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Tinubu, Shettima, others now to pay tolls at nation's airports' gates


President Bola Tinubu, his deputy, Kashim Shettima, and other top Nigetian government officials are now to pay access fees at the gates of the airports across the country.

This was disclosed to the State House correspondents by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja on Tuesday.

Before now, very important Nigerians including the president, vice president and some government officials, were exempted from paying access fees at the airports’ gates.

Mr Keyamo said the approval for this category of Nigerians to start paying the fees was given following a memo he presented at the FEC meeting.

“For the aviation sector, we presented two memos and got two approvals.

“The first approval that we sought and obtained was with the respect to mandatory payments of access fees by all visitors at our federal airport tollgates nationwide. No more exemption. No more exemption.

“When we came to office, we met a tradition on the ground where at the end of the year, all manner of VIPs would approach us for what they call complimentary e-tags or complimentary stickers whereby you see them coming into our airports nationwide. They don’t pay the access fees. They don’t pay for parking, they don’t pay for essential services at airports, and they are VIPs.



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“And I told myself and my team, I said not under my watch. It will not happen. If this tradition has been existing for years, I will not allow it to happen. Because it is inconceivable that in our country it is the VIPs that don’t pay for services but it is the poor men that pay for services. The VIPs was supposed to have money to pay for services but they compel poor men to pay for services. And I said no.

“So, I got my team together. I said we need the backing of Council to compel everybody. In fact, guess what? Our memo says with the exception of the president and the vice president. And the president overruled me and said he and the vice president will pay. He said everybody,” he said.

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Mr Keyamo explained that because of the exemption, the Aviation sector loses billions of naira in revenue.

He said, “Let me give you the shocking statistics. The negative figure that we get at the end of the day from the complimentary e-tags is 82 per cent, in the negative.

“In other words, where we are supposed to have a 100 per cent contract the e-costs from these e-tags that we print, it is only 18 per cent that we now end up selling. That is how bad it is. 18 per cent and 82 per cent of these e-tags are given out free of charge to VIPs. So imagine the loss at my sector and I ask myself which other sector will I go to that they give me anything free?

“Is it because I’m a VIP that you say that in FCT I should not pay land charges that you waive it for me? I pay for that sector. I pay for power. Yes, I pay for everything.

“So why would anybody now come to my own sector and want to get free passage? Not possible. That is how bad it is. So this has led in the past to loss of billions of naira, not millions, annually because of this. And yet our airport infrastructure you know is decaying. I am helpless. I’m looking for concessionaires. I’m looking for help for decaying infrastructure.

“And they will be the first to cry out, these same VIPs – why are the toilets like this? Why are your toilets smelling? Why can’t you do this? They are the same people, but they don’t pay for the services. So if we want improved infrastructure at the airport, we must pay for services.”

The minister said the aviation ministry was supposed to be making about N260 million from a particular airport gate but that because of the policy of exemption, it makes only about N100 million every month.

“I’ll give you another example. In one of the access gates, based on the count of the barrier going up and down, we are supposed to be making N250 or 260 million from that gate every month. That gate because of exemptions the return to us is less than N100 million every month.

“And that also of course, breeds corruption because now you cannot track, you cannot have the audit trail of those free tags that you now give to our people to give out to people,” he said.

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Mr Keyamo said the council mandated the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, to send a circular to government establishments directing them to pay access fees henceforth.

“So it was approved that the SGF should send a system wide circular to everybody. We are going to also write to everybody, be it in the judiciary, the legislature, the executive, the military high command, they can buy for their personnel yearly.

“They don’t have to pay for every time you pass. Buy the yearly tags for all your officers, you have the money, pay us so that we can improve our services at the airports,” the minister said.



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