By Adekunle Williams
The four aviation unions have condemned the concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano to Corporacion American Airports Consortium without due process.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the unions comprised of: National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP).
The NUATE Secretary General, Mr Ocheme Aba (NUATE) made this known at a media briefing in the presence of other aviation unions secretaries-general on Thursday.
NAN reports that the briefing was with the themed: “Buyer Beware of Purported Concession of Airports”.
The unions listed five issues: faulty foundation, labour issues, contempt of court, lack of transparency and one man show as contention pertaining to the purported airports concession.
Aba said the unions’ effort to bring the situation to the public domain was to alert the incoming government to the booby-traps being enacted for its downfall by the outgoing government.
The union scribe said the unions wished to state strongly and categorically that their commitment to ensure that the stated shady concession exercise does not see the light of day was total and unwavering.
He decried m that this present concession exercise falled far short of legal and acceptable limits and standards of airports concession by global best practices.
Aba said they would not allow any illegal concessionaire near any airport facility in Nigeria, and any effort to use force against us will be met with equal and opposite reaction.
On the faulty foundation of the concession, the union scribe said the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace which carried out the concession had no authority to do so.
He said: To begin with, the Federal Ministry of Aviation (and Aerospace) does not own, or run, any airport in the country.
“By the dictates of the governing Act of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), ownership and management of all Federal Government airports are fully vested in the Authority; not the Ministry.
“On the other hand, the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) procedure document states, with respect to the agency that wishes to concession a facility that:
“The public entity should have enabling authority to transfer its responsibility – enabling legislative and policy framework or an Administrative Order to that effect”.
“By the combined import of the FAAN Act and the ICRC procedures manual, it is evidently manifest that the entire airports concession is based on an incurably faulty foundation,” he said.
Aba said on the labour issues, the unions surmised that labour issues around the concession of airports were far from being resolved before the two airports were illegal concession to the American company.
The union scribe noted that the three issues were: FAAN workers were not airports-tied in their employments, all employees were considered as a whole unit.
He said in this regard, the concession of the four most major airports away from FAAN would necessarily cause a cessation of the employment of all the staff involuntarily.
Aba, therefore said their unions stand ready to negotiate redundancy benefits for all staff and pensioners of FAAN before any airports could be concession
He said: “As FAAN pension liability is unfunded, the federal government’s promise to provide this funding has to be actualised immediately.
“The pension liability is estimated to be about N120 billion. Before redundancy can be discussed, individual liabilities of staff and pensioners have to be determined through up-to-date actuarial valuation for 2022.”
Aba said the entirety of the airports concession programme of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace was presently a subject of legal action by their unions at the National Industrial Court, Lagos Jurisdiction.
According to him, Both the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace and FAAN are defendants in the case and have been duly served the summons.
He, therefore, said by continuing with the concession exercise in spite of having been served with court action, the outgoing Minister of Aviation was in contempt of the court.
Aba said they also flayed the present one man show the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace was running the airports alleging that his inaction had only short changed the collective aspirations and vision for the future of their airports and the industry.