Only ICRC can approve airport concession, not ministry – Aviation Minister

Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika

Nigerian Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika has declared that it is the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) that has the mandate to approve the concession of the nation’s airports, not the ministry.

The minister, however, urged the organised labour not to mislead the public on airport concession and advised the union to urgently familiarise themselves with the workings of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

Siriki stated this in a press statement issued by the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu, on Thursday while reacting to the press statement issued by some members of The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), The Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), The Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), published by various media on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

The minister stressed that the Federal Ministry of Aviation does not approve infrastructure concession programmes as this role is independently played by ICRC.

According to him, “the ICRC is Nigeria’s regulatory agency responsible for regulating all infrastructure concessions and Public-Private-Partnerships in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Its processes and procedures are in the public domain and accessible to all.

 “We encourage all members of the above-mentioned associations to seek this information out themselves or ask their leaders to familiarise themselves with said, publicly available information, as soon as possible so as to avoid being misled by any individual or group of individuals associating with their respective associations”

Meanwhile, ICRC has approved and issued an Outline Business Case (OBC) Compliance Certificate for the further development of a concession programme or Public-Private-Partnership focused on the passenger and cargo terminals in four (4) airports only.

These airports are Murtala Mohammed International Airport – Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport – Abuja (International & Domestic), Port Harcourt Airport (International & Domestic) and Mallam Aminu Kano Airport (International & Domestic).

Sirika argued that those involved in the press statement ought to be familiar with what assets are included in “passenger and cargo terminals’ so as to stop misleading other members, the media and the general public. These assets do not include airside assets such as runways, navigational infrastructure or ground handling.

He also disclosed that the issue of procedural due diligence is entirely false and malicious to claim that the Ministry has in anyway single-handedly driven this process.

According to him, “aside from conceptualising this as a high-level opportunity in the very first instance, which itself was a response to the Governments Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as well as the aviation sector roadmap, which envisages a competitive aviation sector that contributes to Nigeria’s socio-economic development – the Ministry has from the very start worked in partnership with all relevant stakeholders within and outside of government, with the oversight of the ICRC and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP)”

” This concession programme’s Project Delivery Team (PDT), is the only PDT in the entire Nigerian Concession and Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) space comprised of key representatives of organised labour. This novel PDT structure championed by the Honourable Minister was specifically designed to ensure transparency, participation and accountability throughout the process”.

Recall that aviation labour unions have issued threats to the federal government over the approval it received from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to concession Nigeria’s four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

The unions insisted that government cannot protect the interest of the workers when the airports are conceded, adding that they could suffer what workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways whose personnel were not compensated for several years until the current administration paid severance package to those still alive and have not completed the payment.

The Ministry reiterated that the option of concession is an outcome of several months of rigour exercise involving world-class independent advisors and close stakeholder consultations. It is the most viable option given the realities and complexities the sector and indeed our socio-economic context confronts us with.

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