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Concession: Unions accuse Minister, ICRC of connivance to wreck havoc in the industry,vow to resist attempt

L-R Comrades Frances Akinjole, ATSSSAN, Ocheme Aba, NUATE and Abdulrazak Saidu, ANAP

There is an uneasy calm in the Aviation Industry ahead of flight restart as unions in the industry are irked over the concession of the 4 major airports in the country.

This is just as the unions have suggested among others the corporatization  of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN)  in which the Federal Government can retain 45% equity share and 55%  for public acquisition. 

The unions at a news briefing in Lagos accused the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika for single handedly driving the concession process in connivance with the Infrastructure, Concession, Regulatory Commission ICRC, to bequest the property of Nigerians to some individuals.

Speaking on behalf of the unions, Secretary General, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba Said it was highly regrettable that both the Minister and the ICRC were engaging in a ruse and taking Nigerians for a ride.

He stated that,  the issue of concession for the four airports have been single handedly decided by the Honourable Minister himself, and the ICRC has not carried out any due diligence on to the concession exercise and that If it did, the Commission would have discovered wide gulfs of deception in the exercise.

The unions, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals ANAP, National Union of Transport Employees, NUATE and the National Union of Pensioners, NUP, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN branch have vowed to make the airspace ungovernable if the idea to go ahead with the concession without carrying the unions along as agreed years ago.

Effects of the Concession of the 4 major Airports on the other 18 airports.

Speaking further, Comrade Aba stressed that the decision to concession four out of 22 airports was the height of subterfuge.
He gave reasons for, “These four airports are the live wire of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the rest of the airports depend on the four for sustenance. As a matter of fact, without the four, the other airports will die automatically. Therefore, to concession these four airports is to close up FAAN completely. But considering the basis of creating these other airports which is the public interest of opening up the entire country, even nationwide development, and national unity, one would wonder the rationale behind the idea of sacrificing these undeniably noble goals on the altar of a superficial notion of private investment.”

He said the minister in a hurry to achieve a desired end, had neglected the primacy of national security in the life of a nation, stressing that the current experiences with security at this critical time, it would be suicidal to open up the national security to private persons, especially foreign elements, considering the place of international airports in the national security architecture.

 Comrade Aba alleged that the Minister had completely usurped the functions of the Management and the Governing Board of the Authority and unlawfully arrogated to himself the powers to enter into agreements in the place of FAAN. 

“This is to the extent that there is now no difference between the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). This is a serious infraction; a travesty and an anomaly.”
“Of serious concern is the fact that the airports concessioning exercise is being directly carried out by the Honourable Minister of Aviation, whereas he does not run any airport, nor does the FAAN Act grant him any powers to concession FAAN assets.”

He described the planned concession of the only four revenue generating airports of FAAN an ill wind of which the only beneficiary is the source of the wind and as such,  Unions would come against the exercise and would resist it in strongest stance. 

“We are compelled to act so in recognition of our corporate citizenship and our sacred responsibility to the general public and fellow Nigerians to safeguard their common patrimony.”
” we shall soon publish our itinerary of public nationwide protests against this unsavoury machination. These protests shall last as long as the idea to concession Nigerian airports remains alive. In furtherance of the objective, we have sought the support of the NLC, TUC and ULC for the purpose of escalating the processes of engagement and protests.”

Alternatives to Concession According to the Unions

It is in realization of the need to credibly dissuade the government away from the concession of our four major international airports that led aviation Unions to join forces and came up with some credible alternatives as against the misguided contraption of concession. We are thus, again, reiterating some of the options we had severally presented before the unrepentant advocates of concession, viz:

1. Green Field concession. This model empowers new investors deal on fresh ventures which includes construction of new runways, terminal buildings and so forth to be operated for a specified period of time and compete with the existing airports before handing them over to government, or
2. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) can be corporatized in which the Federal Government shall retain 45% equity share while the remaining 55% is broken down for public acquisition. This is the model adopted by some other climes in similar circumstance as ours, like South Africa. and this would build investors’ confidence and attract foreign Direct Investment (FDI), making the much desired infrastructural decay to be attended to, while Labour related issues would be at the barest minimum, or
3. Complete autonomy of FAAN without the usual political meddlesomeness from the Ministry and the Presidency which has been the bane of effective and efficient performance of the aviation sector in Nigeria.

For avoidance of doubt, our Unions with all aviation workers, particularly FAAN workers and pensioners, will not co-operate with the concession program of the Honourable Minister of Aviation and will use every resource at our disposal to ensure that the machinations of the few against public interest ends here. The concession of Nigerian airports in the opaque manner prescribed by the Honourable Minister of Aviation must be denied daylight so as to suffer perpetual darkness. 


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