Sunday Aborisade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday, commenced the investigation of all the federal airports put up for concession by former president Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
The red chamber condemned the process adopted and declared that the exercise was not done in public interest.
It therefore demanded a comprehensive review of the exercise which was carried out at the twilight of the Buhari’s administration.
Senators in their various contributions lamented lack of adequate involvement of critical stakeholders in the process that led to the concession of the two major airports.
The Senate took the decision after robust deliberations on a motion titled, “Urgent Need to Reverse the Concessioning of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano,” sponsored by Senator Suleiman Kawu Sumaila (Kano South)
The lawmakers urged President Bola Tinubu to, lf need be, review the entire exercise and give a level playing field to all stakeholders.
Senators in their various contributions to the debate described the concession as a reflection of executive recklessness
They were unanimous in their condemnation of the entire exercise and insisted that the Buhari administration did not do due diligence in the concession deal.
Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume, who is representing Borno South Senatorial District, said, “Some of government agencies and officials that did the concession took advantage of Buhari’s passiveness at that time.”
Senator representing Niger East, Sani Musa, noted that concession had become an international best practice.
He, however, said those who carried out the exercise threw global process of concession into the gutters.
The Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, who presided over the plenary noted that concession remained the best practice all over the world.
He said major airports in Europe have been concessioned including the Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom which was being managed by a Nigerian. He maintained that there should be an overall investigation of concessions done.
Moving his motion earlier, Kawu said the Federal Executive Council, had on May 17, 2023, approved the concessioning of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano for 30 years, to Messrs Corporaci6n America Airports Consortium.
He noted that the Federal Ministry of Aviation (and Aerospace) does not own, or run, any airport in Nigeria.
He said by the dictates of the governing Act of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), ownership and management of all federal government airports are fully vested in the Authority.
He also said the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) procedure document have rules for concession.
He explained: “The ICRC 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.
“From 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 power to transfer its responsibility to a would be concessionaire.
“It is also FAAN, not the Ministry, which has the requisite ‘legislative and policy framework’ for such
“If the claim that the FEC has approved the 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.”
He expressed concern that government spent public funds to upgrade the airports only to hand them over to foreign businesses for a period of 30 years in the name of a concession.
He said Nigeria was receiving a concession fees or upfront of $1.5 million while the total amount of money that the Kano airport was accruing to government was $97.4 million.
“The concession is clearly dubious and raise questions on the process and what the actors stand to gain.
“The unions in the aviation industry embarked on a strike to question the integrity of the concession exercise.
“The concession of the airport away from FAAN would necessarily cause a cessation of the employment of all the staff involuntarily.
“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,” he added.