Unions in the aviation industry say they are prepared to embark on another nationwide protest to stop any attempt to carry out the planned airport concession exercise alleged to be laced with several infractions.
The Secretaries-General, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association, ATSSSAN, say the action was to compel a rethink in a positive direction and there was no going back.
The planned concession of the four major airports in the country, that is Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port-Harcourt is part of the roadmap for the aviation industry.
Since the concession idea was mooted, unions in the industry have been opposed to it with the fears that there would be job losses and workers welfare would be unattended.
This has led to a series of protests and meetings between the aviation ministry including other stakeholders and assurances were given that due process would strictly be followed.
Unfortunately, the aviation unions are still not convinced that the process which had started with the involvement of the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission, ICRC would be transparently done especially with the recent business certificate presented to the aviation minister by the ICRC.
General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba alleged that the ICRC had not performed due diligence on the concession programme, adding that the Ministry and the Commission have both failed to comply with the established Public, Private Partnership PPP due process.
He also alleged that there were noticeable fundamental infractions in the handling of the airport concession project by the ICRC and the Ministry of Aviation.
“In the first place, FAAN ought to be the Initiator of this process that is according to the ICRC Act and processes but in this case, it is not. The project delivery team ought to have appointed by FAAN but in this case, it is the Minister which is wrong.”
His counterpart in the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP, Comrade Abdulrazak Saidu stressed that the only way to assure a truly competitive bidding process was through open bidding but in the case of the concession project, there was no such bidding exercise known to the public.
“What they are doing is illegal, how can we keep quiet and they will come and hijack it like Nigeria Airways, enough is enough in this industry.”
Also speaking on the matter, the scribe of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole stated that the unions were not against the concession of airports as being insinuated in some quarters but insisting the right thing was done and their offer of an alternative concession model looked into.
“We say we have several alternatives and we are asking them to put it to test.”
The union leaders said they look forward to the minister’s promise to engage with them on these issues and hoped it would be soon.