ISSUES IN FAAN, MAEVIS CONCESSION PACT
ONE issue that dominated aviation media in the past one year is the controversy between the Federal Airports Authority (FAAN) and its biggest concessionaire, Maevis Nigeria Limited.
Just last week, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke invited the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to investigate the allegations leveled against Maevis Aviation Services Limited over allegation of withholding N17 billion belonging to the FAAN.
Before now, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), had invited the unions, FAAN, Maevis and other parties involved in the issue to appear before it with a view to resolving the imbroglio.
In a communiquÃ© issued at the end of the meeting held on December 20, 2010 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, the labour unions, NUATE and ATSSSAN, in conjunction with the ICRC resolved that transparent efforts should be made by the ICRC to facilitate the review of some of the concession contracts in the sector.
They agreed that buy out or termination in the case of Maevis should be the solution to the problem, just as they accepted that an aviation blue print should be in place for long term planning and infrastructure development.
There were indications that the Managing Director of Maevis, Mr. Tunde Fagbemi might have been quizzed by the anti graft agency over the matter that has almost brought aviation to its kneels.
The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) had met with the Ministers of Justice, Aviation and Labour and Productivity over the parlous state of the agency, occasioned by non remittance of money collected on FAAN's behalf by the concessionaire.
The directive was given in a statement held between the unions in the aviation industry and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Muhammed Bello Adoke, Ministers of Aviation, Fidelia Njeze, Labour and Productivity Mr. Emeka Wogu on December 20, 2010 in Abuja.
In a statement that was jointly signed by Adoke, Njeze, Wogu, Secretary General of NUATE, Gideon Ogbuji, General Secretary of ATSSSAN, Frank Sunny Aiyede and the Assistant General Secretary of NAAPE, Umoh Ofonime Tom and made available to The Guardian, they noted that it was necessary for government to review the agreement to save FAAN from its present financial difficulty.
The minister of Justice and Njeze however stated that if there were specific labour issues, they asked the unions to make a presentation to the minister of Labour and Productivity on such issues, just as they urged the unions to maintain the peace to allow 'this process achieve desired result'.
The unions had threatened to picket Maevis if the issue of concessions in the aviation industry was not resolved, just as they claimed that Maevis had reneged and flouted all the aspects of the agreement entered into between the parties.
There were claims and counter claims recently over whether Maevis Nigeria Limited was indebted to it to the tune of N17 billion or not after some members of ATSSSAN protested at the airport.
It would be recalled that FAAN is in a serious financial difficulty over allegations that Maevis had shortchanged it to the tune of over N17 billion. Maevis has however denied the allegation and asked FAAN to stop crying wolf where there is none, adding that its platform was open to scrutiny.
But the unions armed with document challenged Maevis to do so, brandishing document on 'how we have been defrauded for a long time by one of our concessionaires'.
A document from the aviation firm tagged, 'Maevis revenue generated and collection from August to December 2008', reveal that the agency generated N4.1 billion and another $1.7 million (N255 million), but was able to collect N3.3billion and $1.1 million.
Between January 2009 to December 2009, Maevis according to the statistics generated N11.2 billion and another $2.8 million, while it was able to collect N10.8 billion and another $2.9 million.
For 2010 remittances, the unions said that there were discrepancies, which they alleged, clearly showed that the firm 'could no longer be trusted'.
They said that they wanted outright review, which seemed to have gone down well with the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Anyim Udeh who stated that in the course of its investigation, 'we discovered that one issue clearly related to this incident is the huge debt owed FAAN by this concessionaire.'
The debt burden, he said, had virtually crippled FAAN as the service provider was unable to adequately provide services and rehabilitate the infrastructural facilities at our airports, including Murtala Muhammed International Airport constructed over thirty years ago.
He disclosed that the latest figures made available to the committee showed, 'the total debt owed to FAAN is N17, 939,543, 233.'
The debts, he said, could be divided into six. He listed them as airlines: N9, 266, 459, 324, management concessionaires N4, 747, 163, 917, handling companies N1, 757,362,787, government agencies N562, 52,288, oil marketers N433, 336, 758.
He decried alleged interference in the collection process by management and those he described as highly placed government officials, adding that FAAN workers were said to be often discouraged, threatened and sometimes their appointments terminated by management and government officials for insisting on recovering debts owed to FAAN.