Unions fault aviation sector roadmap, say action ill-timed

A coalition of aviation unions made up of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) have faulted what they described as muddling up of the Ministry of Aviation its roadmap project and the delay in executing many of the projects.

The unions at a joint press briefing at Lagos airport decried the planned demolition of the former head offices of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), saying that said the plan should be put on hold pending proper evaluation, planning, and better timing.

Aviation Metric had exclusively reported last week the plan to demolish offices belonging to many of the agencies and others as part of the Ministry of Aviation’s road map for the aviation industry and particularly for Lagos.

The office spaces occupied by FAAN, NAMA, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are to be demolished to give room to the ambition of turning the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos into an aerotropolis.

Protesting union members

 

The ramshackle former headquarters of FAAN in Lagos before all the agencies were relocated to Abuja a few years ago had long been a subject of demolition as the few workers still left in Lagos may be relocated until the completion of offices, hotels, cinemas, spars and all other facilities that would turn the airport into a business city.

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Secretary-General of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, who spoke for the unions also called on the Federal Executive Council to halt further approvals on the airports’ concession programme, and indeed any other Aviation Road Map project, pending a comprehensive forensic audit of the projects undertaken up to this point.

”It is our firm belief that such an audit will expose the activities so far to be wasteful of public funds and to be tilted away from national good. This is the least the Council can do in order to redeem itself, in the face of the accusation that the Federal Executive Council has so far been railroaded into giving consent to bad deals for the Country.”

According to them, the unions recognise some of the successes achieved under the current administration but the failure to deliver any of the programmes in the Aviation Road Map and the rush to quickly put something on the table for Nigerians call for concern.

”The projects include the establishment of a national carrier, Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul, aircraft leasing company, agro-allied airports, aerotropolis, and concessioning of the four major international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt. For inexplicable reasons, none of the above projects has been delivered up till now.

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“It is therefore not surprising that the Minister is presently in frenzy in an effort to deliver these projects, being that this administration is at its twilight. This rush to deliver at all cost has expectedly occasioned suspicion and a plethora of missteps which if not corrected will spell doom for the aviation industry in Nigeria, and which may prove exceedingly costly to amend in future”.

”We call on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), and Civil Society Organisations to mobilize all Nigerian workers and the Nigerian people to join in our effort to rescue our common patrimony from the grasp of the powers that be in the aviation industry, we call on FAAN staff and pensioners, and indeed the entire aviation workers, to stand ready for the fight of our lives in defense of our genuine rights and interests, and to save our industry from ruination”.

“We also call on all patriotic Nigerians to join this once and for-all battle to tell our elected leaders that our national assets do not belong to the few opportune individuals in government and their cronies for them to share and plunder, nor do they have powers to act as they please over national interests without our consent”.

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The unions also called on all firms that are interested in partaking in the opportunities inherent in the aviation roadmap to tarry a while and not commit their useful funds to the current arrangements in respect of the road map projects, adding that any firm that chooses to neglect this advice do so at their own peril, adding, “For our unions will do everything rightly possible to ensure that all such unwholesome efforts do not bear fruit until the right things are done. Particular reference must be made to the airport concession bidders and those related to Nigeria Air. We are shouting, “buyers beware”.

”We call on the Minister of Aviation to put his plan to demolish the Headquarters of FAAN, NAMA, and NCAA in Lagos on hold pending proper evaluation, planning, and better timing. We consider that this plan, in the name of the so-called aerotropolis, is ill-intended, ill-advised, and wrongly timed”.

“We hereby serve notice that any attempt to demolish any of these buildings at this time will be met with immediate action of cessation of work at all airports in Nigeria accompanied by public demonstrations nationwide.”, the unions said.

Wole Shadare