PH, Lagos Airports: Shame Of A Nation

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For the umpteenth time in the past couple of weeks, Nigeria has been in the news for the wrong reasons. First was the global survey that rated Nigerian Police as the worst police outfit in the world and lately the report declaring Nigeria’s two major international airports as among the 20 worst airports in the world.
Specifically, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Port Harcourt were listed as the fifth and third worst airports respectively by a renowned global aviation agency, Sleep in Airport (sleepinairports).
According to the aviation body, the criteria used in arriving at its conclusion include corruption among officials of the airports, poor navigational equipment, insecurity, unclean environment, horrible luggage handling, lack of functional air conditioners, make-shift structures (tents) and lack of conveniences.
Others are gate seating and availability of rest zones, food options, poor immigration services, sleepability and customer service, among others.
The aviation group further stated that in the 2017 survey, respondents, mostly air travellers and tourists, indicated that aggressive corruption was the hallmark and biggest challenges facing air travellers, with airport officials and staff demanding bribe for virtually every service rendered.
The Tide is, however, not surprised about the poor categorisation of the two airports judging by the sordid and pathetic state of virtually all the nation’s airports, especially Lagos and Port Harcourt airports.
Indeed, the state of these airports is not only worrisome but unacceptable. It is, to say the least, a shame of a nation that prides itself as the giant of Africa.
To say that the airports located in two strategic Nigerian cities – Lagos, which is the economic capital of the country and Port Harcourt (the nation’s hydro-carbon headquarters) failed integrity test by aviation experts amply points to poverty of leadership by the APC-led Federal Government, especially in the Transportation ministry.
It further shows that the yearly budgetary allocations to the aviation sector in the last two years of the Buhari administration have little or no positive bearing on the nation’s airports. No thanks to corruption!
It is particularly sad that Nigeria, with its abundant natural and human resources, is ranked alongside war-ravaged South Sudan, and crisis-ridden Ethiopia, Greece, Romania, Uzbekistan and Greece, while Ghana, South Africa and other African countries with less resources than Nigeria pass the competence test of the global aviation body.
The Tide considers it unthinkable and inexcusable that Nigeria’s airports remain in very sorry and pathetic state despite huge revenue inflow from the oil and gas sector, whereas countries without much resources float and maintain world class airports.
The Federal Government must, therefore, strive to leverage on the economic and political importance of Lagos and Port Harcourt by injecting adequate funds to upgrade the two airports considered as the most viable airports in the country.
We recall that Professor Yemi Osibanjo, during his working tour of Rivers State as the Acting President, directed the contractor handling the rehabilitation project of the Port Harcourt Airport to expedite action on it and indeed gave a timeline for its completion. Sadly, that presidential directive has been carried out in the breach. Till date, virtually nothing is done in this direction.
Is it that the contractor was not adequately mobilised to do the job, or that somebody somewhere may have short-changed the system for personal consideration?
While calling on the Aviation authorities to provide answers to these puzzles, we hope that the poor ratings of Lagos and Port Harcourt airports would serve as a wake-up call to the relevant authorities to make not just the two airports but all the nation’s airports a world class.
The Federal Government should save the country and its citizens further embarrassment from these damning and negative reports of poor leadership and incompetence by doing the right thing at the right time.