By Emeka Anaeto, Business Editor

At the backdrop of the on-going bid by some foreign interests to take-over the management of the Nigeria’s international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, Nigerian groups are poised to ensure that relevant government’s economic policies for local content and domestication of public assets weighs heavily in the concession of the nation’s key aviation assets.

As Kano Chamber of Commerce position for the Kano airport, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, BASL, managers of Murtala Mohammed Airport, MM2, are making case to take over Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

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The Nigerian entities are pushing the case for the country to secure its assets and economy in the hands of domestic rather than foreign interests, especially where the domestic organizations have the capacity and meet the set requirements.

The Vice President of Kano Chamber of Commerce, Ambassador Usman Darma, said they have the financial viability and capability to take over all the four international airports and they are fully ready to pay if given the mandate.

Reacting to the issues around the jostle for the airports, Luqman Balogun, Group Executive Director, Resort International Limited, consultants to BASL, told Vanguard that Nigerian entities should have the right of first refusal if such entity meets the set requirements, adding that such is in line with global best practices as well as current policies of the government on local content.

In this connection he stated that besides meeting the requirements, Bi-Courtney has already demonstrated its competence and capacity to manage the airport after it raised Nigeria’s domestic airport infrastructure to international standard with the MM2 project it designed and completed in 2007.

He also added that for 14 years now Bi-Courtney has been managing the airport which shares boundary with the international wing it is now bidding to manage, without any major operational issue. The MM2, he said, has remained the best in Nigeria and one of the bests in Africa till date.

He stated: “In the concession document, the requirements is that any company that wants to bid must show evidence of having asset of a minimum of N30 billion. We have demonstrated that in our balance sheet that we have the capacity. “We also got letters from two banks saying that they are ready to support us financially if we are given the opportunity to run the airport.

“So our company should be used  as a barometer for measuring how concession should be done and how it is going to be regulated. We have done it when nobody knew about concession.

“We have exhibited competence. We have shown that we are not just doing this for profit motive alone. It is  also a national pride that we are managing an airport in Nigeria and it is doing very well.

“There are quite a number of international airports that are ready to provide technical support services that we can engage if we so choose to, but then the pride is the Nigerian company managing its own affairs well.

“There has never been any security lapse. So all those structure required to manage airport we have established over the years. We have perfected it and it is what is reflected.

“You should compare us with FAAN. FAAN has more years of experience. They have been doing this for over 50 years and they are   managing 22 airports in Nigeria, but we all see their performance compared to MM2, the one that  we are managing.

“If we are given an opportunity to manage the international airport, it will be a beginning of a new dawn for passengers using the international airport.”

…also raised concern over allowing foreign interests manage the strategic assets that has to do with security as well as financial outflows from the economy, a situation which he said negates existing government policy.

He stated:    In 2018, the President signed Executive Order No. 5 promoting made in Nigeria companies and professionals. Under the Order, it is required that anytime government is looking at any procurement at all in terms of technical, concession and what have you, Nigeria companies must be given the first right of refusal.”

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.