The controversy trailing the proposed concession of four international airports by the Federal Government took another dimension yesterday following revelations that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) owes contractors over N140bn.
This is coming barely a week after FAAN pensioners under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), FAAN Branch, warned prospective bidders over huge indebtedness by FAAN.
- ‘Medical doctors should seek alternative to strike’
- APC states to allocate 15% annual budget to health sector
Daily Trust reports that the planned concession has been causing uneasy calm in the sector despite assurances by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, that the government has good intentions with the concession.
But the federal government pushed the proposal to the crescendo penultimate Monday when it placed advertorial inviting local and international bidders to apply to take over the management of the four airports.
These are the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Malam Aminu Kano Airport, Kano and Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State.
But since the bidding was made public, stakeholders have expressed fears over what becomes of FAAN when its most viable airports were given out to private entities.
For the contractors which delivered various projects for FAAN, their worry is about offsetting their contract Bill running into over N140bn.
They said they also secured bank facilities to do the jobs with high interest rates.
The contractors said they have written several letters to the authority and the Minister but their plea is yet to be hearkened to, noting that the debts have been piling up since 2018.
One of the contractors who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “We have written letters to the FAAN management twice with no response. We have engaged him one on one. At times, they will tell us that the Director of Finance would speak with us. We are yet to know exactly what is happening.
“They have not owed us for jobs executed until 2018 all through to COVID-19 pandemic. These debts have piled up since 2018.”
On the part of the pensioners, in an advertorial placed by the NUP, FAAN branch, and signed by the association’s secretary, Emeka Njoku, prospective bidders were warned of the indebtedness of the agency, saying this might cripple operations without any intervention from government.
When contacted, spokesperson of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu appealed for patience and understanding, saying, “FAAN is yet to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
She did not however confirm the actual amount of indebtedness to the contractors.