Senates Condemns Buhari For ‘Secret’ Airport Concessions - Orders Probe

The Senate on Thursday condemned the administration of Muhammadu Buhari for “secret” concessions of some airports across the country.

It passed a legislation and ordered a thorough probe.

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The upper house took the decision following a motion by Senator Sumaila Kawu (NNPP, Kano South), who queried the manner in which Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Nnamdidi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; and other international Airports were concessioned.

He recalled in his motion that the Federal Executive Council, on 17th May 2023, approved the concession of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano for 30 years, to Messrs Corporación America Airports Consortium.

He argued that the Federal Ministry of Aviation (and Aerospace) does not own or run any airport in Nigeria, rather, that power is vested on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, based on the governing Act.

“The Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission procedure document states, with respect to the agency that wishes to concession a facility that, ‘The public entity should have enabling authority to transfer its responsibility enabling legislative and policy framework or an Administrative Order to that effect;

“This reflects that the combined import of the FAAN Act and the ICRC procedures manual is an evident manifestation that the entire airports’ concession is based on an incurably faulty foundation.

“There is no doubt that it is the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, not the Ministry of Aviation, that has the power to transfer its responsibility’ to a would-be concessionaire,” the lawmaker argued.

He chastised the Ministry of Aviation for usurping the ‘legislative and policy framework.’

“I am convinced that if the claim that the FEC has approved the concession of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport has any substance, then the FEC has indeed been misguided in its decision, and that action cannot amount to anything than a nullity;

“I am worried about the rationale in borrowing and spending public money to upgrade the airport only to hand it over to foreign businesses for a period of 30 years in the name of a concession.”

He lamented in his motion that “Nigeria is receiving a concession fees or upfront of $1.5m while the total amount of money that the Kano airport is accruing to the government is $97.4m.

“Disturbed that this concession is clearly dubious and raises questions on the process and what the actors stand to gain.”

While noting that the unions had embarked on strike during the commissioning process as FAAN was sidelined, he said “the concession by the Buhari-led administration raises a fundamental question of injustice on why an elephant project with huge public investment would take place just at the end of the administration.

“It is also observed that there are faulty gaps inherent in the concession that would lead to an array of lawsuits and thereby embarrass the current administration.”

The red chamber, in a decision said, “the committee on Aviation when constituted should investigate the ministry and agencies concerned to report back to the Senate.

“Condemned in strong terms the concessions of Aminu Kano Airport, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, and other airports that were conceded in the same way as they were not conceded in public interest

“Urged the federal government to review the entire exercise and give a level playing field to all stakeholders.”

Speaking before the ruling, the Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, who presided over the plenary, said Hadi Sirika carried out certain policies in secrecy hence the need for thorough investigation.

“Concession is what is in vogue all over the world because the government is a bad manager of business, even the Heathrow airport was conceded to a Nigerian. And the airport is doing really well.

“Although these things must be investigated, I would still vote for concession, but it must be done in a transparent manner,” he said.

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