Lagos and Ilorin — Aviation workers yesterday paralysed activities at major airports in the country to express their opposition to the concession of Lagos and Abuja airports.
The unions are the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE).
The Federal Government had last week announced the concession of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), the busiest airport in the country and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
However, the workers rejected the proposed concession which they describe as fraudulent.
At the MMA in Lagos, members of the unions embarked on a peaceful protest to kick against the plan even as they called for the head of Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika.
Other unions which joined the protest were National Union of Pensioners (NUP), FAAN branch and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) with other stakeholders in the aviation industry.
The workers assembled at the Freedom Square as early as 8:00am on Tuesday bearing placards and chanting solidarity songs to drive home their rejection of the proposed concession of the airports.
They also built a coffin like structure with inscription, “Sirika must go”.
Other inscriptions on the placards were: “Osinbajo is misled”; “Sirika renovated N50 million Abuja runway with N10 billion”; “Sirika, why mortgage FAAN for your personal ambition”, “Hadi’s concession is fraud”; “Sirika must go”, amongst others.
Addressing the protesting workers, Secretary General of NUATE, Comrade Olayinka Abioye said concession is not the solution to the infrastructural decay at the airports, blaming the development on political interference.
According to him, major aviation agencies include the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria were hampered by political interference.
Abioye alleged that the Aviation Ministry had earmarked about N659 million to see that the concession project works while N125 million out of the total sum is said to have been allotted solely for travelling for marketing and campaign of the concession project.
“We are not opposed to any system that will improve in what we do. By the way what are we concessioning? Concession may not be the answer but proper management. Let us have full autonomy for FAAN”, Abioye said.
In his address, President of ATSSAN, Illitrus Ahmadu noted that there is no transparency in the process.
Comrade Ahmadu who was present to rally in his capacity and also as representative of NUATE President said that the unions are not convinced that the government is sincere with the concession process, stressing that the unions are ready to use every resource at their disposal to resist the concession plan.
Addressing workers at Ilorin airport, the Chapter Chairman of ATSSSAN, Comrade Alonge Isaac,while speaking to our correspondent during that protest said they are all part of government but what they are after is for things to work out well for all in aviation industry.
According to Isaac,”It usually pain us when things are not working out fine. What is government mission for the concession of airport? We are saying no to concession with one voice. We want government to come to round table with us and see how we can join hands to make sure that things work out perfectly.”
Also speaking is the Secretary of NUATE, Comrade Sanni Abdulazeez, who disclosed that the protest was suppose to hold in Abuja and Lagos aone but later got call late last night for all airport workers to join it.