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FAAN’s woes: Stakeholders indict cabal

THERE are strong indications that an unknown cabal involving concessionaires, various government officials and even some of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN’s)own top officials may have hatched plans to sink the agency, following, events in the past weeks.
Barely days after the managing Director of the agency, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun declared the true state of the agency, especially as it concerns debts by various concessionaires, reactions started flooding the media, all of them not good.
It is no longer news that Bi-Courtney Aviation Services one of FAAN’s concessionaires, after reading from the dailies that they are indebted to the agency to the tune of one million, had a press conference claiming that FAAN, was the one indebted to them, with proof of a High Court order.
Deputy National President of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Aturu Samuelson who spoke exclusively to Daily Champion called on government to x-ray the activities in the aviation industry because there was a secret hand at play.
He said that what was happening was wrong especially as the airlines owe parastatals, concessionaires owe parastatals and the parastatals are having a mounting debt profile.
He made allusion to a conspiracy in the industry that might consume everything and called on government to intervene to save the industry especially from concessionaires who were not patriotic and were only looking for where to reap and not where to sow.
His words,” What is happening in the industry is that there seems to be a kind of conspiracy to bring down the industry to its knees and the government needs to really intervene by putting in place laws that will guide the business that are being entered into in the industry particularly the ones that has to do with the concessionaires.”
“You find concessionaires like Bi-Courtney claiming that its landlord, (FAAN) owes them and that is not good for business. Business is supposed to be reciprocal, business is supposed to be a win, win situation not a win loose situation. The problem Bi-Courtney has is that fortunately, the concession that FAAN entered into with Bi-Courtney did not pass through due process and that is why they have the freedom to just do whatever they like with the concessioned terminal that they are managing. “
“They are not managing an airport, they are managing a terminal and FAAN is providing auxiliary services to Bi-Courtney such as aviation security, fire fighting, and even operational staff. We are giving them some administrative support not to talk of the power consumption that Bi-Courtney is being supplied to from FAAN. So essentially, I think it is high time the aviation Minister, if she really means well for the industry, convenes an urgent stakeholders meeting and call the bluff of all these concessionaires.”
“And you know in our clime Nigeria particularly, we are not ripe for these issues of concession. The Federal government needs to really pump money into industry and make sure that they upgrade facilities and bring the industry to date so that the industry can deliver quality services to the flying public. So I think the government actually has failed and that is why we are calling for a total overall of the industry. We want the government to put together a presidential steering committee that will develop a blueprint to drive the industry and take it to the next level.”
“The problem that I can see is a conspiracy against FAAN, and the government has to set up a high powered investigation into the activities of the aviation industry to know what is going on because if a concessionaire like Bi-Courtney was giving an agreement to build and operate a terminal and they now build a hotel and a press centre then there is more to it than one can explain.”
Aturu also called for an overhaul of the aviation ministry stating that it was filled with lukewarm people who did not know the importance and technicality of the industry they serve.
He said,” It is high time the aviation minister convenes a meeting to find out what is weighing us down in the industry. The problem is the ministry because they don’t have the will to call the concessionaires to order. That is why we are always saying there is need to have professionals in the aviation industry. The industry is a highly technical, mobile and sensitive industry therefore we need professionals to anchor activities in the aviation industry.”
Industry participant and Head, Research of Zenith Travels, Olumide Ohunayo who described FAAN’s tears as belated however exonerated the present management of the airport managers because they had no role in the deal with the concessionaires.
Ohunayo said,” It is fair enough to exonerate the present management of FAAN, considering they were not there when the deal with Bi-Courtney, Pan Express and Maevis were signed, but they are culpable for looking the other way while the bills accumulated to billions of naira.”
He called for government to react to the situation on ground through Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to prove that there was a legal framework covering concessions, simply put a review.
“It is also, not a surprise to see the belated tears at the senate, the surprise we can get now, is if the federal government through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) can bite and prove to Nigerians and prospective investors there is a regulatory and legal frame work in place covering all government concession programme.”
“By setting up ICRC backed by an act and a board, the government has made it clear that it is taking a concessionary posture through the public private participation (PPP), therefore the regulatory and monitoring roles of the commission that should be enamored, seems weak with a clear disconnect with the government agencies involved in concession,” he said
Olumide expressed sadness over incidents like the N64 billion second runway contract, asking what Due Process was doing when this was happening.
“Looking back at the fraudulent N64 billion runway contract, you begin to wonder if the Due Process Unit (DPU) went to sleep when the files got to their office, for the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the body should just be scrapped considering the lame defense, given at the height of public outcry, another committee the Presidential Project Assessment Committee, has just sliced a whooping N13.5 billion from the contract that restricted bidders but passed through, the purported due process of DPU, BPP, FAAN and the Ministry. “
“Luckily, the presidency has finally “shined their eyes”, to acknowledge that all government contract are about 30 per cent higher when compared with other climes, let see the outcome of this numerous committees before 2011 election.”
“It is so painful so see that politicians appointed as ministers went ahead and signed agreements and addendums that have come to haunt us just like the Virgin Nigeria story. ICRC should live up to their responsibility, by re-knotting all knotty concessions in the industry and Nigeria in general.”
“Monitoring and regulatory responsibilities require some toughness; the body should consider having experienced sectoral personnel to assist in handling the different concessions in the country, while at the same time introducing some fines or penalty for defaulters.”
“The Indian government has concession their airports and equally set up an independent body to regulate and monitor the concessionaires, the body introduced “liquidated damages”, which literally whip defaulters in line. Public interest must be protected while revenue must be seen going to the governments.”

About NigerianFlightDeck

Nigerianflightdeck is an online news and magazine platform reporting business stories with a bias for aviation and travel. It is borne out of the intention to inform, educate as well as alter perceptions with balanced reportage.

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