Why lawmakers should help bring back FG’s lost credibility in aviation

IT is absolutely right to describe the country’s aviation sector as problematic in view of the myriad of challenges tearing it apart with each of the challenges coming with its unique trouble that has been dragging the soul of the entire sector.

Often times, it sounds amazing when many interest groups in their arguments rush to blame the woes betiding the sector on issues like unimpressive domestic airline business, double taxations, unstable forex, lopsided air service agreements and many more.

While these and many more have contributed to the ruins of the entire sector, there are other critical issues that are dragging the fortunes of the sector down but are being relegated. One of such critical issue has to do with credibility  and transparency.

Without doubt, to many private investors from within and outside the country, there is a big question mark hanging on government’s credibility in particular when it comes to honouring business agreements.

The failure of government and its aviation agencies to comply with agreements has negatively affected the image of government and therefore, discouraged private investments.

It is no longer news how foreign investors are avoiding doing businesses with the domestic carriers and even the government agencies out of the fear of being messed up with their investments going down the drain based on flimsy excuses.

This questionable credibility which becomes painful based on its retrogressive impact on the sector with the best investment potential opportunities and attractions it parades, brings to the fore again the unresolved controversial business agreements signed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on behalf of the federal government with some private investors.

Most of these agreements which were signed by FAAN and the representatives of the private investors with cheers and smiles have become subjects of litigation with FAAN suddenly waking up to question the agreements after such have been signed and sealed.

Among such messy agreements are: the MMA2, a private terminal being managed by the Bi-Courtney Air Services Limited (BASL) owned by the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Wale Babalakin.

Others include: the Chief Harry Akande’s AIC which initially signed an agreement with FAAN to construct a world class five star hotel at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport; an agreement which was sadly turned down after it was signed and sealed.

The controversial concessions of Maevis Nigeria Limited, a private company FAAN concessioned to manage the Airport Operations Management System which was abruptly put to an end over controversial agreement is also one.

It will still be recalled how the eight senate threatened not to approve any budget to the sector over several imbroglio with private investors.

The then Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatization, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce after leading other committee members on tour of MMA2 facilities, had declared that he would lobby other Senators in the Senate to ensure that aviation industry got zero allocation in 2017 budget.

Unfortunately, while nothing good came out of the promise, the controversy still lingers on unresolved with the private investors left unprotected by the sane government preaching Public Private Partnership while the sector remains the loser.

As long as these controversial concessions remain unresolved in the sector, any efforts being made by government or anyone may not achieve better purpose as no private investors under the present situation will be willing to put his money into any business in the sector.

It is hoped that the ninth National Assembly led by its Senate and House Committees on aviation will help to resolve these problems to pave the way for private investments.