Aviation workers demand details of $500m Chinese terminal - THE GUARDIAN
. Mobilise protest against airport concession plan
A coalition of aviation workers unions have requested for the details of a $500 million worth of Chinese loan deal to build four terminals, especially the add-on plan to concession the airports. The unions, apparently miffed by the handling of the airport concession arrangement, said the “concession within concession” plot was contradictory in term and not in the best interest of the country. Not giving anything to chances, the coalition said they had begun to mobilise members for a nationwide protest against the whole concession plan of the Federal Government.
Recall that the government had since 2017, begun moves to concession all the 22 airports nationwide, beginning with the big four in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.
Coincidentally, the big four are beneficiaries of a 2013 loan deal between Nigeria and China to build four new terminals each for the airports. Abuja and Port Harcourt currently use the new terminals, while that of Lagos and Kano were yet uncompleted. The coalition, made up of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), and Association of Nigeria Aviation Professional (ANAP). They accused the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, of contravening the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Establishment Act 2004, as well as the Civil Aviation Act 2005, to serve alleged personal purpose in the concession plan.
The General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, observed that there remains no clarity on the question of the semi-concession that already exists through the Chinese loan facility. “Equally important is the loud silence over the issue of primacy of national security, especially at this time and the foreseeable future. They failed to situate issues within the national security architecture, the potential fact of the four foremost international gateways being held in private (most likely foreign) hands. “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.” The unions in a statement alleged that the Minister had usurped the responsibilities of FAAN in the concession, adding that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), should have statutory deal with the airport agency, rather than with individuals.
Deputy General Secretary, Francis Akinjole, said it was regrettable that FAAN had nothing to do with any project identification, prioritisation, or concept note to the ICRC, as required by the ICRC’s protocols. “The only role FAAN has played so far is that of a representative member on the Project Delivery Team (PDT), 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.
“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 these airports’ concession projects, there was no such bidding exercise known to the public.
“As a matter of fact, we are aware that the PDT was at a meeting discussing the issue of TA when they learnt that the FEC had just then announced the approval of the appointment of a TA. While we agree that the 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,” Akinjole stated.
“On the strength of the allegations, the coalition resolved to stand firm against “attempt to share our common patrimony in the guise of a phony concession exercise”.They urged all Nigerians to join them as they prepare for nationwide public protests in the next couple of days.