By Bennett Oghifo
The Bureau of Public Enterprises’ planned presentation today of the Lagos International Trade Fair complex, among other federal government assets, for business opportunities, has been challenged by people who said they have unexpired development lease agreements with the government.
Last week, BPE issued a statement that it would, today February 23, 2021 showcase investment opportunities in Lagos Trade Fair complex, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Calabar and Kano Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the investing public.
The presentation of the Lagos International Trade Fair complex is being challenged by not less than 61 investors, who alleged they secured different development lease agreements from the federal government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Trade Fair Management Board (TFMB).
These investors, who congregate as Association of Progressive Traders (APT), have submitted a protest letter to the Executive Director of TFMB.
Thereafter, the President of the association in the complex, Chief Eric Ilechukwu said, “It is worrisome that the same federal government that had entered into different development lease agreements with 61 of us at different times is coming back to the same complex it has leased out to concession.
“It is important to make this clarification to the general public that the federal government had from 1995 till recently been leasing out portions of the complex to our members and none of the development lease agreements runs less than 25 years. In fact, some are 45 years with an option of renewal.
Chief Ilechukwu said, “Currently, what can be said to remain or yet to be leased out is about 20 or 25 per cent of the complex. So, we are saying that as far as our different lease terms are still running and valid in law, what the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has for concessioning is only that undeveloped portion to avoid trouble.
“All 61 of us have never reneged on our lease agreements and we all are up to date in paying our grand rent directly to the Federal Government’s Single Treasury Account through the supervising TFMB.
“Also, having demonstrated resilient in developing over 75% of the complex to a world class shopping and business centre, we use this opportunity to equally tell the BPE that we are ready the take up the remaining undeveloped areas.
“Since 1995 to date, our members have invested not less than N10 trillion in the development of the complex to world class business centre with borrowed money and we cannot allow our sweat to be suddenly snatched away from us in the name of concession.”
According to him, “Any plan to turn us, the key developers in the complex as at today to tenants upon securing legitimate lease agreements and borrowing from banks to develop a hitherto abandoned federal asset into the largest single trading complex in sub-Saharan Africa, shall be resisted by all legal means.”