Airport Concession: Aviation Unions roar again, prepare for nationwide protests

Aviation Labour union protest

The Nigeria Aviation industry is about to witness another industrial unrest over the attempt by government to execute its plans of concessioning the 4 major airports in the country.
To this end, unions in the industry are getting set to embark on a nationwide industrial protest to be kicked off shortly in order to compel a rethink in a positive direction.

This is just as they also publicly dissociate themselves from any notion of being against the concession of airports as being insinuated in some quarters as they say the lie is defeated by the fact that they did offer an alternative concession model, along with alternative approaches in its earlier press conference.

General Secretaries of the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, say the airport concession is a Crime against Nigerian People and it must be resisted frontally and there is no going back.

In a joint statement by the union’s Secretaries, Comrades Abdulrazak Saidu, Ocheme Aba and Frances Akinjole, say the Unions are not ignorant of the concessions or PPP procedures as being overseen by the ICRC and neither are they mere industrial and special interest groups claiming to be acting on behalf of all members.

“Contrary to the above assertion, we are not ignorant of the ICRC processes. As a matter of fact, our well-considered contention that the ICRC has not performed due diligence on the concession programme, and that the Ministry has not acted altruistically in the matter is borne out of our knowledge that both the Ministry and the ICRC have gravely failed to comply with the established PPP due process.”

Giving reasons for their being against the Concession, the Unions call attention to noticeable fundamental infractions in the handling of the airport concession project by the ICRC and the Ministry of Aviation.

“A major pre-requisite for enabling a PPP, according to ICRC regulation, is that, “The public entity should have enabling authority to transfer its responsibility – enabling legislative and policy framework OR an Administrative Order to that effect”. But, we find nothing in the Federal airports Authority of Nigeria Act that grants power to the Ministry of Aviation “to transfer its responsibility”,  nor is there any clear “legislative & policy framework” for such, nor is there an “Administrative order” in that respect. Therefore, the airports concession is being undertaken in the absence of a basic pre-requisite, and in contravention of its major policy guideline.”

“The mode of operation of the ICRC is to deal directly with the concessioner Ministry, or Department, or Agency (MDA); in this instance, the FAAN. But, as we all well know, FAAN has not even as much as done any project identification, or prioritization, or concept note to the ICRC on concession of any airport in Nigeria to the ICRC as required by the publicly stated ICRC procedures. And the only role FAAN has played so far is that of a representative member on the Project Delivery Team and the Steering Committee as appointed by the Minister. Therefore, the ICRC and the Ministry, by carrying on with the airports concession project outside the purview of FAAN is indicative of an unwholesome agenda. Such action is, in fact, unlawful as it contravenes Part II, 3(g) of the FAAN Establishment Act, 2004 as well as the Civil Aviation Act, 2005. As a matter of fact, for a PPP project by an Agency as in this case, the only role prescribed for a Minister by the ICRC is that the Agency “would submit the FBC (Full Business Case) through the line Minister for approval”, by FEC, ostensibly.”

The unions also claimed that the Ministry has in many ways single-handedly driven the processes, adding that any effort to contradict the solid fact flies in the face of overwhelming evidence of the over-arching actions of the Minister on the matter. 

“The Hon. Minister, with naked power, completely hijacked the airports concession project from FAAN and prevented the ownership of the process by FAAN in disregard to procedure established by the ICRC, the FAAN Act and the Civil Aviation Act. In this regard, take note that it is the Minister, instead of FAAN that set up the Project Delivery Team (PDT). It is under the Minister’s auspices, instead of FAAN, that all the documents for the processes were produced. It is the Minister, instead of FAAN, that received the ICRC certificate of Compliance. Clearly, the Minister, instead of FAAN, is driving the concession exercise.” 

It adds, “Whereas the Hon. Minister has always showcased his pride in including two union representatives in the PDT, and constantly states that this was to serve the purpose of assuring transparency and accountability, his actions have advertently eroded the advertised transparent disposition. First, the clandestine approach to the PPP process has rendered the PDT redundant, and the participation of our Unions in tow. Second, his expressly stated disdain and low esteem for the PDT as contained in his rejoinder clearly shows that he does not reckon with the PDT. Therefore, his oft-stated value attached to the Unions participation in the concession process through our membership of the PDT is a charade, an instrument to blackmail labour, and a calculated effort to mislead government and the public.”

“We are absolutely convinced that the preponderance of infractions/violations, short-circuiting/circumventions, and gross abuses of the PPP processes have denied the proposed airports concession of any nobility. Any non-chauvinistic and honest assessment of the airports concession programme so far cannot but confirm our earlier held view that this concession is a crime against the Nigerian State and its people, and that it should be discontinued forthwith.”

They hasten to say that though, they are unambiguously strewn to the national cause and the genuine interest of the workers of FAAN, they are completely extricated from any narrow, or selfish motives. Therefore, we shall remain unwavering in our stated commitment to deny this clandestine PPP the benefit of daylight. 

The unions, however, say they welcome the Minister’s promise to engage with them on these issues, and will make themselves available and look forward to such engagement soon enough. 
“For, should it be that the Hon. Minister does have altruistic motive after all, and we are only mistaking his overzealousness for ill motive, then this statement represents a valuable chance for the Minister to step back a bit and take another look at his approach thus far. In that case his intended engagement with our unions may prove auspicious and useful indeed.”


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