sad that many of these state governments after embarking on wasteful ventures are seeing running up and down begging FAAN to take over the airports as if they consulted the organization before building them.
Presently, there are over 43 airports across the country with FAAN directly running more than half of the number with the little resources it has.
Running these airports is not an easy thing in view of the fact that the majority of the airports depend on not more than four or five viable ones with the majority merely occupying space.
It is therefore painful that FAAN which already has more than enough to handle is being dragged into taking over additional responsibility even when many of the airports under it are lacking in so many critical needs.
There is, therefore, an urgent need for the government particularly its aviation regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and FAAN to discourage these state governments from building mushroom airports with public funds which will end up becoming liabilities to FAAN.
The need to caution the states becomes pertinent as many others who are yet to have airports are still making efforts to embark on the suicide mission which will end up becoming a beast of burden to FAAN.