A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Wale Babalakin, has accused the Federal Government of disrespecting the rule of law, saying this is partly responsible for why the country continues to wallow in an economic quagmire.
According to him, the government’s penchant for disobeying court orders is scaring off many prospective investors.
Babalakin, who is the Pro-chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Lagos, was quoted, in a statement on Sunday, to have said this during the 2018 Construction Summit organised by the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, UNILAG on Friday.
He chaired the summit with the theme, “Smart Infrastructure for Sustainable Competitiveness.”
According to him, the belief that Nigeria is a wealthy country is false, pointing out that N2.2tn out of the N9tn in the 2018 budget is for debt servicing, while only N2.7tn is earmarked for capital expenditure.
Babalakin said the Federal Government had found it impossible to finance critical infrastructures to create an enabling environment for investment.
Talking about FG’s disrespect for the rule of law, the SAN cited his personal experience on the concessioning of the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2, which was built and is managed by one of his companies, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited.
He said 11 years after the concession agreement was signed, a government agency continued to violate the terms of the agreement by running a parallel domestic aviation terminal in competition with MMA2.
Babalakin said it was sad that the government failed to adhere to the rule of law despite various court judgments and the award of N132bn as damages against it in 2009.
He said, “Instead of putting pressure on the government to honour the contract agreement, the banks started harassing us to pay their money.
“In the first six quarters, we were repaying N1.8bn per quarter to the banks and we were generating N300m. We were losing N1.5bn every three months and we had no public sympathy.
“So, we went to court and the ruling was in our favour. So, when AMCON came after us, we said you are an agent of the Federal Government and those messing up our transaction are agents of the Federal Government. We took the two of them to court and the court ruled in our favour and told AMCON to go and collect its money from the Federal Government.
“MMA2 is over 10 years now and nobody has managed to build a similar terminal. This shouldn’t be the case. For every project you hinder unlawfully, 12 will not come in and the country will not develop.”
He also shared his experience on the acquisition of the abandoned Federal Secretariat Complex in Ikoyi, Lagos, by his company, Resort International Limited.
He said, “After acquiring the property, we started developing it and pre-sold half of the flats we were putting up there at a knock-down price because we were reluctant to borrow money.”
Source: Punch Newspaper