The NLC in a statement issued by Comrade Ayuba Wabba the NLC President described as foolhardy plans by the Federal Government to invest a lot of public funds into the reconstruction and rehabilitation of airports and then hand them over to private sector players for profit maximization and at the expense of the taxpaying public.
Today the NLC lead a rally of all aviation unions in the country nationwide shutting offices and grounding the entire public controlled aspect of the industry stating that it will not give up or surrender public assets to a few well-connected Nigerians, regardless of how powerful they may think they are
Airports earmarked for the planned concession are: the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport – Abuja, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport – Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa and the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano which has generated ruckus for years now.
The NLC in a statement said, “It is with great alarm that we learnt of the renewed efforts by the Federal Government to concession Nigeria’s major airports, namely: the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport – Abuja, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport – Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport, to private sector interests.
“Nigerians may recall that the current concession drive of the present government did not start today. It has been part of the neo-liberal predilection of successive governments stretching from the days of military rule up till the current democratic dispensation to privatize, deregulate, and concession critical national assets to their cronies and friends.
“Organized labour has identified this approach to governance as reactionary, predatory and self-serving. We rejected concession of our core national assets yesterday. We are rejecting it today!
“It is important to note that while our airports especially the ones earmarked for concession were in states of eye sore and dilapidation, no private sector invested money towards its rehabilitation. It would be a grand insult to the collective intelligence of the Nigerian public for the Federal Government to invest a lot of public funds into the reconstruction and rehabilitation of our airports and then hand them over to private sector players for profit maximization and at the expense of the taxpaying public. This is unjust. It is immoral. This cannot stand.
The NLC also expressed trepidation over job security of its workers as well as their general welfare stating:
“Apart from the hemorrhage to government revenue that this concession portends, Nigerian workers are concerned over the security of their jobs. Our experience in the past has been that of massive layoff of workers once a private sector gets the concession on our national assets. The reason is very overt – profit maximization as very few workers are engaged in slave labour to do the work that many workers would ordinarily be required to do. Organized Labour would resist this.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress and Organized Labour in Nigeria warned the Federal Government to desist from further contemplation, discussions and arrangements to concession our international airports. We call for social dialogue between government and labour on this.
“Organized labour and the entire Nigerian working class would resist any attempt to unilaterally concession any of our public airports thus undermine the directive principles and fundamental objectives of our national constitution which is actually the fulcrum upon which our collective identity and aspiration rests.
Meanwhile all over the nation airports, solidarity songs have filled the air as in Lagos FAAN staff embarked on a peaceful protest with placards reading; ‘FG resolve MM2 Concession’, ‘Selective concession ploy to destroy FAAN’, ‘Airport concession a crime against Nigerians’ among many others.
The national union leaders led staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, on a peaceful protest against the concession of the Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano international airports.
Members of the unions locked the gates of the FAAN headquarters with padlocks to ensure nobody enters the premises.
ANAP Secretary Comrade Abdulrazak Saidu, said the matter had been a lingering one, adding that meetings so far held with the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had not yielded any results.
He accused the Minister of aviation of embarking on a one man concession project which he was doing secretly with the Infrastructure, Concession and Regulatory Commission, ICRC.
ATSSSAN Chairman FAAN branch, comrade Ahmed Danjuma said the airport concession was an injustice to FAAN and that the unions and the staff would not allow it to happen.
He alleged that the Aviation Minister forged the concession documents and presented it to the ICRC and that that unions objected to the certificate presented to the Minister by the ICRC because the Minister in the cause if the project wanted to show Nigerians that he is transparent.
The union leader alleged that the minister had not been sincere right from day one of the the proposed concession and the unveiling of his roadmap for the industry.
“And he then approached the unions to be members of that committee incidentally myself and the president of NUATE and members of that committee in order to monitor initially we refused to join that committee.”
In Abuja, 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), rejected the concession stating it’s done in bad faith.
Speaking during the protest, Chairman, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Comrade Ahmed Yusuf 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 asked.
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.