With huge debts running into over N30 billion and the recruitment of over 2,000 personnel in just one year, workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) have warned that the agency may become bankrupt.
To revamp the agency’s finances, the workers said that the organisations indebted to them must pay and the agency must stop the recruitment of more workers.
According to inside sources, the number of workers of the agency, including pensioners is over 7,000 and with heavy overhead, it would be extremely difficult for FAAN to maintain the airports, pay its workers and carry out projects.
THISDAY learnt that the recent plan by FAAN to withdraw services from airports that owe it huge amount of money was part of the measures to get back operational funds.
“Our revenue is running extremely very low due to debts and in addition to debts, FAAN has been recruiting since the last three years. These recruitments are not advertised or based on competence but in the last one year, FAAN has recruited about 2,000 people. They just send lists to us and we must take them. This has added to the financial burden.
“We cannot say that there is really reduction in revenue generation. In fact, there may be an increase, but our overhead is very high. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which collects most of our aeronautical revenues do not pay in time. They pay every two weeks,” one of the workers told THISDAY.
A FAAN official, however, disclosed that since the management of the agency introduced the cashless system for revenue collection, the loopholes through which funds were hitherto diverted had been closed.
“About 80 per cent of such loopholes have been closed but small airports on the country side are yet to embrace the cashless system, so those are the areas where we may still have leakages,” the official said.
He said that FAAN’s revenue could have been boosted if there are night landing at some airports. He cited example of Calabar, Enugu and Owerri airports, saying that cargo movement would have been high this seasons and aforementioned airports could have been receiving cargo this season, which would have earned revenue for FAAN.
The workers also decried the increase in overhead costs and said that since the privatisation of public power supply, the cost of power has multiplied while its services have not improved.
“Before the privatisation of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), which we pay in Lagos alone was from N30 million to N40 million. The highest we had ever paid was N200 million, but since the privatisation, our electricity bill is now above N500 million monthly. Sometimes we pay close to N1 billion . This is in Lagos alone. Yet we also have to pay huge sums for diesel (AGO) and because of poor power supply, we spend more money to power our generators. In most airports, there is no dedicated public power supply,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), FAAN branch, Idowu Adeshola said the unions formed a joint action committee to press for improved welfare for workers and would be staging a protest at the freedom square located at FAAN premises in Lagos today.
According to him, workers will raise issues such as the debts and recruitment of workers, as the unions must insist that FAAN must take urgent action to ensure that those indebted to it pay their debts.
Another FAAN official, who spoke to THISDAY, confirmed that recruitment has been going on in the last three years but noted that some workers are also going on retirement. He explained that those who go on retirement also join the queue of pensioners who must also be paid, except those on the contributory pension scheme.
“In the last two to three years a lot of people have been recruited but also some people have retired and the need to be replaced but those who retired would become pensioners,” he said.