Two major aviation unions in the country: Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) And Nigeria Union Of Pensioners (NUP), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Branch say they have observed with dismay that while the Federal Government was busy enforcing the change policy which brought this government to power, the Minister of State (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika was operating from a different page through the ‘business as usual approach’.
The union in a letter addressed to the President and Commander in Chief, Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, and dated 7th July, 2017 stated that the minister’s position on airport concession, 5% FAAN Passengers Service Charge (PSC) to AIB and his continuous efforts to cripple FAAN were not in line with the governments change agenda.
The unions noted that why they have reported and exposed to the minister questionable concession agreements skewed in Favour of the concessionaire, they were expecting the minister to commence its instead of insisting on concessioning of airports.
Alleging that the aviation Minister had done nothing in this direction, the unions in the letter jointly signed by the Secretary General of ANAP, Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu and the NUP General Secretary, Comrade Emeka Njoku further added that “he is busy planning to further stage manage the so called concession of the Four viable International Airports in Nigeria”.
“We have vehemently told him capital no because, about 80% of FAAN IGR were forcefully put under the highly questionable concessional agreements by the former managements under the supervision of former Administration and we thought that with the change policy the Hon. Minister of State, Aviation should have upwardly reviewed these agreements upon his resumption”, the labour unions said.
Some of the areas, they advised the minister, according to the labour unions include: to cancel previous arrangement and allow FAAN staff and officials to collect the revenue accruing from Advertising Bill Boards throughout Nigeria airports; collection of fees from toll gates and car parks; fuel surcharges; shop rents and VIP Lounges etc,
On 5% FAAN PSC ministerial approval and directive that FAAN should be paying to AIB monthly, the unions said “While we are not against the commissioner for requesting for more funds for AIB, we saw the approval and directive of 5% PSC of FAAN to AIB as an abuse of office by the Minister of State, Aviation. Government owned companies, parastatals and agencies etc, were established through enabling Acts, stating how funds or revenue could be provided. It is therefore dangerous now, trying to unlawfully rob FAAN to pay AIB, when both were established by law stipulating their source of funding”.
According to ANAP and NUP, yearly budgets are being prepared and defended by both FAAN and AIB base on individual IGR and have obtained approval before appropriation. They therefore, stated that for the minister to direct FAAN to be remitting 5% from monthly PSC without due process of law amounted to an outright illegality on the part of the Minister of State and shall also result into threat to safety and security for which FAAN is statutorily empowered.
“We are aware that the United Nations charter on Aircraft accident investigation does not allow AIB to charge for services rendered as IGR and this is the reason why 3% of total revenue derived from Ticket Sales Charges (TSC) in addition to their yearly budgetary Federal Government allocation are the source for funding AIB by the Federal Government”, the union stated.
Having critically looked into the reasons given by the commissioner/CEO of AIB for requesting for more funds to enable AIB Operates and meets her statutory responsibilities, the aviation unions stated that such demand, may be feasible but surely, not from the overburdened FAAN.
It further stated “With the numerous operational financial needs of FAAN, knowing fully well that the Federal Government does not fund FAAN unless Capital Projects Approved by FEC, the Hon. Minister of State’s 5% approval and directive that FAAN should be paying AIB is to us an attempt to cripple FAAN like was done to the then Nigeria Airways and therefore Mr. President should please stop it and call him to order”.
“Senator Hadi Sirika knew very well that FAAN is being owed huge sums of revenue by Airlines and concessionaires as a result of impunity and corrupt tendencies perpetuated under the former Administration and this should have become his concern to ensuring that FAAN debtors pay for the services enjoyed by them but all to no avail”.
While calling on the President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Aviation Minister to order, as they pray the president to among others : discontinue the proposed concession plan and cancellation and review of all previous concession agreements; Preparation of reasonable supplementary budget for AIB for necessary approval.