OPINION: ‘Criminal’ negligence of MMIA



The Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) terminal is at best one of the worse airport terminals in Africa. The airport in all honesty has outlived its usefulness.

The airport terminal is what you use in judging any nation because the very first impression starts from there.

When the airport terminal was commissioned in 1978, even up to late 1990, it was processing just about 200,000 passengers in a year.

This has however changed, as the terminal now processes more than six million yearly, with an increase in the number of aircraft that fly into the country.

A former Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma had in 2015 at a Senate hearing by the Ad Hoc Committee on Aviation disclosed that when FAAN invited German engineers to repair the airport’s generators, inaugurated since inception, they were shocked that Nigeria still use such obsolete equipment discarded in other parts of the world.

The immediate past Managing Director of FAAN, Capt. Rabiu Yadudu just last week before he was relieved of his duties lamented the precarious nature of the MMIA, describing it as obsolete and one that had defied palliative, advising that the country needs to build a world-class international airport terminal.

“We need to construct Lagos airport international airport terminal. All these palliative cannot work. We need a new terminal. All components are obsolete,” Yadudu said.

Not a few agreed with these two former managing directors of the agency that were directly responsible for airport management in the country.

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The maintenance work of the terminal has been left for too long untouched. That probably explains why the facilities are now refusing to cooperate with the engineers and artisans that have been maintaining it.

The Murtala Muhammed International Airport terminal is truly an eyesore and one that negatively portrays the country as unserious.

A former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah had spent several billions of Naira on airport remodeling that at best saw every palliative measure taken as a complete waste. Despite the questionable remodeling exercise, they were not truthful to themselves that what they were doing was a deliberate waste of resources as many had hinted then that what Nigeria needed wasn’t remodeling but a brand new airport terminal.

Surprisingly and shockingly, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which is winding down in a matter of days did not consider it necessary to either bring down the edifice for a new one or look for a better palliative measure to at best save the country the shame that is daily advertised as an airport terminal.

Successive governments did not see the need to save us the shame of having a facility that had long outlived its usefulness. It is hoped that the incoming government would see aviation as a sector that requires declaring an emergency just like some few other sectors that equally require urgent attention.

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Countries that are smaller in size and resources are building world-class airport terminals. Airport operator and manager Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) broke ground on the construction of its flagship project (Terminal 3) at Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in March 2016.

The expansion of Kotoka International Airport supports the country’s ambition to upgrade its vital infrastructure by modernising and transforming Kotoka Airport into a gateway for West Africa and as a regional aviation hub.

The Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD) is a new international airport in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. The airport was commissioned in December 2017.

The AIBD project is funded via loans from a number of banks such as the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), which approved a €70m ($82.14m) loan in December 2010.

The Islamic Development Bank provided $117.3m for the development, while the West African Development Bank offered $30m in funding. The airport has grown to be one of the strong aviation hubs in West Africa.

Kotoka Int’l airport terminal

A new airport South of Kigali, Rwanda could accommodate eight million passengers a year, making it one of the busiest in Africa by the time the $2 billion airport is completed and whose developers want it to be the jewel in the crown of Africa’s aviation industry.

Then, what is the problem with Nigeria; a country very rich in natural resources but very poor in the execution of world-class airport terminals and facilities?

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When Nigeria’s Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) was being fashioned in the pattern of the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, not a few Nigerian civil construction engineers applauded the foresight of the Military Government which saw to the speedy conclusion of the airport. It was then said to be the pride of not just the West African sub-region, but indeed, the entire Africa as a continent.

Worldwide, airports are redeveloped regularly to meet passengers’ demand and growth, so that the facilities are not overstretched.

Unfortunately, for the MMIA, since its commission, nothing has been done to improve its infrastructure, except for routine maintenance.

That explains why air travelers, whenever they fly out of Nigeria or return to the country, often through the MMIA have tales of woe to tell. Usually, these border on how filthy, unsafe, and embarrassingly hot the airport terminals are.

Senegal’s new airport terminal

There is no denying the fact that the airport has been criminally neglected for too long, and left to deteriorate at such an alarming rate, that it has continued to be more of a scare to its users.

However, in the face of growing technological improvement in the aviation industry globally, aviation experts say it has become expedient to upgrade the facilities to conform to trends in the 21st century.

Wole Shadare