The Ignorance of Borrowing From China to Develop Airport Terminals – The Greatest Mistake of Transformation Agenda
Permit me to define the word, ‘ignorance’. Ignorant as adjective which means lack of education or knowledge. However, for the purpose of this write up, the definition of ignorance means unaware, uninformed, refusal to pay attention and disregard. Ignoring a problem, issue or weakness will not eliminate its existence. That is why in Law, it is stated that ignorance of the Law is no excuse.
Throughout history we can find countless examples of leaders in every aspect of society making what is perhaps a leader’s greatest mistake – ignorance.
In 1977, Nigeria Airways had over 25 aircrafts plying European, African and American routes. That same year, Emirates begged Pakistan Airlines to loan them 3 aircrafts, which was obliged by Pakistan.
Today, Nigeria Airways is dead and forgotten but Emirates owns one of the largest fleet of modern jet liners, over 400 in number. What has happened to our own great Nigeria Airways? This happened because civil (evil) servants were running the road show in the aviation sector. Today, Ministry of Aviation with her agencies are still having jamboree roadshow only to end up borrowing money.
Currently, governments worldwide are divesting from airports development and requesting that private companies take them over and run these airports, while Nigerian government is borrowing money to develop terminals to be managed by FAAN or who (maybe former Nigeria Airways staff)? This issue of management and operation of these airports is not resolved yet in the equation of our borrowing spree.
The list of countries that have privatised their airports include, UK, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, Singapore, Argentina, Peru, Spain, Gabon just to mention a few. Over 40 countries have so far privatised their aviation sector. IFC, a subsidiary of World Bank, where incidentally, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala worked, midwifed the Saudi Arabian airport privatisation.
The same IFC successfully carried out the Nnamdi Azikiwe privatisation but twisted civil (evil) servants changed the rule because of corruption. When foreigners bidded to invest over $1.30 billion in 2008, the government thwarted IFC supervised transaction advise thereby leading to policy somersault. Now, the new policy architecture is to borrow when there are funds available internationally to invest in the development in the aviation sector. What kind of reform is this. There is a great concern nationwide on this new aerotropolis reform.
Even China, where we have gone to borrow from are currently thinking of privatising their airports, roads, bridges and other infrastructures. Who is deceiving who?
What is the rationale of borrowing only to have these airport structures completely derelict and mismanaged like most of our national assets within a short time. Just take a cursory look at the level of decadence of our national assets, such as, stadia, refineries, steel plants, aluminium smelter plants, airlines, airports, schools, hospitals, secretariats (even Ministry of Finance building where the lift caught fire), roads, bridges, Independence Building, hotels, just too many to mention. The list is endless. Apart from mismanagement, the privileged govt officials will have their pockets lined up. This is the pitiable condition we have found ourselves embedded in nationwide.
The whole motive behind this borrowing saga from China is corruption and nothing else. Only God will save us from this cankerworm, palmerworm, locust and catapillar destroying the very fabric of our national existence. The borrower is a servant to the lender, so says the scriptures. We will soon have our country recolonised by Chinese.
Expecting foreigners to solve our problems is an exercise in self delusion.
Civil servants have a way of packaging corruption to look good and playing on the ignorance of citizens. It is time to put an end to this national disgrace and madness.
By the way, Mr. Bayo Ogunlesi, a bonafide Nigerian and Chairman of Global Infrastructures, owns both Gatwick and City Airports in London. Both have passenger traffic of 45 million. The total number of passenger traffic in all our 22 airports is just less than 16 million passengers which is a quarter of traffic of Heathrow airport.
Does it take rocket science to know that we are on the expressway to disaster and pathway to gloom? Yoruba idiom says, “owo abu lafin se abu lalejo”, that is, robbing Peter to pay Paul.
What we need is FDI and Technical Expertise not borrowed money (even at zero or whatever percentage).
Long live the Federal Government of Nigeria.
I rest my case.
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