…unions orders FG to disband Transaction Advisors within 15 days
From Suleiman Idris, Lagos
Posers over the federal government decision to concession Nigeria prime airports continues to reverberate as three aviation unions, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) yesterday challenged the government to come clean on the entire processes.
They specifically took on the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, asking him to disband the Transaction Advisors on airport concession immediately or face an industrial action within the next fifteen days.
Warning potential investors in the industry to stay clear of what they term ‘Caveat Emptor’ on the airports, the trio said officials of the Buhari’s administration are planning to ‘sell the airports to their allies and affirmed that steps taken so far concerning the planned concession were shrouded in secrecy, adding that the unions and workers have been sidelined.
Olayinka Abioye, general secretary, NUATE, at a press briefing on behalf of others, said up till now, the act establishing the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is yet to be reviewed or amended by the National Assembly, yet the Ministry of Aviation has concluded plans to concession the airports.
“Aviation workers were taken aback when some months ago, we woke up to the proclamation of the Honourable Minister, State, Aviation, to the effect that four major airports, out of the twenty two airports scattered across various states in Nigeria, operated and managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) (a parastatal created by Act F5 of 1995) would face concession due to Governments seeming continued failure, lean purse, neglect and or inability to source for required funds to rehabilitate infrastructures and put subsisting facilities to work in our airports.
“As proactive, responsive and responsible trade unions, we took up the matter via a letter to seek clarifications on the import of such policy statement, realizing that such a policy could come without the Minister genuinely consulting with industry players and stakeholders alike.
“Yet again, the Act establishing the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is not before the National Assembly for review/amendment to accommodate this cloudy delusory concession.
“Between then and now, the global communities are aware of this ignoble intention and plan to concession four airports, our national heritage and commonwealth and which are the cash cows of the industry, to “new investors” from God knows where.
The problem with us in the sector is not the ability of FAAN to manage its affairs properly and in the wisest of ways, but the continued Ministerial/Official meddlesomeness inflicted on the industry and the pauperization, essentially, of FAAN through several policy somersaults, as no clear policy has been sustained in the last twenty five years, arising from regular change of government and Ministers who initiate “their” own agenda/policies while dismantling existing ones, not minding the success or otherwise of such policies”, he said.
Abioye, who said there are other alternatives such as Greenfield and Corporitisation to concession asked: How did we get to this point in our national live? How did the Minister get to the “concession model” out of the many models? Where and who was this discussed with? How did we pick concession out of all the models within the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative?”
Speaking on the much talked about the concession that saw the FG handed over the management of MMA2 to it present operator, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, he said Bi-Courtney is owing and continues to owe the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) more than TWO BILLION NAIRA being various fees for services rendered to it by FAAN.
He said until such issues and other concession issues are resolved, ‘Unions shall not rest on their oars and allow these shenanigans to continue’.