THE news broke out Monday morning of how the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) through the aviation unions in a questionable manner took over the job of managing the tollgate of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
The unions had in the early morning of the day trooped out to the access gate to chase away officials of the concessionaire, the Intergrated Intelligent Imaging West Africa Limited (I-Cube), the company initially awarded the contract to collect toll fares at the access gate on behalf of FAAN and subsequently remit an agreed percentage to FAAN’s account. The workers of the commercial department of FAAN were made to take over the control of ticket sales there.
The contractual agreement which expired in 2019 was signed between FAAN and the I-Cube management for the purpose of increasing the Internally Generated Revenue of the authority.
The unions have attributed their position to the fact that the responsibility of the management of the tollgate fell on the commercial department of FAAN even as they alleged that politicians had messed up the entire system through illegal concession of revenue points at the airports.
According to the Deputy National President of NUATE, Comrade Sarah Rindams, the FAAN workers have only come to recover back their revenue points saying though I-Cube had been remitting N68 million monthly to FAAN, but declared that there was the need for upward review.
It is not out of place for disagreement to occur between two parties in an agreement, but one obvious fact is that agreements are reached between two parties after the two sides must discussed and signed documents binding on both. Therefore, it becomes illegal for either side to upturn such agreements with reckless abandon.
The latest takeover of the access gate by FAAN has again gone to further dent the integrity and credibility of the Federal Government in the area of complying with agreements.
To say Nigeria’s government and many of its parastatal agencies are notorious for not honouring simple agreements is an understatement considering the many partnerships which government and its agencies had earlier signed but were jettisoned along the line.
The most guilty of this illegality is FAAN as witnessed in the numerous failed contractual agreements it earlier signed with many of its concessionaires which it cancelled recklessly. Among such agreements which had gone bad included: the embarrassing agreement it had with the operators of the MMA2 private terminal which has become a matter of litigation. A similar controversial agreement also existed between FAAN and Maevis which is also in court, this also brings to focus the bad deal between FAAN and AIC, a company owned by the business mogul, Chief Harry Akande. Besides these, there are many other failed agreements FAAN signed with other private companies that are hanging.
While all these failed contractual agreements had become matters of litigation, one would have expected that FAAN would have learnt its lessons in the way it treats its partners.
It is no longer news how this unstable attitude of FAAN towards agreements has greatly discredited the government and other private businesses before private investors both locally and on the foreign scene.
Private investors are no longer willing to do business with the government and the aviation sector on the excuse that such businesses may go down the drain overnight as government or the government organisations may choose to shift the goal post at will.
Some of the questions on the lips of many include: why FAAN always like to change the rules of such agreement after they have been signed and sealed; why were the officials responsible for negotiating these agreements on behalf of FAAN always fail to do their homework professionally before consenting to them, only to cry blue murder after the deals have been signed and with this stigma, does FAAN still think it has any credibility left to attract private investors. These and several questions deserve sincere answers.
There is an urgent need for government at the center to call FAAN to order otherwise this recklessness may be taken to mean that such illegalities have the backing of government and this will further discourage private investments.
The continuous violation of gentleman agreements by FAAN has left the affected concessionaires devastated as the huge fortunes they had sunk into such businesses have been wasted as FAAN chose to dash their hopes on the excuses that the agreements did not favour it.
Perhaps, government as a way of further saving its name may need to look into the competency of the FAAN officials negotiating these agreements on behalf of the authority. Above all, it has become pertinent to step in now to resolve the lingering controversial agreements as this will go a long way in giving the affected concessionaires a fair treatment. This becomes critical as government prepares to concession some airports in the country.