Aviation unions issue 7 days ultimatum to minister to halt airport concessions, demolition

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Workers and unions in the Nigerian aviation industry early Thursday morning issued the minister of aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika, a seven-day ultimatum to halt the planned concession of some airports in the country and the intended demolition of three aviation agencies.

The aviation agencies planned for demolition are the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), while airports in Lagos, Kano, Abuja, and Port Harcourt were penciled down for concession in the first phase of the exercise.

The unions involved are the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP).

The grouse: In the early morning congress held on Thursday at Freedom Square within the headquarters of FAAN, the unions insisted that the planned projects of the minister came short of transparency and would not be allowed to stand.

  • According to them, the government was yet to address the labor issues as agreed upon during the conception of the projects and cautioned the successful bidders from putting pen to paper, especially on the airport concession.
  • Speaking on behalf of others, Comrade Ocheme Aba, the general secretary, of NUATE, feared that the aviation roadmap may become an “aviation mishap” if not quickly nipped in the bud by the unions.
  • He explained that none of the six aviation roadmaps, promised by Sirika had been delivered by the government in the seven years and wondered why the government was bent on implementing these projects barely six months to the end of this administration.
  • The projects were the establishment of a national carrier, maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO), aircraft leasing company, agro-allied airports, aerotropolis, and concessioning of Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt airports.

He added, “To be clear, we agree that these projects are vital for the good health of the industry. That the current administration does not own the credit for conceptualizing these projects, and that the aviation road map has been a recurrent theme in the aviation ministry for as long as one can call to mind underscores the relevance of these projects to the improvement of the Nigerian aviation industry.

  • “Truth be told, the fact that these projects remain undelivered to this day is an attestation to the tardiness of successive federal regimes over the years. This means our unions will join other Nigerians to celebrate the delivery of the roadmap.
  • “But, we have the course to seriously worry about the manner of delivery. More crucially, we are concerned about whether what is being delivered is actually what Nigerians crave. That is the crux of the matter.”

Also speaking, Comrade Danuja Ahmed, chairperson, of ATSSSAN, FAAN branch, described the planned demolition of the three agencies as a rude shock to the workers.

  • He insisted that the unions would resist every attempt to demolish the buildings for aerotropolis project as propagated by the minister.
  • Ahmed also emphasized that the planned concession of the four airports by the government was lacking in transparency, lamenting that none of the demands of the unions were accommodated by the government.
  • “Our position is clear; no concession will be concluded until all labor issues are concluded.
  • “We have our Plan B. This is the time for us to activate our Plan B and we will do it henceforth,” he said.

Besides, Comrade Ben Nnabue, president, of NUATE, alleged that the minister was playing politics with the lives of aviation workers and by extension the lives of Nigerians.

  • He described the aviation industry as very sensitive to the development of any economy, stressing that its activities involved the lives of humans.

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