Trouble looms in aviation sector over appointments, promotions

Trouble looms in aviation sector over appointments, promotions

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 10:13 am


Director-General of NCAA, Captain Muhtar Usman,

Workers in the aviation sector are at war with the management of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA over appointments of unqualified directors and failure of management to issue letters of promotion to deserving members of staff. The workers said the peace currently being enjoined in the sector may be ruptured except their demands are met.

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

On Tuesday, workers in the Nigeria aviation industry picketed Regional offices of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA nationwide. The action is the culmination of the protests by the workers over what they described as impunity by the management of NCAA on the issues of promotion and appointments of top management staff without regard to the sensitive nature of the sector.

The workers had in a letter dated 20 June to the Director General/CEO NCAA warned of an impending labour crisis over failure to appropriately promote staff who not only passed the last promotion exercise conducted by the Authority, but also posses other qualifications necessary for it.

In the petition titled, Demand For Outstanding Promotion Letters For Deserving Staff Within One Week-Avoid Imminent Labour Crisis, the workers under the aegis of National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, said they are compelled to draw the attention of the Management to the unwholesome and unacceptable outcome of the last promotion exercise which has left several suitably qualified members of staff out of being promoted in spite  of the fact that they qualified for to be invited for such promotion exercise, sat for same and passed their relevant examinations and other ancillary criteria thereto.

The workers had complained about the management’s promotion of a few out of ‘meritorious lot’ that ought to have benefitted, thereby creating mental agonies, and anxiety within the NCAA,” in the letter signed by Olayinka Olu Abioye, General Secretary, NUATE.   Specifically,  the workers had accused management of indulging in nepotism and favouritism in violation of NCAA’s Scheme of Service in carrying out the promotion.

For example, the workers claimed that out of five workers who passed the examination in a particular department, only one was given a promotion letter. In the same vein, they also complained of the situation in which a worker who has been an AGM since 2008 was promoted to DGM, effective 2017.

The workers argued that given the fact that the scheme of service stipulated a maximum of four years at a position, the promotion of the staff should have been backdated to 2011. The Management purposely did this to avoid payment of promotion arrears, said a senior staff who spoke to this magazine.

Yet, the workers contended in the petition that the denial of promotion to workers is anot due to lack of vacancy at the top. Rather, they accused the management of NCAA of playing ‘politics’  by neglecting to promote workers who have grown within the system for outsiders, most of whom did not even have the prerequisite qualifications for appointment into positions in the Authority.

It will recalled that the Unions in the aviation industry had staged a peaceful protest  when the NCAA announced the appointment of new directors for the Authority. Those appointed were Capt. Edem Oyo-Ita as Director of Air Transport Regulations; Mr Abbas Sanusi, Director, Human Resources and Administration; and Adamu Sani; Director of Finance and Accounts, Odunowo Tayyib Adetunji, Director of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards, Mr Ita Awak, Director of Airworthiness Standards, Lawrence Kwajok, General Manager, Air Navigational Standards.

But the workers said after a careful scrutiny, they discovered that some of  directors do not possess the prerequisite qualification to hold the offices they were assigned. Specifically, they pointed out that the new director of Finance and Accounts, Ms. Bilikisu Adamu Sani is an educationist by training while the director of airworthiness standards, Mr. Ita Awak is a politician. “I’m aware that the newly appointed director of airworthiness standards has been a politician through and through. Airworthiness directorate should not be joked with for it is a sensitive directorate, except you want aircraft to be falling from the skies. The director of airworthiness standards is not suitably qualified; for 25 years he has never handled a spanner. He is not qualified and if you bring someone who is unqualified aircraft will start falling out of the skies,” said Abioye.

In the same vein, the workers also complained that the person appointed as director of finance and accounts is not a chartered accountant, hence lacked the prerequisite qualifications for appointment into the position specified by the NCAA’s scheme of employment. “The director of finance and accounts has a degree in education. She is not an accountant; she is not a financial guru. Anyone occupying the position should be grounded in accounting,” he added.

Abioye had then threatened that the unions would shut down the airports for one week over alleged imposition of untested and unqualified personnel as directors in NCAA unless government rescinded the appointments.

While further picking holes in the appointment of directors from outside of the NCAA to head sensitive position, the Aviation workers had in their 20 June petition noted  that the Authority’s Scheme of Service indicated that a staff can only be promoted to level 13 upwards if he or she is a member of a registered professional body.

They pointed out that the directors lacked such qualifications. NCAA has not denied the allegations.

The workers had consequently demanded release of promotion letters to all members of staff who passed the last promotion exercise conducted by the NCAA within a week.   In response to the petition, the management had in a letter dated 22 June, addressed to the General Secretary of NUATE acknowledged the complaints of the workers and promised to look into it “with the aim of addressing issues raised.”

But that is as far as it goes as the management failed to live up to the promise of addressing the grievances of the workers. Thus,  NUATE, in a reminder to the management of the Authority on 29 June, reminded it of the one week ultimatum. The Union also noted that rather than give  promotion letters to all that are qualified for promotion as it demanded, the NCAA management has been engaged in favouritism as it gave letters to only two of its ‘victims’ based on ‘orders from above.’

The Union again warned of imminent labour crisis if their demands are not met by the management. In spite of the reminder, the management of NCAA has so far refused to accede to the request of the workers and this set the stage for the picketing of the regional offices of the Authority on Wednesday.

The question is will the NCAA allow the grievances of the workers transform into a full blown crisis as the workers has threatened at the time the government is trying to reposition the aviation sector to attract more investments into Nigeria in line with recently signed executive orders by the Acting President?

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