There was confusion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) office of the Accident Investigation Bureau –Nigeria (AIB-N) following an order for the staff of the agency to relocate to Abuja.
This is ahead of the planned demolition of the building for the extension of the MMIA new terminal.
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Daily Trust reports that the staff members were angry that they were being asked to relocate to Abuja without their accommodation and other allowances paid.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had in 2020 ordered all aviation agencies to relocate their headquarters to Abuja.
Since then, only a handful of staff of the agencies had relocated as others insisted they would not leave until their allowances were paid.
However, for the staff of the AIB, a memo from the Administration Department directed them to resume in Abuja on or before Monday, threatening that anyone that fails to comply would be sanctioned.
A visit to the AIB-N showed most of the staff at the premises moving their personal and official belongings out of their offices.
However, most of them expressed regrets that they were only given two working days to comply with the directive when relocation allowances had not been paid.
“As I am talking to you, we are yet to get our January salaries while our allocation allowances had not been paid. Also in Abuja, there are no enough offices and there is no accommodation for staff or our family members. How do you expect us to settle down under this condition?”
Out of the 245 workers of AIB-N, no fewer than 100 of them are based in Lagos, which is the hub of aviation activities in Nigeria.
The source said: “We on Wednesday received a letter from the admin department, which directed us to move to Abuja without prior notice. We were given till Monday to relocate to Abuja even when we don’t have a befitting office there and nothing is being said about our accommodation. And as we stand, no one is talking about relocation allowances to the workers.
“Even, in the civil service rule, you can’t compel staff to relocate without the payment of relocation allowances. Staff are using their personal resources to relocate government property to Abuja.”
Air Union speaks
General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ocheme Aba, confirmed the relocation order.
He, however, said that some senior staff of the bureau, especially those in the finance department had been paid relocation allowances since 2020, but refused to move.
Aba also confirmed that most of the staff were yet to get January salaries, but said that the Ministry of Aviation promised to pay them once they relocate to Abuja.
He said: “Information I gathered is that some of the staff have been paid relocation allowances for some period now, but refused to move to Abuja. As you are aware, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) last week sent a letter to the agency that they wanted to demolish the building for apron for the new terminal at the Lagos Airport.
“Because of this, the management now said everyone should relocate to Abuja. Though, they have not been given relocation allowances, but the ministry promised that all their outstanding would be paid to them once they move.”