Aviation Unions have vowed the resist the planned concession of the four most profitable airports in Nigeria because the action will lead to job losses and the process is not transparent.
Aviation minister Hadi Sirika has commenced the process to concession the “Big Four” international airports—Nnamdi Azikiwe in Abuja, Malam Aminu Kano in Kano, Murtala Muhammad in Lagos and the Port Harcourt.
He has consistently said the concession is part of reforms in the aviation sector and claims it would create more jobs.
But aviation unions have said it is in bad faith.
- National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE),
- Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, (ANAP),
- National Union of Air Transport Employees, (NUATE)
- And Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, (ATSSSAN).
On Monday, their opposition erupted into protests on the streets of at least three capitals.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport, NUATE staged a protest and called it a prelude to shutting the entire aviation sector if the minister goes on with the concession.
NUATE chairman Ahmed Yusuf, said, “We are protesting because while we were in a lockdown, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika surprising received the outline business case (OBC) certificate for the concession of the four most viable airports out of the 22 airports in Nigeria. This came as a surprise and an insincere act. It lacked transparency and the staff were not carried along” he said.
“We totally reject the concession because it is not transparent. If the four viable airports are concessioned, the remaining 18 airports will die because these four airports sustain the other airports. It is a disaster waiting to happen and definitely jobs will be lost. The Lagos airport alone can sustain the 22 airports so why the concession?” He asked.
Samuel Wuyep, the Abuja chapter Chairman of ATTSSAN said: “The Unions have never agreed that the concession should happen. We oppose t and we will continue to oppose it. Procedurally, there are certain steps to take, we just went through the first step and the minister abandoned it and when to obtain a certificate from ICRC. There is no transparency in it.”
Spate of protests
Aviation workers took to the streets in Kano and Ibadan, calling the move an attempt to send them to early graves, since no provision was made to cater for their staff welfare after the concession.
According to them, “Without second thought, we reject airport concession. Concession, privatisation and sale are the same thing, don’t allow anybody to deceive you. And these four airports of Kano, Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt are the hub of Nigerian aviation, that sustain the remaining 18,” said Sama’ila Muhammad Alkali, the Kano state chapter chairman of ATSSSAN.
Alkali who is also the Public Relations Officer of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Kano state alleged that the concession was planning to sell the terminals, car parks and toll gates which generate over 65% of the sector revenue to the concessionaires.
“Under the agreement, the concessionaires after two years have the right to sack you if not satisfied with your service. So even if you have spent 20 or 30 years there, it’s as good as you’ve spent them in vain,” Alkali lamented.
He added that the planned concession of the airports also has security implication particularly now that the country battles different challenges.
“You want to sell airports to companies we don’t even know, when they are part of our borders, they are part of the security metro of every country. When you sell it to people, they will look at their profit and not the security implication. They could allow for import of weapons so long as they will make profit,” Alkali concluded.
In Ibadan, members of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and NUATE protested by walking through the streets of the city.
The Chairman of ATSSSAN, Oyewole Olayade, said, “Federal Government claimed that the airports are underdeveloped and cannot continue to fund them again.
“Government now believes that it should invite private investors to come forward to invest so that there will be fund to develop the facilities.
“Our stand has always been transparency. As critical stakeholders, we are supposed to be carried along in whatever government wants to do concerning concession.
“These four major airports generate the bulk of our revenues,’’ Olayade said.