By Adeola Badru
IBADAN Airport workers under the umbrella body of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE) on Monday, staged a peaceful protest within the premises of Ibadan Airport over the Federal Government’s plan to concession four International airports in the country.
Members of the two unions and representatives of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) carried placards bearing various inscriptions such as ”Airport concession lacks transparency”, “Nigeria rise against siege on our common patrimony”, “job loss looms in the aviation industry “, and “FAAN pay our pension liabilities.”
Other inscriptions read: “Our airports are undervalued,” ” Federal Government, please resolve MM2 concession,” “Airport concession a threat to aviation industry,” “Chinese loan repayment threatened by concession ” and “selective concession ploy to destroy FAAN.”
Speaking at the event, Mr Oyewole Olayade, Chairman of ATSSSAN, who spoke on behalf of the unions, said the peaceful protest was to air views on the policy of government to the proposed concession of the four International airports.
According to Olayade, the airports are that of the Muritala Mohammed in Lagos, Aminu Kano in Kano state, Nnamdi Azikwe in Abuja and the one in Port Harcourt.
“The Federal Government claimed that the airports are underdeveloped and that it can not continue to fund the airports again.”
“Government now believe that it should invite private investors to come forward to invest so that there would be fund to develop the airports.”
“But our stand has always be transparency, as a critical stakeholders, because we are the workers and suppose to be carried along in whatever government want to do concerning concession of these four major airports; because these are where the bulk of our revenues are being generated,” he stated.
The ATSSSAN alleged that the Federal Government was not transparent about the concession process, saying that a committee set up to look into modalities on how the four airports would be concessioned had yet to brief the national executive of FAAN unions.
“The committee met with the national executive of our unions , where our executive even asked some questions on which area do they want to concession; but government could not come up with genuine answers.”
“There and then they promised to get back to us on the modalities and procedures they want to use , but to our surprise, they didn’t come back to feed us.”
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“All we hear is that they have continue with their policy, especially the last time the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, appeared before the National Assembly where he made it emphatically clear that it was a government policy to concession the four airports and that they were not going back.”
“We know it is government property but the critical stakeholders should be carried along,” the chairman explained.”
Collaborating the submission of ATSSSAN chairman; Mr Gbenga Kayode – Chairman of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Gbenga Kayode, urged the Federal Government to carry executives of the unions along in decisions that affect FAAN workers.