Apply transparency in airports concession, AFARN tells FG

The Association of Foreign Airlines Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN) has lent its voice to the lingering controversy trailing the concession of the four major airports of Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, and Kano. The group tasked Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika with the handling of the concession process.

President, AFARM, Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma in a press briefing today said AFARN was not against the concession of four major aerodromes but called for the government to ensure it scrutinizes the bidders well to get the best out of the deal.

He particularly made reference to the position of Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) whose firm advised that there may be a legal battle if things are not done right based on what the law says.

 

AFARN President, Kingsley Nwokoma

Falana has penultimate week urged the Federal Government to disqualify Messrs. TAV Consortium and GMR consortium owned by ADP that holds 48 percent share in GMR and 49 percent share in TAV respectively, having expressed desire and bidding for the airports in question against the rule that says, “No applicant, single or consortium can be part of more than one bid in this case”.

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A legal firm, Falana and Falana’s Chambers has petitioned the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika to disqualify TAV Consortium, GMR Consortium, and Airport De Paris (ADP), three of the bidders for the concession of the nation’s four major airports for alleged violation of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (Est.) Act 2005 and The National Policy on Public-Private Partnership (N4P).

In a letter to Sirika dated November 3, 2021, entitled, “Request To Disqualify TAV Consortium, GMR Consortium, and ADP”, and signed by Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), the law firm which prides itself as a firm of legal practitioners dedicated to the defense of Human Rights as well as the promotion of the Rule of Law and public accountability in Nigeria, said they have confirmed that two consortia owned by ADP submitted an expression of interest.

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While leaving the legal technicalities for lawyers, AFARN wants the Federal Government to be very transparent in this process and advised that those that breach the concession rules should be disqualified.

Sirika had promised from the onset that he remained committed to ensuring the highest level of transparency and accountability till the end of the process, stressing that this is because “we believe that the programme is in the best interest of Nigerians as a people and Nigeria as a nation”.

According to Nwokoma, “The world is watching the process and AFARN calls upon the Minister to live up to the above promise he made at the outset of this process”.

The liquidation of the defunct Nigeria Airways which appeared to be done in a hurry he said should be enough lesson for everyone involved in the ongoing concession plan to learn from”.

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“Aviation in Nigeria for two years now has been struggling and presently again, the United Kingdom government has announced flights restrictions from Nigeria, owing to the Omicron variant, of Coronavirus pandemic. This is in addition to the downward trend of the Naira”.

He further urged the government to be circumspect in making their choices putting into consideration many variables such as professionalism, experience, and competence.

“Much as I share this opinion, our position is that things should be done right and transparently too, to avoid crippling the industry that has provided thousands of Nigerians with employments. We cannot afford to gamble this time with the aviation industry, considering the state of the economy and its global outlook too”.

Wole Shadare