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Babalakin blasts aviation minister, brands FAAN a ‘primitive regulator’

Babalakin blasts aviation minister, brands FAAN a ‘primitive regulator’
October 21
15:18 2016

Wale Babalakin, chairman of Bi- Courtney Group and senior advocate of Nigeria, says the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is a primitive regulator that also acts as an operator.

Babalakin, who spoke at to the federal house of representatives committee on Aviation in Abuja, on ‘The Need to Rescue the Airline Industry From Imminent Collapse’, said FAAN had violated and desecrated the principles of the rule of law.

He claimed that the regulator failed to comply with court judgments on his company’s “transparent” concession of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2).

Making reference to a memorandum earlier submitted to the panel, titled, ‘The Need to Comply With The Laws of Nigeria’, the lawyer said “the time has come to bring into the open completely the issue of Bi-Courtney’s concession”.

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Speaking on the third day of the four-day hearing, Babalakin dismissed comments attributed at an earlier session to Hadi Sirika‎, minister of state for aviation, that the concession was not transparent.

“That statement is totally false and anybody making such is not dealing with facts. The minister of aviation passed adverse statements when he appeared (at this hearing). We want to state that that is his personal opinion,” he said.

He said the concession was originally granted to Sanderton Ventures Ltd (SVL) and later taken over by Bi-Courtney, as reserved bidders after SVL’s failure to deliver.

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Babalakin accused FAAN of ineptitude in virtually all of its dealings regarding the concession, saying: “If FAAN is not embarrassed, we feel totally disgraced as Nigerians.”

He stated that FAAN pays N50m per month as damages to Sanderton, noting that this was due to the agency’s failure to defend itself.

BABALAKIN: 70 PERCENT OF MMA2 IS IDLE

He faulted FAAN’s design of MMA2, saying “as it is today, we are only utilising 30 percent of MMA2; 70 percent is idle”.

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He lamented that elements of the design had so far not been approved, or blocked, including hotel and conferencing facilities, a mono rail, fuel hydrant and a power plant.

He said this had hindered the Nigerian aviation industry from fulfilling its potential.

Babalakin also stated that the federal government owes Bi-Courtney N132bn in damages, for which interests continue to accrue.

“FAAN has shown complete disregard to constituted authority and the laws of Nigeria,” Babalakin said, noting that the concession had been subject to six appeals by various interests, all won by Bi-Courtney.

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“It is incongruous, it is primitive to have an operator as a regulator. FAAN is a regulator competing with the concessionaire.”

Monica Alphonse, FAAN’s deputy general manger (PPP), outlined what she said were the agency’s grounds for non-compliance.

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Okewu Benjamin, president of Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), opposed Babalakin’s claims on the concession and issues around the industry.

Onyejeocha Nkeiruka, federal lawmaker representing Isuikwato/Umunneochi constituency, Abia state, urged “all the stakeholders – FAAN, Labour and Bi-Courtney – agree that there needs to be transparency”.

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