The ongoing controversy over the $600 million tied up in funds from the foreign airlines operating in Nigeria may soon be addressed as evidence suggests the relevant authorities in Nigeria are already working around it.

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said this on Monday at Lagos airport during a tour of the newly opened terminal in the international wing of the airport.

Responding to questions from journalists about the locked up funds, the minister said the relevant government organizations were working to address the issue and said: “As for the locked up funds, I can tell you that the relevant authorities are working hard on that issue”.

Speaking about whether the loans obtained from China and other institutions would be put to good use and repaid as stipulated in their contract terms, the minister expressed his optimism that the loans obtained by the federal government for infrastructure purposes would be judiciously used by the government were used but regretted that most Nigerian citizens do not pay taxes to the government.

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He appealed to the Nigerians to ensure prompt and adequate payment of taxes for the growth of the country.

The Nigerian government had secured a $500 million loan with the Exim Bank of China for the construction of five new terminals, while the Nigerian government added additional $100 million in funding.

Construction of the new international terminal in Lagos started in 2013 by the Chinese construction company, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), with a completion date of 20 months.

However, the public was concerned about the federal government’s repayment plans.
According to the minister: “The problem is not actually taking the money, but what we do with the money. When loans are used and invested in such infrastructures, it means that the loans are widely used.

“The big problem is that the tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is so low because most Nigerians don’t pay taxes. So I want to appeal to Nigerians to help the government pay their taxes, and then there will be a reduction in the deficit that we are experiencing.”
The minister expressed his satisfaction with the new Lagos airport terminal and emphasized that the facilities in the terminal are comparable to anywhere in the world.

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He explained that the new terminal was built to complement the old terminal, which was built in 1979, and emphasized that the terminal, with eight security checkpoints, seven passenger bridges and six boarding gates, has a capacity of 14 million passengers per year.

Lai-Mohammed praised President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting infrastructure development in the country despite the challenges, while insisting that no government in the country had shown much commitment to infrastructure in the country in the past, Lai-Mohammed said. Mohammed: “I was here 40 years ago when the first terminal was built. given order. You know aviation is ruthless to any mistake. So we have to test run and be extremely sure that each device works optimally. The great thing is that this airport has become operational. You can come here and continue to different parts of the world.

“When the old airport was put into use, it took a while before it was operational. The new international terminal should not replace the old one, but complement it. It is gradual, and very soon this airport will be very busy. You see that terminals are not only used by airlines. We have restaurant owners, banks, exchange offices and others. And you have to screen people over and over before it becomes operational.”

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Trapped money from airlines: relevant authorities are working on it ― Lai Mohammed

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