Ibadan Airport workers on Monday held a peaceful march around the major streets of the city to protest against Federal Government’s plan to concession four international airports in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protest was organised under the umbrella of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE).
The two bodies and representatives of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners carried placards bearing different inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read: “Airport concession lacks transparency,” “Nigerians rise against the siege on our common patrimony,” “Job loss looms in the aviation industry” and “FAAN pay our pension liabilities.”
Other inscriptions are: “Our airports are undervalued,” “Federal Government, please resolve MM2 concession,” “Airport concessions, a threat to the aviation industry,” “Chinese loan repayment threatened by concession” and “selective concessions, ploy to destroy FAAN.”
The Chairman of ATSSSAN, Mr Oyewole Olayade, who spoke on behalf of the unions, said the protest was to air their views on the government’s proposed concession of the airports.
Olayade listed the affected airports to include the Muritala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, Aminu Kano Airport, Kano, Nnamdi Azikwe Airport, Abuja and Port Harcourt Airport.
“Federal Government claimed that the airports are underdeveloped and cannot continue to fund them again.
“Government now believes that it should invite private investors to come forward to invest so that there will be fund to develop the facilities.
“Our stand has always been transparency. As critical stakeholders, we are supposed to be carried along in whatever the government wants to do concerning concession.
“These four major airports generate the bulk of our revenues,’’ Olayade said.
He further said that the committee set up to examine the modalities on how the airports would be concessioned had yet to brief the national executive of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) unions.
Olayade said: “The committee met with our national leadership, where our executive asked questions on the area to be concessioned but the government could not come up with a genuine answer.
“At the meeting, they promised to get back to us on the modalities and procedure they want to use but to our surprise, they didn’t come back.
“All we hear, especially the last time the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, appeared before the National Assembly, is that federal government has commenced with the policy.
“He made it clear that it was a government policy to concession the four airports and that there was no going back.
“We know it is government property but the critical stakeholders should be carried along,’’ Olayade said.
Also, the Chairman of NUATE, Gbenga Kayode, urged the federal government to carry the executives of the unions along in major policies that affect FAAN workers.