AM EDITORIAL: Yes! Review The Agreements! Address Their Issues

Speaking in an interview on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme held on January 31, 2024, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, Barrister Festus Keyamo (SAN) said that by virtue of being a lawyer overseeing the aviation industry, he was committed to ensuring that the sector moved forward without being held down by controversies from some agreements signed in the past.

“In his words: “No unworkable agreement will hold me down.”

We applaud the Minister for this position, which is an indication of a dedication to the assignment of taking Nigeria’s aviation industry to the next level. We equally wish to nudge the Honourable Minister on, and encourage him to review the various agreements that have been signed in the past, some of which have been skewed against Nigeria’s interest, cancel those that need to be cancelled if possible, and adjust the terms of those that deserve such reviews.

Some of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with other countries have worked in favour of such countries especially at the level of implementation. They need to be reviewed as soon as possible. Some have posed a great challenge to the growth of local airline operations. There is a need to review the open skies agreement while the multiple entry points designation to some foreign airlines need to be reviewed.

The type of agreements that have over the years, made Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) talk about taking delivery of safety critical equipments only when such equipments have gone obsolete should be reviewed.

It is equally time to resolve the issues associated with the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) concession agreement between Federal Government’s Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of MMA2. To encourage more Public Private Partnership (PPP) investments in the sector and attract more local and foreign direct investments, outstanding lingering issues have to be resolved.

It is actually embarrassing to the country that the terms of and packages in such critical agreements generated the controversies it generated in the journey of implementation.

The terminal epitomizes the first successful Public, Private Partnership (PPP) in the aviation industry, inaugurated in May, 2007 by the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. We must admit that the MMA2 Terminal initiative has since inception been beneficial to air travelers and to Nigeria as a country.

Air travellers have even described the terminal as the best managed airport terminal in Nigeria. Most domestic airlines have also commended the terminal and its facilities that have helped them ease operations. However, controversies around the deal must be addressed.

All the hanging questions should be answered. Today, what exactly is the status on the duration of operation before transfer back to FAAN (36 or 12 years)? When is the exact timeline for the transfer of this terminal back to FAAN? What has been BASL’s exact passenger and revenue target from that terminal since inception? What is the current status? What is the expectation? Will regional flights by domestic operators actually be hosted by the terminal? Did the agreement originally permit this or it has been reviewed? Clarity is needed. Stakeholders need a joint update from both parties with input from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

According to Premium Times in “a Deed of Lease dated February 17, 1998, FAAN leased parcels of land at Murtala Mohammed Airport in Ikeja to AIC Limited for a term of 50 years for the sole purpose of developing a flight path hotel and resort complex. However, by a letter dated May 16, 2000, FAAN directed AIC to refrain from work on the hotel development and prevented it from proceeding with the construction of the hotel and resort as planned. An arbitration panel headed by late Justice Kayode Esho was set up to resolve the concerns.”

We gathered that the case moved to a British court. From there, it came back to the Federal High Court in Lagos, from where it went to the supreme court. The controversies surrounding this litigation needs to be resolved under the current administration, especially now that the Minister is talking about a masterplan development for Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

A comprehensive review of all agreements and litigations that have been holding Nigeria’s aviation industry down and resolution of controversies around them will be a remarkable achievement for Festus Keyamo if this is realized during his tenure as Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development. Above all, the industry will be better for it.

Spread the love
Avatar photo

Albinus Chiedu

Albinus Chiedu is a journalist, aviation media consultant, events management professional, and author. He has practiced journalism since 2000.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *