Following the directive by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, asking agencies under the ministry to relocate to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, aviation unions have faulted the order, describing it as “ill-timed”.
The minister had in a letter dated May 4, 2020, reminded the agencies under aviation of a presidential directive for relocation of their corporate headquarters to Abuja within the next 45 days.
A former General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye, said the “relocation of these offices to Abuja now is ill-timed, thoughtless and insensitive,” adding that, “I rather would have expected that by now, far-reaching proactive policies that shall stimulate the return of the industry to profitability are on board.
An airline operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “All the airlines operate from here. So, you want us to go to Abuja often before getting things done. How does that work? It would certainly draw us back,”
But the unions which members are at the receiving end stressed that they had no problem with the relocation as long as the allowances due to those to be relocated were paid in advance.
The President of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Comrade Illitrus Ahmadu, recalled that it was not the first time such directive would be issued for agencies to relocate, saying that some of the agencies’ staff were relocated in 2012, but that it was later halted.
Ahmadu said, “Basically, it is not saying everyone should move from their various formations to Abuja. It is just saying corporate headquarters. In our industry today, the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) spend about three to four days in Abuja. So, it makes no sense. The operational offices can stay wherever they are.”
He stressed that the unions were not against the relocation order by the minister, but insisted that staff welfare should be properly addressed.