By G9ija

An umbrella body for the 61 investors that secured different development lease agreements from the Federal Government through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Trade Fair Management Board have petitioned the government against the planned concession of the Lagos International Trade Fair complex on Lagos Badagry Expressway.

This was disclosed in a statement titled ‘Sixty-one investors reject concession plan of Lagos Trade Fair complex by BPE’, issued by the President, Association of Progressive Traders in the complex, Chief Eric Ilechukwu, on Sunday.

It recalled that recently, the Bureau of Public Enterprises issued a statement that it would showcase investment opportunities in Lagos Trade Fair complex, TBS, Calabar and Kano Special Economic Zones to the investing public in a webinar in Abuja.

The statement said after submitting a protest letter to the Executive Director of TFMB, the APT president, said “It is worrisome that the same Federal Government that had entered into different development lease agreements with 61 of us at different times is coming back to the same complex it has leased out to concession.

“It is important to make this clarification to the general public that the Federal Government had from 1995 till recently been leasing out portions of the complex to our members and none of the development lease agreements runs less than 25 years. In fact, some are 45 years with an option of renewal.”

He added, “Currently, what can be said to be remaining or yet to be leased out is about 20 or 25 per cent of the complex. So, we are saying that as far as our different lease terms are still running and valid in law, what the Bureau of Public Enterprises has for concessioning is only the undeveloped portion.

“All 61 of us have never reneged on our lease agreements and we all are up to date in paying our grand rent directly to the Federal Government’s Single Treasury Account through the supervising TFMB.

“Also, having demonstrated resilience in developing over 75 per cent of the complex to a world class shopping and business centre, we use this opportunity to equally tell the BPE that we are ready to take up the remaining undeveloped areas.

“Since 1995 to date, our members have invested not less than N10tn in the development of the complex to world class business centre with borrowed money and we cannot allow our sweat to be suddenly snatched away from us in the name of concession.”

“Any plan to turn us, the key developers in the complex as at today to tenants upon securing legitimate lease agreements and borrowing from banks to develop a hitherto abandoned federal asset into the largest single trading complex in sub-Saharan Africa, shall be resisted at by all legal means,” the statement added.