Aviation unions vow to resist planned concession of airports

.. Says minister acted alone on selfish interest

Photo Caption:
L-R:  Deputy General  Secretary, Air Transport Senior Staff
Services Association Nigeria  (ATSSSAN), Comrade Frances Akinjole;
Secretary General, National Union of Air Transport Employees, (NUATA)
Comrade Ocheme  Aba  and   Secretary General, Association of Nigeria
Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Abdu l Razaq  Saidu, during the World Press Conference on Airport cncession in Lagos on Tuesday, June 30

The Nigerian Aviation workers unions have vowed to resist the proposed concession of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and the Port Harcourt International Airport.

Speaking during a world press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, June 30, Comrade Aba Ocheme, the secretary general of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, supported by other unions leaders like comrade Frances Akinjole, the general secretary of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu of Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP and comrade Emeka Njoku,
secretary general of the Nigerian Union of Penshioners, FAAN branch stated that airport concession is a crime against the Nigerian people and must be resisted.

Comrade Ocheme said the unions will not co-operate with the concession program of the minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and will use every resource at their disposal to ensure that the machinations of the few against public interest ends here.

NUATE scribe noted that everything so far about the issue of concession for the four international airports have been single handedly decided by the minister of aviation, Senator Sirika himself, adding that the Infrastructural Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC has not carried out any due diligence on the concession exercise.

He said if actuall the ICRC carried out any due diligence on the concession exercise, it would have discovered wide gulfs of deception in the exercise.

Ocheme explained that while the Project Delivery Team (PDT) – which includes the ICRC – was still discussing the issue of Transaction Adviser (TA), the minister of Aviation was on air announcing the approval of the Federal Executive Council, FEC of a TA and his fees, maintaining that both the TA and the fees were apparently decided solely by the Minister.

He said up till date, the PDT has not been allowed to take a position on the matter as its effort in that direction is being frustrated surreptiously.

According to him, “at the last meeting of the Project Delivery Team, in late 2019, it was decided that the airports concession issue be degraded to the bottom of the list of aviation priority projects while upgrading the National Carrier, Aviation Leasing Company, and the aircraft Maintenance and Repair Organisation for quick delivery. In addition, the ICRC was requested to provide the required components for the OBCs for the upgraded projects which the Commission promised to provide at the next meeting. That next meeting is yet to be called till date. But now, the same ICRC has been said to have issued a Certificate of Compliance (C of C) to the Minister of Aviation for the Outline Business Case for concession of four international airports. So we ask, who is fooling who?”

Ocheme explained further that: “For the records, the Project Delivery Team comprises about five Federal Ministries, including Aviation and Finance, and other agencies including FAAN and the ICRC itself, as well as two representatives of our Unions.

Unfortunately, the Minister of Aviation completely sidestepped the Team and has gone ahead with his own programs as determined by himself alone. Our Unions have decided that we shall have to review our membership of the PDT if this type of public deceit and shenanigan continue.

“For now, however, being a component part of the Team, we completely disown any false reports of the Team there might be, upon which the ICRC might have erroneously based the issuance of the said C of C. We avow hereby that the said Certificate is obtained on faulty grounds.

Based on the above, we hereby alert President Muhammed Buhari, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the National Assembly and the general public not to be deceived by the “celebrated” Certificate of Compliance from the ICRC and not to approve the privately assembled Outline Business Case. This outline, for reasons stated, cannot be detached from individual embedded interests and may be a self-favouring booby trap”.

He listed other credible alternatives to concession to include Green Field Concession which 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 FAAN to be corporatized in which the federal government shall retain 45per cent equity share while the remaining 55 percent is broken down for public acquisition.

The second option he said is 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.

Ocheme stated the unions would soon publish its itinerary of public nationwide protests against what they called unsavoury machination.

He noted that the protests shall last as long as the idea to concession Nigerian airports remains alive, adding that in furtherance of the objective, the aviation Unions have sought the support of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC and the United Labour Congress, ULC for the purpose of escalating the processes of engagement and protests.

NUATE warned that the concession of Nigerian airports in the opaque manner prescribed by the Minister of Aviation must be denied daylight so as to suffer perpetual darkness.

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