The Nigerian Senate has given a condition for the approval of plans by the Federal Government to concession four international airports, stating that government must probe the controversy trailing the concession of Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMA2) Ikeja, Lagos to Bi-Courtney Aviation Limited.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Chairman Senate Committee on Privatisation, who stated this in Lagos at a Press conference on Monday, decried the refusal of the government to honour the terms of the concession deal it had with Bi-Courtney in 2006, adding that it could hamper efforts to attract investors with the requisite experience to bid for the proposed concessioning or privatisation of the Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano international airports.
“We won’t allow the four airports to be concessioned when the crisis over the concessioning of the MMA2 has not been settled because it has created a bad image of the country.
“You have to abide by the agreements that you sign, you can’t get the best (private sector firms) because they are frightened and will not come knowing that when agreements are signed here, we don’t honour the terms,” Murray-Bruce said.
According to him, the Senate would summon the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika to explain why the present government, like successive ones, had reneged in honouring the terms of the agreement it had with Bi-Courtney. He said for instance, the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement between the government and Bi-Courtney Limited provides an exclusivity clause which gave the company the sole right to operate scheduled commercial domestic and sub-regional flights out of Lagos, so it could recoup its investments. He noted how the Federal Government had turned around to frustrate the deal by also giving the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) the permit to operate the MMA1 also known as General aviation Terminal (GAT).
The government has also not allowed the company to operate regional or sub-regional flights out of the MMA2.
“If we find out that those that signed this agreement did not protect the interest of government, then the Senate will insist that they are prosecuted,” he noted.