May 30, 2023

Nigeria Transport Hub

…the epicentre for all transport modes

Meet legal ICON who drafted FAAN, BASL concession agreement; NPA, its concessionaires

9 min read

Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal Two, MMA2, Ikeja, Lagos. A Model in Terminal Functionality. Has Never Experienced Darkness, 15 Years Down The Line.

Contrary to the rumour milling industry in Nigeria, especially on critical national issues that concern the social, economy and security of the nation, it is very advisable not to be quick at jumping to conclusions.

Experience has also proved that taken in line and sinker notions that seem most plausible, could unwittingly pitch someone against the truth. Such a popular notion is oftentimes described as gaining traction and as such, a good number of opinion moulders would fall for it and unwittingly continue to spread fallacy, half-truth or at best, unfounded rumour as the truth. An unwitting contrivance of error.

A terrain that has a long chain of people with diverse occupations but which the industry in which they prosper is such that encapsulate people of different skills and bringing them to work harmoniously breeds charlatans at different points of the chain.

The air transport industry rightly fit into this figurative “babariga” one is trying to sew here. In the aviation industry, you find people of all sorts holding their ground in diverse spheres of the air transport value chain.

PROF Oluwole Akanle

Each aspect of the value chain requires expertise and trained personnel. And we have men and women certified and licensed to offer their various services.

From those who clean the aircraft, make the aircraft’s lavatory hygienic enough for passengers’ comfort, to those handling your luggage, are all offering critical service at that aspect of the chain.

Others by their training conduct different types of checks on the aircraft. Some, just by walking around the bird before it takes off and listening to the engine sound could tell of the health of the machine. Others by merely casting a look on the landing gear can predict its serviceability. Yet there are others who compute the total weight of all luggage dumped in the aircraft cargo hold. And it’s the duty of others to arrange those luggages properly to make for load balancing.

There are others licensed to care for passengers in the cabin. They pass safety information to passengers. They Attend to all your needs throughout the duration of the flight.

There are others that the cockpit is more of their place of abode than their living rooms where their family members are kept. They actually do the flying and they often have engineers accompanying them. No matter the skill and the dexterity of the licensed professional in the cockpit, he/she cannot operate successfully all on his/her own.

Right: Prof. Oluwole Akanle with his elder sister

Hence, the cockpit crew at regular intervals maintain contact with another set of professionals whose tasks are discharged from a rooftop called the control tower. As professionals, guys at the tower provide safety-critical information and directives to the guys manning the cockpit. The list is far from being exhausted.

Who among the people that discharge all these tasks mentioned above is alien to the modus operandi of air transport? Mention has not been made of those that sell the seats on the aircraft. Others just plan the routes. Some attend to the potential passenger desirous of purchasing flight tickets and help arrange flights through different continents for business meetings, academic/research purposes or leisure.

Can any air transport-related information from any of these groups identified above be easily waved aside? Moreover, when they are all and rightly deemed as experts or professionals in aviation. A lonely voice likely mouthing the truth may not easily enjoy listening hear. And when the few who listened are those not prospecting anywhere in aviation, their held beliefs could easily be jettisoned when a person or group of persons perceived as aviation professionals canvass a counter view.

This likely is the dilemma Dr Wale Babalakin, a barrister at law, a senior member at the bar and the Chairman, Bicourtney Aviation Services Limited, BASL, may likely have been subjected for about 14 years now. There has been a recurring furore of various dimensions about the entire process of the concession that granted him the preferred bidder of the Murtala Mohammed Airport Second Domestic Terminal, MMA2, and as such, its management.

Prof. Akanle engrosses with his mobile phone

By the general public’s mindset, even when the truth of some matters emanates from Bicourtney, people are wont to dismiss with a wave of the hand.

Some players in the Nigerian aviation sector of the national economy and a preponderant percentage of the general public had the general notion that eliciting any information on MMA2/FAAN agreement from anyone with a link to BASL is like approaching someone who is a judge and accuser in his own matter.

Ask what was the basis of this view? They easily cited various court cases that BASL had won against its principals, FAAN and the federal government, as proof that every material particular statement and clause in the concession agreement were designed by the person of barrister Wale Babalakin.

And to shore up this position of theirs, especially from people of my generation and those a little older, had severally reminded one of the exploits of the greatest legal luminary Nigeria ever had and whose records in court victories especially on knotty constitutional issues are yet to be matched, the legendary, barrister Oluwole Rotimi Williams, a revered Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN. A.K.A. Timi the law.

They reasoned that Chief Rotimi Williams as a member of the constitution drafting committee in 1976, when the military was seemingly flagging off the paraphernalia for returning governance over to a democratically elected government, had implanted technicalities that would require interpretations in the temple of justice sooner or later.

Friends and acquaintances cast my mind to events leading to the emergence of the second republic and what actually transpired during the second democratic dispensation from 1978 when General Olusegun Obasanjo blew the whistle for politicking till-1984 when Gen Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idi-Agbon aborted the democratic dispensation.

Easily they recalled some of the tumultuous legal battles in the interpretation of the simple majority votes needed before a candidate could be declared the winner. There emerged the phrase still very much discussed in law classes, the thorny riddle of two-thirds of nineteen, as simple majority.

Although in this instance, the legal team of Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide, also a member of the constitution drafting committee, got the court victory for his party, the National Party of Nigeria, NPN. Chief Rotimi Williams, G.O.K. Ajayi, Abraham Adesanya, were often the cynosure of all eyes on major battles held in the courts. Hence the notion of tagging some of them with implanting not a few technicalities in the constitution drafted that few of them and those in their class in legal wizardry did exploit.

In a similar vein, under the present dispensation, a wide spectrum of interest groups in aviation and the business community outside aviation are wont to believe that barrister Wale Babalakin’s input must largely be included in the concession agreement.

This notion spread like a wild bushfire but the slight difference to this is that it spreads in an undertone and through words of mouth among close friends and associates until it becomes a widely spread rumour. It gained so much traction in the rumour mill. Like the Yorubas are wont to say, the person concerned in a matter is often deaf to it (oloro a bi eti didi.) This implies barrister Wale Babalakin and his team might be oblivious of such heinous rumour.

Others would mouth it with all confidence that the legal agreement could never have emanated from the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN or the Ministry of Aviation but from the bedroom of barrister Wale Babalakin.

Prof Akanle and his wife at a social function

Likely the rumour about the legal agreement which some severally dubbed as “the hand is the hand of Esau but the voice is the voice of Jacob”, had likely got to the hearing of the Chairman, BASL, barrister Wale Babalakin, who himself is all ears, and as board chairman of a news medium, Africa Now magazine, must be on top of the news mill because, I have witnessed few public functions where without any prompting, he announced the name of the legal draftsman for the airport concession between FAAN and BASL.

At the most recent forum in November 2021, in which management of BASL hosted members of the League of Aviation and Airports Correspondents, LAAC, Dr Wale Babalakin reiterated for the umpteenth time that one Professor Akanle drafted the concession agreement between FAAN and BASL.

That announcement finally fired the news hound instinct in this narrator. The name mentioned was an assigned task and a good lead to finding about the revered Professor of law whose footprint in the legal profession is very large and on the sand of time.

Pieces of information were fed into the “GPRS” to locate where Professor Akanle is presently located. And to find out first hand who is Prof Akanle. Feelers from our radar beacon led to a further spirited search for Professor Akanle, a barrister at law.

An interview session with professor Akanle revealed his numerous exploits in the legal profession. He is no doubt a colossus in the teaching of law, legal draftsmanship, management of legal institutions and in management of a commercial law firm and consultancy.

Professor Oluwole Akanle had served the nation on legal issues at various levels and on numerous spheres of the national economy.

Professor Akanle said he drafted the legal agreement for the concession of the second domestic terminal of Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA2, Ikeja, Lagos. He said the agreements by the Nigeria Port Authority to its concessionaires were also drafted by him as he served the federal government on national and international legal issues in nearly all the sectors of the economy.

Professor Oluwole Akanle, retired from the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies as Professor of Law and Coordinator of Research. He specializes in Taxation, commercial, investment and environmental law. He had taught and practised law for over 20 years. He is currently the Director-General of the Centre for Law and Development Studies a leading continuing professional education outfit and the managing partner of Oluwole Akanle & Co.

2nd right; Prof. Akanle. First left, son and Prof’s nieces

Key Specialist Qualifications and Experience
* He Was the Solicitor-General of the Federal and Director-General Federal Ministry of Justice (September 1992 – September 1993)
*He Was the Special Assistant to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (July 1986 – December 1988)
*Had in the past 20 years been actively involved in the preparation and drafting of important commercial and investment legislation in Nigeria, principal among which are:
-Privatization and Commercialization Decree 1988 as well as its successor, the Bureau of Public Enterprises Decree 1993
-Securities and Exchange Commission Decree 1998 and the SEC Regulations
-Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market Decree 1986
-Bankruptcy (Amendment) Decree 1992
-Civil Service Re-Organization Decree 1988
-Nigerian Export Credit Guarantee and Insurance Corporation Decree (now NEXIM) 1988
-Industrial Development Co-Ordination Decree 1988
-National Shipping Policy Decree 1987
-Nigerian Airports Authority (Amendment) Decree 1993
-Also served as the coordinator for the Federal Ministry of Justice for the Consultative Assembly for the Reform of Company Law the eventual midwife of the Companies and Allied Matter Decree 1990
*Also served as leader and member of Federal Government delegation to several international commercial and financial negotiations. These include:
-Negotiation of the 1986/87 Debt Rescheduling between Nigeria and the London Club of Commercial Bank Creditors and Paris Club of Official Creditors
-Negotiation of the Construction Contract for the Nigerian UN mission Building in New York (Head of Delegation)
-Negotiation of the Lease Management Agreement between the Nigerian/Benin Republic Joint Ventures (Save Sugar Company and Onigbolo Cement Company
*Served as a member, Technical Committee for the Privatization of the Nigerian/Benin Republic Joint Venues
*Deputy Head of Delegation for the Negotiation of 2nd Fertilizer Plant for Nigeria with Kellogg
*Served as Member, Drafting Committee on the National Construction Policy for Nigeria (1988)
*Was Professor of Law Senior Research Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies; University of Lagos Campus, Lagos (July 1982 – June 1992)
*Served as Consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in preparing the draft Protocol on Industry to be Annexed to the African Economy Community Treaty (1991 – 1992)
*Was the co-ordinator for Nigeria in the UNCTC/UNDP program of assistance to the Government of Nigeria on capacity building in the Negotiation of International Agreement (1987 – 1988), and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) correspondent for Nigeria (1994 – date)

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