Senate to summon aviation minister over airport concession

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ABUJA, NOVEMBER 29, 2016 – The Senate Committee on Privatisation on Monday revealed plans to summon the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, over the concession of the Muritala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 and other airports across the country.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who led other members on a tour of the MMA2, said the agreement signed between Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria on the Build, Operate and Transfer of the MMA2 must be adhered to before other airports could be given to private operators as concessions.

He said, “We will summon the Minister of Aviation to the National Assembly to present his side of the argument why the agreement signed under the concession is not being followed.

“Why will you concession an airport and still come to the government to ask for money to fund another facility when you have a private sector organisation already funding it? FAAN is a parastatal under the ministry, so we have no business talking with them. Let the minister explain what is happening and correct the problem.”

Murray-Bruce said the sector would get zero allocation from the Federal Government from next year as the private sector had shown the capability to manage the airports.

He added that if the concession agreement was not implemented, all those who participated in the process should be tried.

He said, “Agreement must be honoured or those who participated must be tried for sabotaging the Federal Government. We have raised the issue with the Attorney General of the Federation; the Senate will insist they are tried.

“We want to protect the integrity of the Federal Government; we will not continue to spend taxpayers’ money on businesses that can be run by the private sector, while Nigerians are hungry.”

According to him, the total disregard for the concession agreement is the major problem the sector is having.

“If you sign an agreement and you refuse to honour it, you frighten people who intend to be involved in the concession game or any other negotiation with the government,” Murray-Bruce added.

He said the Senate would stop the planned concession of other airports until the irregularities with the MMA2 were corrected.

The management of Bi-Courtney had asked the Federal Government to prevail on FAAN to comply with the various court rulings, arbitration proceedings and recommendations regarding the concession agreement, such as the commencement of regional flights from the terminal for which approval had been given previously.

The Chief Executive Officer, Bi-Courtney Limited, Capt. Jari Williams, said the company had lost about 50 per cent of its expected revenue from the concession.

Murray-Bruce said that with the underutilised facilities at the terminal, there was no reason why flights to West African countries should not leave or land at the terminal.

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