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Federal Gov’t Targets More Revenue, Ends Free Airport Services For VIPs

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The Federal Government has ended the long-standing practice of allowing notable personalities also known as VIPs from accessing airports and use facilities for free through complimentary e-tags and stickers.

Minister of Aviation, Mr Festus Keyamo announced the policy change to State House correspondents on Tuesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa.

Keyamo said the previous exemptions represented an 82% loss in potential revenue from the e-tag system meant to recover costs for airport services and infrastructure maintenance.

The minister provided the example of one airport gate that should generate 250-260 million naira monthly but was returning less than 100 million due to exemptions.

He argued that it was unacceptable for wealthy Nigerians to receive free passage while ordinary citizens pay full fees, adding that it is inconceivable that it is the VIPs that do not pay for services while the poor pay in the country.

He said, “When we came to office, we met a tradition on the ground where at the end of the year, all manners of VIPs would approach us for what they call complimentary e-tags or complimentary stickers.

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“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. 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, got my team together. I said we need the backing of counsel to compel everybody.

“In fact, guess what? Our memo says with the exception of the President and the Vice President. And the President over ruled me and said he and the Vice President will pay, he said everybody.

“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% in the negative.

“In other words, where we are supposed to have a 100% contract with e-costs from these e-tags that we print, it is only 18% that we now end up selling.

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“That is how bad it is, 18% and 82% 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?”

Moving forward, he said the administration will issue a system-wide circular requiring all VIPs – including the judiciary, legislature, executive branch and military – to purchase yearly e-tags for their personnel rather than receiving permanent free access.

Keyamo said this policy will improve revenue for upgrading decaying airport infrastructure.



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