BASL ready to relinquish claim to GAT if… – Babalakin

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*L-R: Group executive director, Resort International, Mr. Luqman Balogun; chairman, Resort International/Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), Dr. Wale Babalakin; chairman, League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), Mr. Segun Koiki and head of business, Murtala Mohammed Airport 2 (MMA 2), Mr. Raph Uchegbu during the media briefing.

The Bi-Courtney Aviation Service Limited (BASL) has said that it was ready to renounce its claim of ownership of the general aviation terminal of at the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos if the federal government represented by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) was ready to pay compensation and arrears that had accumulated for over a 14-year period.

Chairman of BASL, Dr Wale Babalakin stated this at a media briefing held in Lagos on Friday.

Babalakin insisted that the GAT was part of the concession agreement the company signed with the federal government to construct and replace the old terminal that was razed in 2000.

“The GAT was handed over to us by the government but it (government) at the same time, decided to enhance it and compete with us. The worse that can happen to an investor is for your competitor to have government money to compete and it is totally wrong for the Authority to be competing in the same sphere.

“We have won the case at the arbitration, High Court, Appeal Court and at Supreme but the Authority is not just undermining the whole process but de-marketing Nigeria. We have agreed on everything but the only issue is GAT; we can’t let go because it is part of our concession agreement. It is unfortunate that people are just making mockery of Nigeria’s Jurisprudence,” he said.

However, Babalakin said BASL was not averse to out-of-court settlement but that such should be done fairly.

“Out-of-court settlement means doing things fairly. Yes, every agreement is subject to review. But a review should not be one-sided.

“If you want to review an agreement, the parties have to sit down to do it. We have been discussing with FAAN for 14 years. The only sore point is the GAT. We won’t let go of it. But if the government still wants to keep it, I can settle for compensation but the government has to pay me the arrears,” he added.

On the tenure of the concession, Babalakin said: “When we signed the agreement, we were expected to construct a N2 billion structure. When we came with an elaborate design, we were told to sit and discuss the tenure. We arrived at 36 years and then minister of aviation, Prof Babalola Borishade signed it, although we were asking for 45 years. There is no controversy about tenure of the concession. The records are there to see,” Babalakin said.

On the proposed concession of four international terminals at the Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja airports, Babalakin said the BASL was interested in the bid.

However, he said in some other climes apart from Nigeria the authorities would check the track records of those who had done it well and offer them the right of first refusal before opening the process.

He lamented that in the case of Nigeria, it is an open bid and queried the success rate of the foreign bidders that had shown interest in the bid.

However, he said: “BASL is interested in anything that is intelligent infrastructure development. I have had people say are you a business man? I am not a business man; I am a lawyer and an infrastructure developer. I don’t trade; I don’t import and export, what is my interest? Infrastructure development and that is where you find me.

“So we are interested but we are more interested in the process leading to the emergence and we believe that we are entitled to be given first option. In an organised country, we would be given the first option.

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