Stakeholders in the aviation industry has cautioned against the proliferation of airports by various state governments in Nigeria, as many of them are unproductive and commercially not viable.
Available record shows that there are about 31 airports in Nigeria at the moment, out of which 15 were built by state governments since 1999.These are Asaba, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa International Airport, Ogun Cargo Airport, MKO Abiola Airport Osun, Anambra Cargo Airport, Ekiti Cargo Airport(uncompleted). Others include Abia, Damaturu, Dutse, Lafia, Kebbi (uncompleted), Auchi (uncompleted), Zamafara, Nasarawa and Gombe respectively. Overall, nearly ₦301billion has been spent on airports in the last 15 years, in what aviation experts has described as “unproductive venture.”
Further checks revealed that those airports spread across the country, are underutilized, as many of them hardly record daily flights, while some do have chartered flights only on few occasions, thereby failing to meet the yearly passenger traffic requirements per airport.
Recently, the Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Captain Musa Nuhu, lamented about the huge burden placed on the agency by the proliferation of state airports. According to him, these airports do not generate money, as some do have only one or two flights a week, including executive flights. He posited: “Honestly, we must collectively find a way to deal with that because for me, even as NCAA, it is putting a lot of pressure on us.”
Also lending his voice, the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu decried the continuous construction of airports by various state governments, saying these constitutes a complex problem for the agency. He called for a collaboration between NCAA, FAAN and the Federal Ministry of Aviation to address the issue, as most of the airports are not commercially viable. In his view, “An airport that needs ₦300 million a month (to maintain) and they have just 1,000 passengers a month, there is no magic to that can make them sustainable and FAAN doesn’t have money.”
Investigations also show that most of these airports constructed by the state governments are often met with public outcry, as their sustainability poses a huge challenge, because their commercial viability is almost non-existent. They usually depend on a few viable airports for survival.
A breakdown of expenditures by various state governments in building some of these airports are as follows: Zamfara State spent an estimated ₦11 billion(uncompleted Cargo Airport project), Ebonyi State ₦36 billion, Ekiti State ₦16 billion, Anambra State ₦6 billion, Bayelsa State ₦70 billion, Osun State ₦69 billion, Ogun State ₦40 billion, Akwa Ibom State ₦25 billion, Jigawa State ₦4 billion, Kebbi State ₦14 billion, Nasarawa State ₦10 billion.
Aviation expert and chairman of Concerned Aviation Group, Mr. Barnabas Ezenwanne cautioned that state governments should stop building more airports and asked the federal government to place a ban on such projects, by not granting any further licenses.
In his view, Founder of Aviation Summit, Captain Dele Osanipin said that FAAN should stop funding those airports as it does not make economic sense.
Aviation guru, Group Captain John Ojikutu posited, “The problem is not with states that are building airports but with the Federal Government regulatory authority that approves the construction and comes to take over. That is another institutional corruption.”
From the foregoing, the consensus of opinion is that building more airports should never be seen as a prime project by governors, Moreso as the economy continues to struggle.