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Senators Lambast Buhari, Call for Review of ‘Hasty’ and ‘Dubious’ Airport Concessions

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ABUJA, Nigeria — Former President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration came under intense scrutiny in the Nigerian Senate on Thursday, July 6, 2023, as the lawmakers criticized the recent concession of Aminu Kano International Airport and others, made hastily in the final week of Buhari’s tenure.

Senators vehemently condemned the concession of the Aminu Kano International Airport, asserting that it wasn’t in the public’s interest.

They urged the Federal Government to review the entire exercise, suggesting it wasn’t conducted fairly or transparently.

Senator Suleiman A. Kawu Sumaila (Kano South) sponsored the motion titled, “Urgent Need to Reverse the Concessioning of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.”

He argued that the Federal Ministry of Aviation doesn’t own or operate any airport in Nigeria, and thus, the authority to transfer the management of airports lies with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Senator Sumaila expressed concern over the rationale behind borrowing and spending public money to upgrade the airport, only to concede it to foreign businesses for a period of 30 years. He deemed the concession “dubious,” questioning the process and potential gains for the actors involved.

Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP Kebbi) called for an inquiry into the concessioning deal, labeling the process as “half hazard” and “dubious.”

He suggested the establishment of a Senate committee to investigate the circumstances under which the Kano Airport was concessioned.

If the committee finds the concession does not comply with the Infrastructure Concession Commission’s regulations, Senator Aliero recommends that the concession be revoked.

Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) lamented that government agencies and officials involved in recent concessions and privatizations took advantage of Buhari’s “passiveness” as a leader.

He urged his colleagues to refrain from politicizing the issue and called for the establishment of a committee to review all hasty concessions and privatizations made towards the end of Buhari’s administration.

Sani Musa (Niger East) denounced the concessioning process, stating that international best practices were neglected.

He demanded a comprehensive evaluation of the concession and called for transparency in the process. Similarly, Rufai Hanga (NNPP, Kano Central) demanded the reversal of the concessions so the airports can be brought back into service.

Despite the heated debate, Deputy Senate President Jibrin Barau defended the practice of concession, referring to it as a global standard.

However, he agreed that there should be an overarching investigation into the concessions.

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