The Nigerian  Senate on Thursday condemned the last minute concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) by the administration of the former President Muhammadu Buhari.

The resolutions followed a motion by Senator Kawu Suleiman (NNPP – Kano South), who noted that the then minister of Aviation misguided the Federal Executive Council on the concession of the airports.

The aviation ministry had said that the projected nominal revenues from the combined concession of NAIA and MAKIA are expected to exceed $4 billion.

The ministry said this infusion of private sector investment and the resulting financial benefits will enable Nigerians to implement much-needed upgrades to airport infrastructure, technology, and services.

However, the Senate said the concession was hurriedly done and urged the Federal Government to review the exercise to give a level playing field to all stakeholders.

It also called on its Committee on Aviation, when constituted, to probe all airport concessions embarked upon by the last administration and make necessary recommendations to the Senate.

“Condemned in strong terms the concessions of Aminu Kano Airport, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, and other airports that were conceded in the same way as they were not conceded in public interest.

“Urged the federal government to review the entire exercise and give a level playing field to all stakeholders.”

Before hitting the gravel, the Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, who presided over the plenary, noted that concession was the best way to move forward as it was one of the best practices all over the world.

Barau however noted that although concession was good, it must be done in a transparent manner rather than being shrouded in secrecy as was done in the previous administration under the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Deputy Senate President stated, “Concession is what is in vogue all over the world because the government is a bad manager of business, even the Heathrow airport was conceded to a Nigerian. And the airport is doing really well.

“Although these things must be investigated, I would still vote for concession, but it must be done in a transparent manner.”

Earlier in his motion, Kawu stated that the Federal Executive Council, on 17th May 2023, approved the concession of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano for 30 years, to Messrs Corporación America Airports Consortium.

He noted that that the Federal Ministry of Aviation (and Aerospace) does not own, or run, any airport in Nigeria and that by the dictates of the governing Act of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria. Ownership and management of all federal government airports are fully vested in the Authority.

Kao stated, “The Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission 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;

“This reflects that 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 the power to transfer its responsibility’ to a would-be concessionaire.”

The Kano lawmaker further argued that it was the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, not the Ministry, which has the requisite ‘legislative & policy framework’ for such.”

He added, “I am convinced that if the claim that the FEC has approved the concession of 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;

“I am worried about the rationale in borrowing and spending public money to upgrade the airport only to hand it over to foreign businesses for a period of 30 years in the name of a concession”

He added that he was more alarmed that “Nigeria is receiving a concession fees or upfront of $1.5m while the total amount of money that the Kano airport is accruing to government is $97.4m

“Disturbed that this concession is clearly dubious and raises questions on the process and what the actors stand to gain.”

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