Labour unions in Nigeria’s aviation industry on Tuesday resolved to resist the recent decision of the Federal Government to concession to private firms the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The unions also alleged that it had come to their notice that the government plans to invest over N659 million in the execution of the airport concession programme, which it decried as a misapplication of scare fund.
This resolution and revelation were made yesterday in Lagos when staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) under the aegis of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) staged a peaceful rally to denounce the government’s concession programme for the Lagos and Abuja airports.
Addressing the workers, the General Secretary of NUATE, Mr. Olayinka Abioye alleged that at a time the country was grappling with how to source for funds for various socio-economic infrastructure upgrade, the federal government would be planning to spend about N659million on the process of getting the Lagos and Abuja airports concessioned with about N125 million out of the N659 million voted solely on logistics to undertake road shows overseas to woo foreign investors.
“In this age of technology, you don’t need to travel overseas to advertise the concession of airports. You can do that from the comfort of your office. And the money set aside to do the concession campaign is provided by FAAN,” he lamented.
Abioye also said the two unions were against the decision of the Federal Government to dispose of the economically viable airports in Lagos and Abuja while leave the non-viable ones and those that serve as alternates to the viable ones in the hands of FAAN.
“When you sell a cash cow like the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, what happens to Akure and Ibadan airports? We are not averse to any policy that will improve service delivery, but we will oppose those kind of policies that will stifle the growth of the aviation sector and our members,” he added.
In his speech, the President of ATSSSAN, Mr. Ahmadu Ilitrus said the protest against airport concession is a collective struggle which “workers must fight to the end.”
He said labour would continue to engage the federal government in dialogue so as to forestall the mistake made in the concession of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2 which ended up not serving the country much good.
There have been various litigation between FAAN and Bi-Courtney following the concession of the MMA2 and the labour leader said it came about because of the hasty process that led to the concession of the airport.
“MMA2 is the worst example of concession in the world. Nobody can tell you the tenure of the concession. Since the concession was consummated, no royalty has been paid to FAAN. Even if FAAN had no source of revenue, it would naturally collect royalty from the MMA2, but that is not happening,” he said.
Chairman of the FAAN branch of ATSSAN, Mr. Danjuma Ahmed told Daily Sun that the protest had become inevitable following the failure of the government to see reasons with workers that the concession of the airports was not the panacea to the rot in infrastructure at the airports. Ahmed said inadequate funding which the government hinged as core reason for the concession of the airport was not at the root of the problems plaguing the nation’s airports, but rather the interferences by politicians who would not allow the prudent management of resources generated by the airports for their growth and prosperity.
“We believe that FAAN can manage the resources generated by the airports and also transform them into world class standards provided they are no interferences from the government,” Ahmed said.