May 24, 2023

Labour kicks against concession of Abuja, Kano airports

NCAA refutes claim that passengers without proof of vaccination will be denied boarding

—Says concession doesn’t follow due process
—We’re in solidarity with aviation workers –Ajaero

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja

crisis is brewing in the aviation sector as workers union’s within the sector have kicked against the concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), by the Federal government.

The aviation workers threatened a showdown if the federal government should go ahead to impose the concession policy.

They also warned the firms involved in the concession deal of the two airports to stay clear, alleging that the exercise is fraught with illegalities and lacked transparency.

They alleged that the purported concession was handled in a most secretive manner.

They said, “from the selection of the Transaction Adviser, through the pre-qualification and selection of bidders/winners, to the development of the Full Business Case and conclusion of the concession, only the Minister, his henchmen in the Ministry and the ICRC and the favoured bidder, apart from the wind and walls, have any inkling of the concession process, whereas the whole exercise, by regulation, ought to be carried out transparently within the public view”.

Recall that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had last week, approved the concession of the two airports to the Corporacion American Airport Consortium.

Briefing journalists in Abuja, the workers fiercely protested the action, claiming it fell short of legal and acceptable limits and standards of airports concession by global best practices.

The union’s that briefed journalists were the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN); Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and Nigeria Union Of Pensioners (NUP) FAAN Branch.

The unions cited faulty foundation, labour issues, contempt of court, lack of transparency, among others as some of the reasons for protesting the move, warning that anyone or entity that may proceed to commit any form of resources to such endeavor is engaging in sheer wastefulness.

A prepared text that was made available to newsmen jointly signed by Ocheme Aba, General Secretary, NUATE; Frances Akinjole, Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN; Abdul Saidu, Secretary General, ANAP and Emeka Njoku, National Secretary, NUP read: “We wish to use this medium to make the Nigerian and International public aware that the action of the Federal Government in the above regards is an exercise in abnormality and absurdity, albeit in futility.

“It is our believe that members of the Federal Executive Council were overcome by the spirit of Camaraderie as institutionalized in the present posture of the outgoing government for last minute bonanza for its principal officers, and so failed to scrutinize the request brought before it by the Hon. Minister of Aviation.

“If the Council did it would have availed itself of publicly available information and materials which our unions have persistently put before members of the Council and the Public about the many legally, economically and socially untenable aspects of the airports concession program of the Ministry of Aviation, and which are inimical to both orderly development of Nigerian airports and Nigeria’s social economic interest.

“For the purpose of understanding, we are compelled, for the umpteenth time, to highlight the main issues in contention pertaining to the purported airports concession.”

“Our unions have consistently and persistently called attention to the many unwholesome aspects of the airports concession program of the Ministry of Aviation and asked for retuning of the process to make it beneficial to Nigeria and its people, including the workers and pensioners of FAAN.

“We are convinced that our inputs can only assure a more robust concession process that can guarantee better outcomes for FAAN and its workers.

“The present one man show has only shortchanged our collective aspirations and vision for the future of our airports and the aviation industry. Our effort to bring this situation to the public domain is to enable public outcry to compel the government into positive action to save the concession program, and to alert the incoming government to the booby-traps being enacted for its downfall by the outgoing government.

“We wish however, to state strongly and categorically that our commitment to ensuring that the stated shady concession exercise does not see the light of day is total and unwavering. This present exercise falls far short of legal and acceptable limits and standards of airports concession by global best practices.

“We shall stand against it mightily and courageously in the interest of fatherland and the workers. We shall not allow any illegal concessionaire near any airport facility in Nigeria, and any effort to use force against us will be met with equal and opposite reaction.

“Any concessionaire would have known that it has willingly purchased a lemon and cannot complain about unfair practice as we have persistently and loudly shouted buyers beware over and over in the past on the issue of airports concessions.

“All such concessionaires know the global standards, particular as regards settlement of labour issues before any concession. If they had been given the impression that Nigeria’s case can be different, then this serves as wake up call to them to awake from their dreams of delusion.

There can be no concession of Nigerian airports until there is resort to legality and normality.”

Also speaking, the NLC President Joe Ajaero said that NLC is in solidarity with the Aviation sector unions on the current concession crisis.

“It is illegal to the extent that it violated the laws of the land and it cannot stand. We urge the private sector firm seeking to take over the Airports through the faulty concession arrangement to stay away. The position of the unions in the Aviation sector is the position of the NLC.

Ajaero advised the incoming government not to accept the concession deal as it is like a bubby trap set for it.