The Federal Government has concluded plans to announce approved concessionaires for the quadruple of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano airports next week.

The Guardian learnt that the flagship Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) will have its new operator announced by March 22.

A total of 13 airport consortia, comprising local and foreign companies, submitted bids to be prequalified for the planned concession of international airports. Among them is Bi-Courtney Aviation Service Limited (BASL) which currently owns and operates the Murtala Muhammed Airport II (MMA2) terminal, Lagos.

The bidding, towards running the airports efficiently and profitably, was open to firms or consortia with track records in airport terminal management and net worth of N30 billion per firm or consortium. The concession is billed to run for 20 to 30 years tenure in a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) model.

As of last November, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), has concluded the evaluation of the 13 bidders and turned in the report to the Ministry of Aviation to make a decision on companies that are best suitable for the concession.

The Guardian gathered that the approved operators have emerged and are set to be announced, perhaps in the Minister of Aviation’s hurry to pull through on both airport concession and national carrier project before the political season goes full swing.

Chairman of BASL, Wale Babalakin, had earlier urged the Federal Government to look inwards for credible bidders and investors for the four major airports.

Babalakin said it diminishes the country and discourages potential foreign investors to find no local capacity on the bidding priority list.

“In other places, those who have demonstrated such expertise and have the capacity will be the first choice. But in Nigeria, we are looking for investors from people that do not have proven track records, especially at a time when credible companies are leaving Nigeria for neighbouring African countries. Why look for expertise from outside when you have tested technical hands that are proven for 14 years?

“BASL is interested in anything that is intelligent infrastructure development. I have had people say are you a businessman? I am not a businessman, I am a lawyer and an infrastructure developer, I don’t trade, I don’t import and export. What is my interest? Infrastructure development and that’s where you find me.

“So, we are interested but we are more interested in the process leading to the emergence and we believe that we are entitled to be the first option. In any organised country, we would be given the first option,” Babalakin said.