The Senate has called for the prosecution of Federal Government officials who negotiated the concession that gave birth to the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2) but reneged on implementing the agreement.
This was the submission of the Senate Committee on Privatisation after its fact-finding mission to the ultra-modern MMA2 terminal in Lagos.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce, who led the team, stated that the people who negotiated the concession agreement must go to jail for not implementing the agreement they signed.
The disclosure by Murray-Bruce could open up former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode and many former Managing Directors of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to scrutiny.
The ex-Minister was instrumental to the agreement that all domestic flights would originate from the new terminal; a condition that allowed the terminal operator to invest more than N36 billion to build the facility.
While Fani-Kayode went the extra mile to ensure the implantation of the agreement, successive Ministers of Aviation had frustrated efforts to implement the pact, alleging that the deal was skewed in favour of Bi-Courtney.
FAAN had allegedly also frustrated every plan to comply with the agreement.
It would be recalled that the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had in 2008 directed former Minister of Aviation, Babatunde Omotoba and a former Managing Director of FAAN to implement the agreement, lampooning them for frustrating the project described as the first-ever successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement in the country.
Murray-Bruce stated that no matter the complaint that trailed the concession agreement, the idea of choosing which agreement to implement by successive governments has scared away investors who would have invested in the aviation sector.
He said the government was aware of what it signed, adding that common sense dictates that they keep to the tenets of the agreement, stressing that Bi-Courtney should not be held responsible for the incompetence of people who inked the deal on the part of government.
After touring the facilities at MMA2, he disclosed that he would lobby his colleagues in the Senate to ensure that aviation gets zero allocation in the 2017 budget, as government has no business investing in aviation since the private sector could do it better.
His words: “The MMA2 agreement is binding and must be implemented. If you don’t implement that agreement, you will frighten away investors. We have reputation of not keeping to agreements. We read in the newspapers that the Federal Government wants to concession multiple airports. This is a good idea, but the MMA2 concession issues must be resolved first. The billions of naira we would have used to rehabilitate the airports will be devoted to education instead.”
“There is an agreement that West African flights will also depart from MMA2 but that has not happened. Why has it not happened?”
He said the Senate would summon the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika on why FAAN and the Ministry of Aviation before now had consistently found it difficult to respect the deal it signed many years ago.
“We will summon the Minister to come and explain his own side of the story as to why Bi-Courtney is not treated well or not allowed to succeed and correct the mistakes. Aviation will get zero budgetary allocation in 2017 because most of these problems in aviation can be fixed by the private sector. Agreement signed between the Federal Government and Bi-Courtney must be honoured,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer of BASL, Captain Jari Olubunmi Williams lamented that the firm has continued to lose money because of the constraints and hindrances put in place by FAAN with the strong support of the Ministry of Aviation.
He stated that FAAN has consistently breached the concession and has continued to violate the agreement, “most notably with the redevelopment and continued operations of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) in contravention of the exclusivity clause in the agreement with the company.”
Williams further lamented that the GAT operations have reduced by more than 50 per cent the revenue expectations of MMA2, which was projected to process four million passengers annually in order to be able to pay back its huge indebtedness within the approved operations phase of the concession agreement.
Senate Committee on Privatisation in attendance were
- Senator Ben Murray-Bruce
- Senator Yahaya Abdullahi
- Hajia Sadiya U.F. Abdullahi – Clerk of the committee
- And four other aides of the Senators.