An Aviation security and safety consultant as well as Secretary General of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd), has disclosed that foreign and private airlines flying into Nigeria’s airports pay zero Customs duty on importation into the country.
Addressing maritime journalists at the second Transport Leadership Lecture organised by Kings Communication limited with the theme “Leadership in A Next level” in Lagos, he said said that government agencies at the airports pay Customs duty when they import while private airlines pay zero duty charges. According to him, the same thing goes for discos as they are not paying Customs duty as well.
On the treat such act poses on the nation’s economy, Ojikutu said it is unilateral exploitation by some individuals because there is no law that says private airlines should not pay Customs duty. He said the same individuals who runs private airlines are the same people that are blaming government for not providing infrastructure for the citizens.
He added: “For you to know how serious it is, there was a period the managing director of NAMA said at press conference that he had to go and collect 10 containers that have been in the wharf for over two years because the private airlines can’t pay the duty. That’s why we have to be very careful in blaming government because they are the ones inside and outside government.
“You as pressmen should ask the Minister of Aviation that you heard it somewhere that foreign airlines don’t pay duties and your agencies pay duties. Where is the policy? It is not a policy that this person should pay or not. It is somebody that sits down there shouting and shouting and say okay, let me see what I can do. If it is a policy, everybody will pay. When private airline don’t pay duty, how can government make money? How much money can local airlines generate?”
Speaking on the proposed airport concession, he said that government should concession the airport because Nigeria does no have money to continue to sustain the facilities and must therefore hand them over to private operators.
According to him, Nigeria has 26 airports with 20 of them belonging to government, while six are privately and state owned.
He asked: “How many of the 20 airports do airlines fly into? But you have to maintain the airports. Government has to use money it makes from Lagos and Abuja airports to maintain the other ones, which is a waste of resources.
“With all the 26 airports, passengers traffic in them is less than 16 million while Johannesburg airport, which is the only one airport in South Africa, has passengers traffic of 22 million. We must make the other airports viable. The airlines must corporate with themselves. they must find a way of going into other airports. In a country of 180 people and the 26 airports are only having 16 million passengers traffic.”