By LAWANI MIKAIRU
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika yesterday assured the workers of Aero Contractors Airline that the federal government will do everything within its power to prevent the airline from dying and the workers loosing their jobs, as the government will restructure the airlines.
Senator Hadi Sirika gave the assurance when he addressed workers of the airline who occupied its headquarters at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Friday.
He told the workers that the federal government would make sure that the problems plaguing the airline was solved, noting that it is the responsibility of government to create jobs and therefore would not allow any business concern to die under its watch.
The Minister told the protesting workers that he would meet with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the management of Aero Contractors to discuss some of the challenges facing the airline and get back to the workers on Monday.
“I landed from Riyadh to Lagos and before I left Riyadh I was informed by the people in charge in Aero that things were getting worse and they have only one airplane operational at the moment and I said to myself since I have time between my flight to Lagos and connecting one to Abuja, I decided to come and see Aero and probably discuss a few issues with the managers and possibly see the staff, but unfortunately I came here and saw that there is a protest going on, so I had to stop by, listened, discussed and came to an agreement.”
“The primary purpose of government, especially this APC government is to help to promote, nurse, sustain, develop, keep businesses so that they can continue to provide services and employ our people, so it is not the government of APC that will kill jobs and close down shops; our intent is to promote jobs and promote businesses in Nigeria so that businesses will be growing,” the Minister said.
Sirika also told the workers that they have the right to protest because they could not just be relieved of their jobs, so he assured them that government must resolve the issues concerning the airline to have it back on track.
“I think the protest is justifiable and I agree with the issues raised, but we will look into it and come up with a solution that will be mutually beneficial to all of us both the staff, the company and government itself.
I have appealed to the staff and they have agreed that we will reconvene here on Monday and listen to each other and also develop a road map and agree on what to do to rejuvenate the airline, being a premier company in this country,” the Minister said.
He further said that although AMCON took over the airline because of the toxic loans it owed banks, but “I think what is going on now started sometime ago. The reason why AMCON came to rescue Aero Contractors or any other business was due to the wisdom of the government of the past and we respect that wisdom and because AMCON is constitutionally established by the Act of Parliament to take this responsibility, but in doing this job we must look at the fundamentals.”
“So if there is a problem of this nature we must look and find out what is happening. We are aware of the problem of the legacy, we are aware of the management problems and we are aware of where the planes are and we are also aware of what has been going on with maintenance. So we will try to resolve these problems,” Sirika added.