Babalakin opens up on MMA2 concession
Chairman of Bi- Courtney Group and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Wale Babalakin has described the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as a player in the aviation industry instead of a regulator it should be.
Speaking at the Federal House of Representatives Committee on Aviation in Abuja last week, on ‘The Need to Rescue the Airline Industry From Imminent Collapse’, Babalakin observed that FAAN had violated and desecrated the principles of the rule of law.
Buttressing his claims, he said FAAN failed to comply with court judgments on his company’s “transparent” concession of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2).
Referring to a memorandum earlier submitted to the panel, titled, ‘The Need to Comply with the Laws of Nigeria’, Bi-Courtney chairman said “the time has come to bring into the open completely the issue of Bi-Courtney’s concession”.
Reacting to comments attributed at an earlier session to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, that the concession was not transparent, Babalakin said “That statement is totally false and anybody making such is not dealing with facts. The minister of aviation passed adverse statements when he appeared (at this hearing). We want to state that that is his personal opinion”.
He said the concession was originally granted to Sanderton Ventures Ltd (SVL) and later taken over by Bi-Courtney, as reserved bidders after SVL’s failure to deliver.
Babalakin accused FAAN of ineptitude in virtually all of its dealings regarding the concession, saying: “If FAAN is not embarrassed, we feel totally disgraced as Nigerians.”
Babalakin revealed before the Committee that FAAN still pays N50m per month as damages to Sanderton, noting that this was due to the agency’s failure to defend itself and the matter is a shame to the economy.
He faulted FAAN’s design of MMA2, saying “as it is today, we are only utilising 30 percent of MMA2; 70 percent is idle”.
He lamented that elements of the design had so far not been approved, or blocked, including hotel and conferencing facilities, a mono rail, fuel hydrant and a power plant.
He said this had hindered the Nigerian aviation industry from fulfilling its potential.
Babalakin also stated that the federal government owes Bi-Courtney N132bn in damages, for which interests continue to accrue.
“AAN has shown complete disregard to constituted authority and the laws of Nigeria,” Babalakin said, noting that the concession had been subject to six appeals by various interests, all won by Bi-Courtney.
“It is incongruous; it is primitive to have an operator as a regulator. FAAN is a regulator competing with the concessionaire.”