Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:09 am
Workers’ unions in the Nigerian Aviation industry on Tuesday embarked on massive rally to protest the planned concession of the four major airports in the country to private investors by the Federal Government.
In Abuja, members of the different aviation unions armed with placards with inscriptions signifying their opposition to the planned concession, embarked on procession from the Nnamdi Azikwe Internal Airport tollgate to other parts of the expansive airport.
They stopped intermittently to pray against the success of the concession during the procession which was however very peaceful.
The workers did not disrupt flight operations during the procession which was confined to the Airport.
Lanre Popoola, an official of National Union of Air Transport Employees told this magazine that the peaceful protest was organised to send a message to the President that the workers will not support the planned concession of the four major airports.
He added that similar protests are being held by workers in the other airports slated for concession.
“We are trying to send a message to the President that our four airports purported to be concessioned are no go areas. They should go and concession airports like Minna airport.
“You can imagine a state like Niger State having two airports, they have what is called old airport and new airport. They should go to Gombe and concession Gombe Airport, they should go to Akure and concession Akure Airport. We don’t have issues with those ones.
“Why would the Federal Government want to concession an Airports that serve as heritage of the nation? We are saying no to concession of our four airports, that’s why we are on the streets now,” Popoola said.
He added that the workers were opposed to the planned privatisation because the outcome of similar exercise in the industry have been negative.
“SAHCOL has been privatised. As I speak with you, this same company is owing staff backlog of salaries. They should come and do the needful in the aviation sector.”
Popoola added that the problems besetting the sector can be tackled if the Federal Government take action to curb all forms of corrupt practices prevalent among the managers.
“All the aviation agencies need the presence of EFCC. There is absolute corruption in the industry. We are calling on Federal Government to come and rescue us. It is only in this industry that you will see a graduate of 2010 being given AGM,” said Poopola.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had disclosed last week that the Federal Government has concluded arrangement to appoint a Transaction Adviser for the concession of the big four airports in the country.
The Minister said the government would concession the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos; Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers State.
He said government would go ahead with the concession of the airports through Public Private Partnership, adding that the asset will ultimately come back to the Nigerian people.
He said: “This will take time because we have to respond to law and due process and the government is in the process of appointing a Transaction Adviser.
“We have already been to Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission.