By Stella Enenche, Abuja
A coalition of Aviation Unions has vowed to resist plans by the federal government to concession the four major airports in the country, saying the action was in bad faith.
Recall that the Nigerian government, through the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had commenced the process to concession the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport Kano, the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport tagged the Big Four.
Sirika had said the concession was part of the reforms in the aviation sector, even as he further claimed that the development will create additional jobs in the sub-sector.
However, the aviation unions – the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, (ANAP), National Union of Air Transport Employees, (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, (ATSSSAN) – have roundly rejected the minister’s claim, and said the concession will lead to job losses.
As part of their planned systematic opposition to the concession, the unions on Monday, held a peaceful demonstration at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, preparatory to shutting the entire aviation industry if the minister goes on with the concession.
Speaking during the protest, Ahmed Yusuf, Chairman, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) said: “We are protesting because while we were in a lockdown, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika surprising received the outline business case (OBC) certificate for the concession of the four most viable airports out of the 22 airports in Nigeria.
“This came as a surprise and an insincere act. It lacked transparency and the staff were not carried along” he said.
“We totally reject the concession because it is not transparent. If the four viable airports are concessioned, the remaining 18 airports will die because these four airports sustain the other airports. It is a disaster waiting to happen and definitely jobs will be lost. The Lagos airport alone can sustain the 22 airports so why the concession?”
He said the unions suggested Greenfield concession where the concessionaire will acquire a virgin land, build, operate and transfer the airports adding that this will create more jobs during and after construction and to drive competition.
Samuel Wuyep, the Abuja chapter Chairman of ATTSSAN said: “The Unions have never agreed that the concession should happen. We oppose t and we will continue to oppose it. Procedurally, there are certain steps to take, we just went through the first step and the minister abandoned it and when to obtain a certificate from ICRC. There is no transparency in it” he said.
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