Four labour unions the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals and Nigeria Union of Pensioners FAAN Branch have yesterday condemned the reported concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano to Corporacion American Airports Consortium by the Federal Ministry of Aviation (and Aerospace).
This is just as they have vowed to resist the concession stressing that there can be no concession of Nigerian airports until there is resort to legality and normality.
The aggrieved unions in a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday said its intent is to make the Nigerian and International public aware that the action of the Federal Government in the above regards is an exercise in abnormality and absurdity, albeit in futility.
In a conference they themed: Buyer Beware the unions listed five issues: faulty foundation,labour issues, contempt of court, lack of transparency and one man show as contention pertaining to the purported airports concession.
On faulty foundation of the concession the unions stressed that ,”The Ministry of Aviation which carried out the concession has no authority to do so. To begin with, the Federal Ministry of Aviation (and Aerospace) does not own, or run, any airport in Nigeria. By the dictates of the governing Act of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), ownership and management of all Federal Government airports are fully vested in the Authority; not the Ministry.
“On the other hand, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) procedure document states, with respect to the agency that wishes to concession a facility that, “The public entity should have enabling authority to transfer its responsibility – enabling legislative and policy framework or an Administrative Order to that effect”.
“By the combined import of the FAAN Act and the ICRC procedures manual, it is evidently manifest that the entire airports concession is based on an incurably faulty foundation. On labour issues, the unions surmised that labour issues around the concession of airports are far from being resolved.
They said, “The three issues are:As FAAN workers are not airports-tied in their employments, all employees are considered as a whole unit. In this regard, the concession of the four most major airports away from FAAN would necessarily cause a cessation of the employment of all the staff involuntarily. Therefore, our Unions stand ready to negotiate redundancy benefits for all staff and pensioners of FAAN.
“As FAAN pension liability is unfunded, the federal government’s promise to provide this funding has to be actualized immediately. The pension liability is estimated to be about N120B. Before redundancy can be discussed, individual liabilities of staff and pensioners have to be determined through up-to-date actuarial valuation for 2022.
They equally stressed that, “The entirety of the airports concession program of the Ministry of Aviation is presently a subject of legal action by our unions at the National Industrial Court, Lagos Jurisdiction. Both the Ministry of Aviation and FAAN are defendants in the case and have been duly served the summons. Therefore, by continuing with the concession exercise in spite of having been served with court action, the Minister of Aviation is in contempt of the Court.
The unions flayed the present one man show the Minister of Aviation is running alleging that it has only short changed the collective aspirations and vision for the future of our airports and the aviation industry.
” Our effort to bring this situation to the public domain is to enable public outcry to compel the government into positive action to save the concession program, and to alert the incoming government to the booby-traps being enacted for its downfall by the outgoing government.
“We wish however, to state strongly and categorically that our commitment to ensuring that the stated shady concession exercise does not see the light of day is total and unwavering. This present exercise falls far short of legal and acceptable limits and standards of airports concession by global best practices.
“We shall not allow any illegal concessionaire near any airport facility in Nigeria, and any effort to use force against us will be met with equal and opposite reaction.