Just as the Nigerian aviation sector is about to come alive from the shackles of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, indications emerged on Tuesday that the industry may soon witness another major disruptions over the planned concession of four major airports in the country.
The concession project has been a single project of the Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika since he assumed the supervisory role of the industry some five years now, but has continued to meet opposition from unions in the aviation industry.
On Tuesday in Lagos, the unions described the actions of the Minister as self-serving, inimical to the growth of the industry and a step toward mortgaging the commonwealth of Nigerians.
The four labour bodies, NUATE, ATSSSAN, ANAP and NUP called on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Executive Council, the National Assembly and Nigerians to resist the action of Minister whom they said has sidetracked all relevant bodies and laws to personally carry out all transactions pertaining to the concession of the four airports.
Speaking on behalf of the unions, Comrade Aba Ocheme, said “the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, brandished, this past Thursday (June 25, 2020) the Certificate of Compliance issued him by the ICRC which purportedly confirms that the Minister has complied with all needed requirements to proceed with the process of concession for the four international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
Therefore the Minister will now proceed to seek the approval of Federal Executive Council (FEC) for his proposed Outline Business Case (OBC) for the project.”
“But it is highly regrettable that both the Minister and the ICRC are engaging in a ruse, and are indeed taking Nigerians for a ride. We can say with authority that everything so far about the issue of concession for the four airports have been single handedly decided by the Honourable Minister himself, and the ICRC has not carried out any due diligence on the concession exercise. If it did, the Commission would have discovered wide gulfs of deception in the exercise.”
He said “For example, while the Project Delivery Team (PDT) – which includes the ICRC – was still discussing the issue of Transaction Adviser (TA), the Honourable Minister of Aviation was on air announcing the approval of FEC of a TA and his fees. Both the TA and the fees were apparently decided solely by the Minister. Up till date, the PDT has not been allowed to take a position on the matter, its effort in that direction being frustrated surreptitiously.
Also, at the last meeting of the Project Delivery Team, in late 2019, it was decided that the airports concession issue be degraded to the bottom of the list of aviation priority projects while upgrading the National Carrier, Aviation Leasing Company, and the aircraft Maintenance and Repair Organisation for quick delivery.”
“In addition, the ICRC was requested to provide the required components for the OBCs for the upgraded projects which the Commission promised to provide at the next meeting. That next meeting is yet to be called till date. But now, the same ICRC has been said to have issued a Certificate of Compliance (C of C) to the Honourable Minister of Aviation for the Outline Business Case for concession of four international airports. So we ask, who is fooling who?”
For the records, the unions said” the Project Delivery Team comprises about five Federal Ministries, including Aviation and Finance, and other agencies including FAAN and the ICRC itself, as well as two representatives of our Unions.
Unfortunately, the Honourable Minister of Aviation completely sidestepped the Team and has gone ahead with his own programs as determined by himself alone. Our Unions have decided that we shall have to review our membership of the PDT if this type of public deceit and shenanigan continue.”