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The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt Rabiu Yadudu said the agency and some others have written to the Minister of Aviation on the need for government to actively protect aviation from the actions of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), adding that airports are not avenues for people to come and exercise violent and mob behavior.
A visibly angry FAAN MD had taken a swipe at the action of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) last week Wednesday that disrupted flight operations across the country putting a lot of passengers in a difficult situation and led to huge losses for airlines, investors and service providers. Aside from Yadudu, not a few had condemned the actions of the unions, with many describing it as ‘irresponsible’.
Similarly, Chairman of Resort Group and operator of Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2), Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN) described the action of the unions as lawless and illegal.
Babalakin who spoke to journalists at the launch of its Art Gallery at the weekend at MMA2 said it was wrong for the protesting unions to block other people’s businesses because of a misunderstanding with another person that had nothing to do with aviation.
“Unions have the right to protest but they must also follow the law. There are principles of law that you must follow when you want to protest. You don’t come and block me here because you have a dispute with somebody else. If you have a dispute with me, then you can do whatever is right but you can’t say because you have a dispute with another state and you come and block me here. I think they should find time to explain to the unions that they should just follow the rules, follow the law, let us be compliant”.
While the action lasted, airlines counted their losses. It is not certain how much losses they incurred. There were indications that the losses could be as high as N1.5 billion.
There are indications that the industry may have lost about N25 billion in the five years to impromptu industrial actions that are not only avoidable but ‘senseless’.
The NLC alleged that the Workers Day rally was disrupted by thugs alleged to be agents of the Imo state government on May 1.
The decision of the action tagged, “No Flight To Owerri” was reached Monday night at the end of an emergency joint central working committee meeting of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Speaking after leading the National Assembly members on the Aviation Committee on a fact-finding team to demolish buildings on airport land in Lagos at the weekend, Yadudu disclosed that his agency and others in the aviation industry had written a strong letter to the Minister of Aviation calling on the government to directly protect aviation from NLC and their similar actions.
He stated that there are many decent avenues to seek for redress in Nigeria, noting that this is not the 1970s.
“Nigeria has evolved, aviation has evolved and everything else has evolved. NLC needs to evolve its processes and its ways and means of getting what they want. There is no room for it in modern society. We have written and delivered to the minister that we need the government to actively protect aviation from the actions of the NLC. Airports are not avenues for people to come and exercise violent and mob behavior. It is not good”.
It is not good. NLC should stay away from aviation. I didn’t say stay away from FAAN or airports; I said stay away from aviation. If they stay away it will be good for us. So long as they keep on picketing, they should stay away. We need stakeholders’ confidence in aviation. Without confidence that you will always come in and get services, nobody will come. If the industry is killed through a lack of confidence and employment, what happens? It is Nigeria that will lose, so NLC should stay away from aviation; all of us”.
“Our letter has been sent and we call on the government to please protect us from all such actions. I want to commend all our aviation unions because none of them participated in this. It shows understanding because this is where they earn their livelihood. The action of the NLC is very unbecoming. In fact, it undermined aviation workers and other workers because people lost their flights. Sick people’s condition became worse and I prayed no one died.
“What happened was very regrettable and a sign of ego massage and I think that has no place in aviation, especially given the second reason which is illegal; aviation in Nigeria is an essential service and there is no room for picketing or blocking services because all Nigerians need it, 100 million people need it. They should not come and massage their ego in an airport where it is already prohibited by law to come and picket”.
Yadudu disclosed that the FAAN would quickly move to erect barricades on the structures that were demolished to make it impossible for a person to build their houses on drainages, oil pipes, and areas that clearly belong to the authority.
To forestall a repeat of allowing people to build houses in non-designated sensitive areas around the airport, he said FAAN purchased an automatic radar survey system that is thermal with infrared-based that zooms around 360 and has a span of 8km which is way beyond the airport itself and can spot anything as big as a rabbit moving.
He defended the position of the agency over its action, saying, “FAAN has never set out deliberately to destroy but remove. People are not listening but we kept on doing the same thing, insisting and talking and they kept on building. Now we have another bigger reason for doing this; the certification of the airport.
“The international community knows it is a violation and nobody will certify you with that. These violations are part of the items they gave time to remedy before they re-do it the second time. We asked them for one year or two but it took us four years. It took so long because we actually were giving the stakeholders direction and a lot of time. Of course, we have been here for about 7-8 years.Google+