JUST when the dust has begun to settle over the thirty-six year airport terminal concession agreement between Bicourtney and the federal government, Bicourtney is again enmeshed in another controversy.
In 2008, aviation workers had queried the long period in which Bicourtney is to manage the terminal (MMA2) in addition to the way and manner the bidding for the terminal was done.
This time, the general aviation terminal, G.A.T at the local airport has been ceded to Bicourtney by the federal government, a development which sparked mass protests by aviation workers in Lagos .
Bicourtney lays claim to the G.A.T as part of a 2003 concession agreement with the federal government, a copy of which no one has cited till date.
Now, letâ€™s look at the issues critically. The MMA2 operated by Bicourtney at the local airport in Lagos was negotiated under a build, operate and transfer arrangement.
The G.A.T had long been in existence before the concession agreement which produced Bicourtneyâ€™s MMA2. Now, how is it that the G.A.T built by the government is being ceded to Bicourtney as part of a build, operate and transfer initiative? Under which arrangement can we qualify the handover of G.A.T to Bicourtney? We might just as well call it â€œhijack, operate and transfer initiativeâ€.
The way the Obasanjo and Yarâ€™adua governments have gone about handing over national assets to certain individuals and friends under questionable circumstances calls for serious scrutiny. Even military rulers with all their excesses and autocracies did not engage themselves in such shady deals.
Privatization and Public-Private Partnership as operated in Nigeria are all products of corruption, which enable the government and its friends to acquire national assets. Itâ€™s a sad truth indeed that there is nothing the blackman does that is hardly ever transparent and free from controversy.
In the advanced countries, privatization and public-private partnership serve as engines for national development. These polices are never used to further enrich some individuals, friends of the government or the ruling party.
If the government wants to privatize or concession the G.A.T, why should the terminal be given out to one particular company without any advertisement or a bidding process to allow different parties compete? And if governmentâ€™s intention is genuine, why handover the terminal to Bicourtney at night when aviation workers were all at sleep?
To cede the G.A.T to Bicourtney under any controversial circumstances is to make Bicourtney reap where it did not sow. To be sure, the G.A.T generates about forty percent of revenue for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria , FAAN. In fact, about thirty-five million naira is realized monthly from the G.A.T. That explains the interests and the intrigues.
The Ibadan Airport , the Akure Airport , Ilorin Airport and several other airports across the country are lying fallow. What about the railway system? Nobody wants to invest in these areas. We all look for fertile grounds to ply our trade.
Nigerians must resist any attempt to handover the G.A.T to Bicourtney or any individual.
We must also resist the sale of the four most viable airports: Lagos , Abuja , Port-Harcourt and Kano to some interest groups under the guise of concessioning.Â If the government wants to sell or concession any airport, the focus must not be on the hubs.
Leaving the dormant ones to sell the hubs would amount to robbing FAAN of its legitimate source of income, which is turn would impact negatively on the nationâ€™s economy.
Already, FAAN is running at a loss, especially with virtually all the local arlines shifting their base to MMA2 and paying royalty to Bicourtney.
The G.A.T controversy is another issue that would serve as a litmus test for the current governmentâ€™s commitment to transparency, accountability and the rule of law.
If the Yarâ€™adua government fails in the long run to retrieve the terminal from Bicourtney, it would be glaring that the government is simply deceitful and pays lip service to justice and due process.