ANTI-concession protest: Aviation unions in supremacy tussle

By Lawani Mikairu

lagos—Workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria yesterday  morning disrupted activities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport as they protested the proposed concession of the airport and the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, Abuja.

But a supremacy war between the unions on issue of official recognition, led to a shouting match among the officials.

This division affected the unions plans to jointly address federal government’s planned concession. Official of the unions who addressed the gathering made it clear that they will stand between the federal government and the concessioning of the nation’s  airports.

The protest was led by the National Union of Air Transport Employees, the National Union of Pensioners and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association in Nigeria.

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had, last Monday, announced that the Federal Executive Council had agreed to the concession of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; and Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.

However, after the initial disagreement, the unions were able to mobilize their members who carried placards with various inscriptions like: “Hadi Sirika renovated N50 million Abuja runway for N10 billion”, ” Yemi Osibanjo is misinformed”, ”Concession is evil, Hadi Sirika must go” and marched round some roads within the airport.

Secretary General of NUATE, comrade Olayinka Abioye who spoke during the rally said that the Vice President could not concession the nation’s airports via Twitter. He also expressed shock at the amount allegedly earmarked by the Minister in order to do a road show for the airports’ concession stating that “ it is tending towards criminality in this age of digitization and the social media.

“The Vice President cannot go on his Twitter handle to say airports have been concessioned. Nigerian government is not run on Twitter. The VP said two airports will be concessioned and the minister says four, so they are in confusion, both minister and VP do not understand each other.”

“FG is budgeting N600 million to advertise the airports overseas. But if you concession the cash cows Lagos and Abuja what about Ibadan and Akure? They will die automatically,”Abioye said.

Also speaking, president of ATSSSAN, Comrade Amadu Ilitrus called on all the unions to shun the in-fighting and come together to create a stronger and more vibrant position. “We must negotiate from a position of strength. We must mobilise and get it right,”Ilitrus added.

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