Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), branch said on Wednesday that they are opposed to plans by the Federal Government to concession or privatise four viable airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
The pensioners said it is against national interest to concession the four major airports as the persons or company to be contracted to handle these international airports could be hired or compromise to allow weapons into the country.
Speaking at a briefing in Lagos Wednesday, The National Chairman of NUP, FAAN, branch Comrade Rasak Ope and the Administrative Secretary, Comrade Emeka Njoku said previous attempts by government to achieve any form of concession in the aviation sector has been fraught with controversies.
They said rather than concession the airports, FAAN, should be allowed to run existing airports without interference.
They said the last administration excluded FAAN from privatisation or concession based on security implications .
They urged the Federal Government to give more priority to unviable airport rather than its planned privatalisation or concession of the viable airport terminals.
They said since the minister of aviation, Capt Hadi Sirika is determined to make the airports profitable, he should concentrate on unviable airports and make them viable.
They explained that airports across the world represent a cardinal posture of any country’s sovereignty, hence handling them to individual or group of people pretended danger to the country.
They said previous attempts to privatise some government entities including PHCN, Ajaokuta Steel, NITEL and the Nigeria Airways did not yield the desired results.
“How can we give out our national heritage to individual to operate, thereby undermining Nigeria sovereignty, losing sight of security implications, which is supposed to be paramount in every sphere of any nation.
“Therefore, airports should not be seen as buying and selling ventures, where profit should be the yardstick
“Airports represent public interest such as economic, social activities and international connections, from country to country and state to state,” they said.
They further said : ” Contracting airports to a person or company to handle the four major international airports could be dangerous as they interested parties could be hired or compromise to allow weapons into the country including people of in question unable characters in the world.
“They can use this laxity to flock into the country and former trouble which can lead to barrage deaths of citizens or unrest.
“Not at the time when Nigeria is still battling with Book Haram, agitation of state Biafra and militancy. Therefore we should not open more ways for trouble in the name of ‘we want our airports to be more viable and put Nigerians into danger,” it said.
“Who will be responsible for the assets and liabilities of FAAN?, Has the Act establishing FAAN been abrogated or amended by the National Assembly before such transformation take place?” It said.
The union noted that FAAN had tried such concession in the past with Maevis on revenue collection and its experience was unpalatable.
“We are strongly convienced that the same ventures are back with the same convincing proposals to the Ministers and at the end of the day, the concessionaires will disappoint and legal battle will commence.
” The staff and pensioners will suffer while infrastructure will continue to dilapidate the more, passenger will groan,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) has taken over Hometel Car Park close to the international wing of the Lagos Airport following what would seem like an unwillingness of the current concessionaires to remit funds collected on the authority’s behalf.
This development came to light when the unions, last Thursday took over the management of the car park from its concessionaire over allegations of non-remittance to FAAN for over two years.
The unions also accused the management of the car park of lack of proper concessioning agreement with FAAN, saying that it signed and violated part of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the FAAN management, by unilaterally raising the car park fee from N200 to N500 per car without informing FAAN.
It was learnt that Managing Director of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma on Monday backed the industry unions in its takeover of the Hometel Car Park due to the level of indebtedness and has ordered authority’s Legal Department to take a look at the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, it signed with the owners of the company.
The meeting to discuss the takeover of the car park held at the headquarters of FAAN in Lagos.
On the side of the management were the Ag. Director of Commercial, Mr. Toyin Okpaise, General Manager, Rentals, FAAN, Deputy General Manager, Corporate Communications, FAAN, Mr. Onyekpere Nnaekpe and other directors in the agency.
The unions were led by the President of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Comrade Benjamin Okewu, Secretary-General of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Comrade Olayinka Abioye, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of NUATE, FAAN Branch among many others.
At the meeting, which ran till evening on Monday, the unions specifically said that it would not allow the concessionaire to continue to render the service on behalf of the agency, describing it as a “chronic debtor.”
Acting General Secretary of NUATE, Comrade Olayinka Abioye confirmed the development.
Abioye revealed that the agency had ordered its legal department to look at the naughty areas in the MoU between the two parties, stressing that since its takeover, the staff had been generating enough revenues that would make the payment of salaries easier at the end of the month.
He said, “We have resolved the matter and FAAN staff have taken over the control of the car park from Hometel. At the meeting, the Managing Director of FAAN, ordered the legal department to critically look at the MoU with the owners of the company.
“The management supported the takeover of the car park. If you have a concessionaire that is not generating revenue as supposed to you, what will you do with such a company? It was a very reassuring meeting. We will generate enough revenues that will be enough for us to pay salaries at the end of the month.