FAAN Workers Threaten to Shut Down Airports over Planned Concession


Chinedu Eze

Workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) and affiliated labour unions have vowed to shut down all air operations in Nigeria from would next week over the planned concession of two major airports in the country. The airports are the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The labour unions said they took the decision because the government is going ahead with the concession programme without carrying the workers along.

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo disclosed on Monday that government had given approval for the concession of the two busiest airports in the country.

But the aviation unions described the plan as fraudulent, insisting that the workers who would be affected by the concession plan were not carried along. They therefore decided they would disrupt airport activities until government meets and reaches agreement with them on the modalities for the concession, which they noted should be in a way that it would be beneficial to government, workers and the country.

President of NUATE, Safiyanu Mohammed told THISDAY in a telephone interview that the national body of the union would meet today as the joint action committee from FAAN met on Wednesday to reach agreement on the modalities and then communicate same to the national executive of the union.

Secretary of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye also told THISDAY the decision of the NUATE and other unions in the industry and national affiliates was to shut down all air operations if government chose to carry out the concession programme as it were without recourse to the expected procedures by carrying the workers along.

“We have said no to concession. We are not unmindful of the benefits of concession when properly done, but this government wants to concession the four major airports in the country. But one of the fundamental questions is what do they want to concession? Do they want to concession the terminals, the runways ways or the services? And they said that there won’t be job losses but we know that all over the world there will be job losses when concession takes place,” Abioye said.

He expressed the regret that the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had not met with labour to table government’s proposal and plans; rather, he kept them at bay.

“We are going to confront the government because what they are doing is fraudulent. We know that when concession is done transparently it is beautiful to behold and if concession is the key for infrastructural renewal, this is not the way to go about it. Sirika does not want be a servant but a slave driver,” Abioye added.

Also a senior official of ATSSSAN, FAAN branch, told THISDAY that it would be a herculean job for the company that becomes the concessionaire of the airports because of how it would deal with the existing concessionaires who already had many years deal with government at the airports designated for concession.

He also noted that these airports earmarked for concession are the ones that generate about 80 percent of FAAN’s revenue, which the agency uses to fund and manage the other airports; “so the challenge is, when you concession these airports, where will FAAN get money to manage the other airports not given out in concession?”

“What are they going to concession? Almost everything at the airports is already concessioned. We will go to court after we have shut down the airports the moment it becomes obvious that they will concession without attending to labour issues,” the senior ATSSSAN official said.