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61 investors reject concession plan of Lagos Trade Fair complex by BPE

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The umbrella body for the 61 investors that secured different development lease agreements from the Federal Government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Trade Fair Management Board (TFMB) have petitioned the government for its plan to concession the Lagos International Trade Fair complex on Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

Recall that recently, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had issued a statement that it will on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 showcase investment opportunities in Lagos Trade Fair complex, TBS, Calabar and Kano Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the investing public in a webinar in Abuja.

However, addressing the press shortly after submitting a protest letter to the Executive Director of TFMB, Chief Mrs. Lucy Ajayi in her office, chairman of the body and the President of Association Progressive Traders (APT) in the complex, Chief Eric Ilechukwu, said “It is worrisome that the same Federal Government that had entered into different development lease agreements with 61 of us at different times is coming back to the same complex it has leased out to concession”.

“It is important to make this clarification to the general public that the Federal Government had from 1995 till recently been leasing out portions of the complex to our members and none of the development lease agreements runs less than 25 years. In fact some are 45 years with an option of renewal.

Chief Ilechukwu revealed further that “Currently, what can be said to remaining or yet to be leased out is about 20 or 25 per cent of the complex. So, we are saying that as far as our different lease terms are still running and valid in law, what the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has for concessioning is only that undeveloped portion to avoid trouble.

“All 61 of us have never reneged on our lease agreements and we all are up to date in paying our grand rent directly to the Federal Government’s Single Treasury Account through the supervising TFMB.

“Also, having demonstrated resilient in developing over 75% of the complex to a world class shopping and business centre, we use this opportunity to equally tell the BPE that we are ready the take up the remaining undeveloped areas.

“Since 1995 to date, our members have invested not less than N10 trillion in the development of the complex to world class business centre with borrowed money and we cannot allow our sweat to be suddenly snatched away from us in the name of concession.

He also warned that “Any plan to turn us, the key developers and landlords in the complex as at today to tenants upon securing legitimate lease agreements and borrowing from banks to develop a hitherto abandoned federal asset into the largest single trading complex in sub-Saharan Africa, shall be resisted at all cost”.

In his remarks, former ASPMDA President, Chief Daniel Offorkansi called on the BPE to toe the line of history by going for yet to be concessioned or leased portions to avoid trouble.

He queried “How can a developer-landlord be suddenly turned to a tenant in a property he developed with even borrowed funds under a legitimate development lease agreement with the government”.

Commenting during the official submission of the stakeholders protest letter to the Minister through the ED TFMB, an investor, Mr Ike Magnus Ugo advised the BPE to among other things, “Be definitive in its approach to facilities marked for concessioning, especially with special regard to Lagos trade fair complex which had earlier been partly leased out to investors to avoid trouble.”

However, responding, the ED TFMB, Chief Mrs. Lucy Ajayi assured of prompt delivery of the stakeholders letter to the direct office of the minister in Abuja.

She noted that “This government is a listening government and the Hon Minister is also a listening minister. All your complaints shall be adequately addressed and on time.

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