For city lawyer and Senior Advocate Dr. Wale Babalakin, the tide is not very favourable for him, as there are ominous signs that his consortium, Bi-Courtney may face eviction from the domestic wing of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, MM2, if what is at our disposal is anything to go by.
There are very strong allegations that Wale Babalakin tampered with the memorandum of agreement which conceded the project handling of the MM2 to him years back. In the alleged doctoring of the agreement, Babalakin through his consortium and accomplices in the aviation ministry are said to have blocked other investors from further investing in the airport, claiming that no other business activity must take place within five (5) kilometer radius to the MM2.
Again, it was alleged that at a time Wale Babalakin’s Bi Courtney blocked its landlord, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN), from operating officially at MM2, a situation which led to a stiff face-off between the two parties. The face-off actually originated from Bi Courtney’s refusal of FAAN to collect service charges which Bi Courtney claimed to be the eligible collector of the service charges.
According to our investigations, the several manipulations of the MOU by Babalakin started with the alleged extension of years of operation of the MM2 from 15 to 30 years and further construction of a hotel which have been stalled for sometime now. Recall that Babalakin’s construction company Stabilini Visinoni Ltd, SVL had single-hand constructed the MM2 and was carrying out that of the hotel when trouble brewed.
From the foregoing, we exclusively gathered that the aviation ministry now considers the agreement to be very lopsided and apparently hinders progress of the industry.
Going by runnings of the airport, the aviation ministry inside sources hinted this magazine that maintaining of the airport and keeping the infrastructure up to date are still lacking and very appalling, even as these are not being adequately addressed as they exist in modern airports of the world.
Suffice it to say that with all the inadequacies involved in the Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT agreement between Babalakin’s firm and FAAN, the Federal Ministry of Aviation is now seeking to revisit the agreement and afterwards quit him (Babalakin) from the MM2. The first step in this direction is for FAAN to go to the stock exchange, get listed and summarily pay Babalakin off; after which the project will now be run normally like a public-quoted company with shareholders having substantial interest in the entity.
In a similar development, it will be recalled that sometime ago, there was an attempt by the Gbongan-born Senior Advocate and son of retired Supreme Court Judge, to close down the General Aviation Terminal, GAT by his company, Bi-Courtney, saying ARIK airline must patronize MM2, a situation which led to forcing Virgin Nigeria to leave Nigeria, when its seemingly flourishing operations were being daily disrupted at the International wing of the MMA.
A competent source at the ministry said the new aviation minister was miffed and apparently shocked with the details of the agreement said to have been entered into with Bi-Courtney, saying it was extremely unfavourable and exploitative of tax payers.
Be all these as they may, it was said that the MM2 project has actually been a source of problem from inception. The bidding for the project was said to have been initially won by Sanderton Ventures, owned by one Segun fagbemi, a sugar merchant, only for the bidding originally won by Sanderton to be heavily criticized on the strength of the fact that Sanderton had no experience in construction of that magnitude; and further more, the company which bidded the lowest, ZACHEM was not even considered. Not only that, the original design of the airport that was given by the aviation ministry was later changed by Sanderton to a cheaper design of tent-like, which is a replica of the Stansted Airport in UK.
Against all these damning allegations against Dr. Wale Babalakin, it is only a matter of time for Bi-Courtney to pack out of the MM2 with ignominy after the Federal Ministry of Aviation must have put its act together to get rid of Babalakin and his cohorts who have daily been exploiting people and users of the MM2. The learned man, Babalakin, has been in the eye of the storm for sometime now, following an unpaid loan he secured from a bank to execute the project, and which led to the seizure of some of his plum properties like high-rise buildings and other landed properties in Lagos. It will indeed be a sad story of falling from grace to grass by Wale Babalakin, a King’s College old student; University of Lagos trained lawyer and a PhD holder in law from Cambridge University.