Wale Babalakin, chief executive officer of Resort International Ltd, the company that won the concessional rights to the federal secretariat project conversion, says his company lost N80bn to government’s inability to keep its word.
Speaking at the infrastructure policy commission of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) moderated by Philips Oduoza, the managing director of UBA, Babalakin lamented what he called the “colossal losses suffered” by his company because of government’s tardiness.
“The total loss on the project is in the excess of N80billion. Once again it was the failure of the Government to honour its obligations under the agreement that led to the project being stalled,” he said.
“The development lease agreement actually anticipated this scenario. Clause 3.2(iv) provides that that the federal government shall facilitate the obtaining of a ‘no objection approval’ from the government of Lagos state to change of use of the premises from offices to residential apartments.”
On the controversial Lagos-Ibadan expressway, he expressed concern that three years after, the road is still in a mess, adding that “by now, the concessionaire would have completed the project to the benefit of Nigerians”.
Babalakin also decried the sale of assets to the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) noting that “the assets were sold at 100%. The implication of this is that they were good assets.”
Highlighting a “breach of Nigerian laws”, Babalakin said “a federal government agency moved against those assets.
“It was a wrong and disgraceful move. Rightfully the court upheld the rights of the concessionaire and dismissed the claims of AMCON.”
He said the government was being defiant to a court order, which mandates it to settle debts around the companies involved, AMCON and the federal government.
As a result of this government infraction of a court order, Babalakin noted that “in law, Resort International Ltd and also its sister companies are not indebted to AMCON.”
“On the contrary, Resort International Ltd is a net creditor to the federal government of Nigeria. Painfully the system does not realise that once government is a bad debtor, no serious economy can be created.”
The coincidence between the termination of Lagos-Ibadan project and the institution of criminal charges he said confirms the existence of an agenda that is not based on the laws of criminal prosecution
The attitude of government he said “lacks respect for sanctity of contracts and the rule of law with attendant lack of investor security; corruption and malice being propagated in the country.”
Babalakin said Public Private Partnership (PPP) is a very important way of bridging the infrastructural deficit in Nigeria stressing that “the process has been poorly implemented by those in charge of the reins of power. Ignorance, deliberate refusal to learn, and malice have played a serious role in the underdevelopment of Nigeria.”
On the way out of this problem, Babalakin and other speakers noted that “enlightenment must take place at a very high level to educate the populace that PPP is for the overall good of all. There must be an end to the triumph of mediocrity.”
Also speaking at the event, Aminu Diko, the director general of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said the ICRC law was very weak and already there is a bill before the National Assembly to amend the ICRC Act with a provision for the name of the commission to be changed because it’s acronym is similar to that of the International Community of the Red Cross.
Giving the bad experiences narrated by some of the concessionaires and PPP operators many speakers recommended enhanced capacity of public sector participants “if not they will keep being an impediment.”