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Monday, December 4, 2023

Senate wants concession of Kano, Abuja airports reviewed

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The Senate, on Thursday, asked the Federal Government to review the concession of the Aminu Kano International Airport, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, and other international airports across the country.

The Senate made this known at the plenary after passing a motion by a lawmaker from Kano South, Senator Sumaila Kawu.

Recall that the Federal Executive Council under former President Muhammadu Buhari, on May 17, approved the concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, to the Corporacion American Airport Consortium.

The Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, who presided over the plenary, noted that, although concession was good, it must be done in a transparent manner rather than being shrouded in secrecy as was done in the previous administration under the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

“Although these things must be investigated, I would still vote for concession, but it must be done in a transparent manner,” Barau said.

Kawu, in his motion, argued that it is the “Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, not the Ministry of Aviation, that has the power to transfer its responsibility” to a would-be concessionaire.

“I am worried about the rationale in borrowing and spending public money to upgrade the airport only to hand it over to foreign businesses for a period of 30 years in the name of a concession.

“Nigeria is receiving a concession fee or upfront of $1.5m while the total amount of money that the Kano airport is accruing to the government is $97.4m.

“This reflects that the combined import of the FAAN Act and the ICRC procedures manual are evident manifestations that the entire airports’ concession is based on an incurably faulty foundation,” the lawmaker said.

The Senate agreed that the “Committee on Aviation, when constituted, should investigate the ministry and agencies concerned and report back to the Senate.

The upper chamber also “condemned in strong terms the concessions of the Aminu Kano Airport, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, and other airports and urged the Federal Government to review the entire exercise and give a level playing field to all stakeholders.”

The Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Yakubu Funtua, in a telephone conversation with The PUNCH said the body cannot have a diverse opinion on the issue.

He said partly, “We are with the ministry, whatever their decision is what we stand for, we cannot work against our principal.”

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