Unions in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency ( NAMA) are agitated over repeat calls by the minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika to demolish their offices to make way for an unsanctioned aerotropolis project.
This plan is coming barely three months into a change of administration and almost a year after Sirika demolished the over N5bn offices and data analysis laboratory of the Accident Investigation Bureau ( AIB) now National Safety Investigation Bureau (Bureau) to make way for an Apron expansion.
The unions also raised alarm to the forced relocation of AIB, NCAA, FAAN and NAMA staff to Abuja claiming that majority of them had no offices and were squatting while an agency which has a fully functional office is Lagos is allegedly paying rent for accommodation to the tune of billions annually, with same inadequacies.
Unions including Air transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria ( ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees ( NUATE) and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals ( ANAP) have vowed that they would continue to vigorously kick against the planned demolition of the buildings until the government complied with the Labour Act on relocation of workers.
The workers who had gathered at the Freedom Square of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as early as 8a.m, carried different placards to press home their disaffection with the decision of the government.
Some of the placards read in part: ‘No to demolition of FAAN headquarters Annex,’ ‘F.G. stop the demolition of headquarters annex Lagos,’ ‘FAAN headquarters annex not for sale,’ ‘Build FAAN corporate headquarters,’ and ‘Demolition of FAAN headquarters is fraud,’ among others.
General Secretary NUATE, Ocheme Aba who spoke during the congress expressed irritability at the sheer insensitivity and lack of direction the Minister was headed at the twilight of his tumultuous seven years on the helm.
He said,” I think in normal clime we should not be having these kinds of situations. I mean, this Government is winding up, under normal circumstances we should not be hearing of things they want to do or plan to do however this planned demolition of headquarters has been on for one year.
“As a matter of fact they have taken out headquarters of AIB because they want to extend International terminal, those people taken out of that office have no where to work from and there is no alternative place prepared.
” We do not know what the intention for this demolition is? Is it to declare the people redundant? Is it to stuntify their career? What exactly is the plan to demolish your headquarters rendering thousands inoperable? He querried.
Also speaking during the union congress held at the Freedom Square of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Wednesday, Comrade Frances Akinjole, the General Secretary of the Air Transport Staff Senior Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), said that there was no any rational for the planned demolition of FAAN office and others in Lagos.
According to him, the present administration had barely two months to exit office, yet demolition of aviation agencies topped its priority list.
Akinjole further described the planned action of the minister as unwarranted, warning that the unions and their members would not be taken unawares by the government’s plans.
Akinjole, however, said that the unions were not against the planned demolition of the agency’s annex office in Lagos, but said the government must ensure the payment of the staff’s relocation allowances and other benefits accrued to them.
He also declared that the unions would protest every avenue by some people in government to convert government properties to their personal asserts.
The union leader, lamented that almost three years after the first batch of some workers in some of the agencies were relocated out of Lagos to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, their relocation allowances were yet to be paid, adding that most of the agencies, including FAAN had no office complexes in Abuja.
Also, General Secretary of Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Abdulrazaq Saidu, described the action of the minister in the past eight years as illegal.
According to him, the failure of the minister to constitute Board of Directors in the various agencies contravened the Acts setting up the agencies and the directive of the presidency.
He declared that the unions would challenge the attempt of the minister in the court of law.
Sirika had at various occasions since last December unveiled the plan of the Federal Government to demolish some of the agencies’ offices in Lagos.