A fresh tension is gathering across the country’s aviation sector as the unions have announced plans to embark on a nationwide protest to be kicked off anytime from now over what they called an attempt by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and members of the ICRC to share the common patrimony of Nigerians in the guise of a phony concession exercise.
In a joint statement issued by the unions, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the National Association of Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professional (ANAP), the unions faulted the mode of the approach being engaged by the government to concession the international four airports.
The unions particularly condemned the sidetracking of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), an agency of government that should be responsible for playing a major role the ministry of aviation has since usurped saying: “We hereby publicly dissociate ourselves from any notion of being against the concession of airports as being insinuated in some quarters. This lie is defeated by the fact that we did offer an alternative concession model, along with alternative approaches in our earlier press conference. On the strength of that, we shall stand firm against any attempt to share our common patrimony in the guise of a phony concession exercise. And we enjoin all Nigerians who love the fatherland to join us as we prepare for nationwide public protests to be kicked off shortly in order to compel a rethink in a positive direction. There is no going back.
“The mode of operation of the ICRC is to deal directly with the concessioner Ministry, or Department, or Agency (MDA); in this instance, the FAAN. But, as we all well know, FAAN has not even as much as do any project identification, or prioritization, or concept note to the ICRC on the concession of any airport in Nigeria to the ICRC as required by the publicly stated ICRC procedures. And the only role FAAN has played so far is that of a representative member on the Project Delivery Team and the Steering Committee as appointed by the Minister.
Therefore, the ICRC and the Ministry, by carrying on with the airports’ concession project outside the purview of FAAN is indicative of an unwholesome agenda. Such action is, in fact, unlawful as it contravenes Part II, 3(g) of the FAAN Establishment Act, 2004 as well as the Civil Aviation Act, 2005. As a matter of fact, for a PPP project by an Agency as in this case, the only role prescribed for a Minister by the ICRC is that the Agency “would submit the FBC (Full Business Case) through the line Minister for approval”, by FEC, ostensibly.
“According to the National PPP processes of the ICRC, the Transaction Advisor (TA) is to be appointed through a “competitive bidding process”. We all know that the only way to assure a truly competitive bidding process is through open bidding. But in the case of this airport concession project, there was no such bidding exercise known to the public. As a matter of fact, we are aware that the Project Delivery Team was at a meeting discussing the issue of TA when they learned that the FEC had just then announced the approval of the appointment of a TA. Magic.
“While we agree that the project delivery Team (PDT) is not an approving authority, we must nevertheless state that the PDT is a vital organ of the PPP process with definite functions and mandates. Its functions form the foundation upon which the success of the entire PPP project rests. Therefore, by circumventing the functions of the PDT as the ICRC and the Ministry have done, particularly by the clandestine appointment of Transitional Advisor (TA), there is a clear case of violation of the process as well as a travesty against the Nigerian people.
“Earnestly speaking, it is an understatement to state that the Minister has single-handedly driven the entire airport PPP processes thus far. Any effort to contradict this solid fact flies in the face of overwhelming evidence of the over-arching actions of the Minister on this matter. Please permit us to point out but a few:
‘We are absolutely convinced that the preponderance of infractions/violations, short-circuiting/circumventions, and gross abuses of the PPP processes have denied the proposed airport concession of any nobility. Any non-chauvinistic and honest assessment of the airport’s concession program so far cannot but confirm our earlier held view that this concession is a crime against the Nigerian State and its people, and that it should be discontinued forthwith.
“The concession program has nothing in it to cater to the demise that faces the remaining eighteen (18) airports when the life support that the four airports represent is switched off by the blood-sucking concession program. The rejoinder did not address that.
“Equally important is the loud silence over the issue of primacy of national security, especially at this time and the foreseeable future. The rejoinder failed to situate, within the national security architecture, the potential fact of the four foremost international gateways being held in private (most likely foreign) hands.
“Furthermore, there remains no clarity on the question of the semi-concession that already exists through the Chinese loan facility being utilized for ongoing new terminal buildings at the same four airports, including remodeling of the old terminals. There is yet to be any explanation on that.
“We hasten, though, to let it be known that we are unambiguously strewn to the national cause and the genuine interest of the workers of FAAN. We are completely extricated from any narrow, or selfish motives. Therefore, we shall remain unwavering in our stated commitment to deny this clandestine PPP the benefit of daylight.”