Row Over Airport Concession Deepens As NLC Summons Aviation Unions

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The controversy over the proposed concession of four major airports in Nigeria raged at the weekend as the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) summoned the three unions in the Nigerian aviation industry to Abuja over the development.

The three unions are the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).

There are indications that the labour, which had earlier rejected the proposed concession, may stand its ground by vehemently asking the Federal Government to halt the plan.

Four of the most vibrant airports in the country have been advertised for concession in the first phase of the exercise which is generating discordant tunes in the industry.

The airports slated for concession are the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja; Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omagwa, Rivers State and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano.

A September 6 letter signed by the NLC acting General Secretary, with the reference number: NLC/NS/A12/V.111/339 and addressed to the presidents and general secretaries of the unions said that the meeting was necessary in order for the unions and NLC to reach a common understanding on the controversial issue.

The meeting between NLC and the aviation unions is slated for Thursday in Abuja, it was learnt.

The letter read in part, “We refer to previous correspondences, particularly from NUATE on the raging issue of airport concessioning and hereby invite all affiliates of the congress in the aviation sector, NUATE, ANAP and NAAPE to a meeting on Thursday 16th September 2021 by 10:am at Labour House, Central Area, Abuja.

“The meeting is to discuss and reach a common understanding on the position of the aviation sector unions in particular and labour in general on the proposed concessioning of four major airports; Kano, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja.”

In a chat with Daily Trust, former General Secretary of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye argued that no minister could convince him that the proposed concession would not lead to job losses in the sector.

Our correspondent reports that the Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, had consistently assured that the concession would not lead to job losses, saying he would stop the process if a single job was lost as a result of concession.

But Abioye countered the Minister, saying the planned concession is not acceptable to Nigerians.

“What do you want to concession in our International Airports? Virtually everything is already concession. Then they changed, they said it is no longer the international airports, it is the terminal. Which part of the terminals do you want to concession?

“And we gave the minister options; Katsina and its environs are very good in Agro-allied business, let us use Katsina International Airport as a yardstick and let us see how things will move. If that is a success then we can incorporate it into others but the man felt offended.

“We said another option is Greenfield option, since we have lands all over the airports, bring in your friends or investors to come and partake in this business.

“No Minister in this country can tell me that when you do concession people will not lose their jobs; that would be a bloody lie. I have read one of their documents, a 66-page document and only on page 65 is labour issues mentioned.

“If for instance, they take 300 people from FAAN within six months and they find out that 100 people out of 300 will no longer be useful to them, they will bring them back to FAAN and FAAN will be responsible for their welfare. Where do they do such a thing? The concessionaire will take 60% and you that own the property will take 40%. Where does such a thing happen? What is the man bringing to the table? That is the issue.”

By: Abdullateef  Aliyu

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