It is a visitorâ€™s first contact with any country. In many countries, such a connection is refreshing. But not in Nigeria.
It is choking; it is a direct exposure to decay. It is the perfect advertisement for the rot of Nigeriaâ€™s public utilities. That is the story of Nigeriaâ€™s international airports.
Airport facilities in the country are in a serious state of degradation, further highlighting how unprepared the country is in her march towards attaining the Vision 20:2020.
Most of these airport terminals are over 35 years old. The facilities have become a metaphor for the decay of infrastructure in the country.
Analysts unanimously agreed that this critical sector of the economy must be handled with deft insight because the industry is a contributor to the growth of the economy.
From the airport in Lagos to the one in Kano, Abuja, Owerri, Calabar, Enugu, Sokoto, Abuja, Bauchi, among others, the story is the same. The state of decay is appalling, further raising questions of what has happened to the funds budgeted for airports repairs and development. Sources attribute this decay to corruption.
A visit to many of the airports like the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, and Port Harcourt International Airport, has helped to expose the underbelly of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the managers of the 22 airports across the nation.
At the terminal buildings of virtually all the airports , the decay is seen in their ceilings, toilet seats, public address systems, undulating runways overgrown with weed, dirty environments, insecurity, touting and all shades of illegal operations. The airports are indeed an eyesore.
Passengers had had to wait to reclaim their luggage for more than four hours from very old carousels. The control towers of most of these airports lack modern equipment; the arrival halls are without cooling facilities. For those that have cooling systems, the equipment hang precariously.
There are four carousels at the baggage areas of the airport and all of them are as old as the terminal buildings, with creaky sounds and frequent breakdowns.
Concerned about the decrepit state of the Lagos airport and others, the Managing Director of FAAN, George Uriesi, said the government for now was interested in, â€œpatching up the facilitiesâ€, adding that with time, government may consider building a new terminal for Lagos.
Aviation consultant and public commentator, Chris Azu Aligbe stated that the airports, particularly the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Nigeriaâ€™s busiest airport had become a relic.