…Demands Thorough, Unambiguous Clarification From Minister, ICRC Planned Concession Of $500M Chinese-Built Terminals
Aviation unions have accused the Aviation Minister, Senator HADI Sirika of breaching the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) Establishment Act 2004 and the Civil Aviation Act, 2005 to serve his personal purposes.
The unions comprising the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and Association of Nigeria Aviation Professional (ANAP) made this accusation in statement signed by the General Secretary NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba, Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole and Secretary General ANAP, Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu in reaction to the Ministry position on concession.
According to the statement, “The ICRC and the Ministry, by carrying on with the airports’ concession project outside the purview of FAAN is indicative of an unwholesome agenda. Such action is, in fact, unlawful as it contravenes Part II, 3(g) of the FAAN Establishment Act, 2004 as well as the Civil Aviation Act, 2005.
“As a matter of fact, for a PPP project by an Agency as in this case, the only role prescribed for a Minister by the ICRC is that the Agency “would submit the FBC (Full Business Case) through the line Minister for approval”, by FEC, ostensibly.
“According to the National PPP processes of the ICRC, the Transaction Advisor (TA) is to be appointed through a “competitive bidding process”. We all know that the only way to assure a truly competitive bidding process is through open bidding. But in the case of this airports concession project, there was no such bidding exercise known to the public. As a matter of fact, we are aware that the Project Delivery Team was at a meeting discussing the issue of TA when they learnt that the FEC had just then announced the approval of the appointment of a TA. Magic.
They also seek a thorough and unambiguous explanation on the ongoing concession with Chinese since 2013 on a $500 million loan facility utilized for new terminal buildings at four major airports scheduled some which have already started operations.
The unions, who also alleged that Sirika in collaboration with members of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), are engaged unwholesome practices and that the concession is a phony one, threatened to embark on a nationwide protest against the concession driven by the Minister of Aviation.
On the assertion that the unions are ignorant of concession and PPP procedures, the unions said, “we are not ignorant of the ICRC processes. As a matter of fact, our well-considered contention that the ICRC has not performed due diligence on the concession programme and that the Ministry has not acted altruistically in the matter is borne out of our knowledge that both the Ministry and the ICRC have gravely failed to comply with the established PPP due process.
The four terminals been built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) were to be functional within a year and eight months , however in 2020 only two of the four terminals have been delivered .
“There remains no clarity on the question of the semi-concession that already exists through the Chinese loan facility being utilised for ongoing new terminal buildings at the same four airports, including remodelling of the old terminals. There is yet to be any explanation on that.
“Equally important is the loud silence over the issue of primacy of national security, especially at this time and the foreseeable future. The rejoinder failed to situate, within the national security architecture, the potential fact of the four foremost international gateways being held in private (most likely foreign) hands.
“We hasten, though, to let it be known that we are unambiguously strewn to the national cause and the genuine interest of the workers of FAAN. We are completely extricated from any narrow, or selfish motives. Therefore, we shall remain unwavering in our stated commitment to deny this clandestine PPP the benefit of daylight,” the statement reads in part.
The unions, who dissociated themselves from any notion of being against the concession of airports as being insinuated in some quarters, said, “This lie is defeated by the fact that we did offer an alternative concession model, along with alternative approaches in our earlier press conference. On the strength of that, we shall stand firm against any attempt to share our common patrimony in the guise of a phony concession exercise. And we enjoin all Nigerians who love the fatherland to join us as we prepare for nationwide public protests to be kicked off shortly in order to compel a rethink in a positive direction. There is no going back.”