The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) in what they called “Unhealthy and dangerous for the industry” over the weekend accused the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, of running affairs in the aviation industry like a one-man show.
NUATE at the weekend pointed out how the minister failed to deliver projects such as the suspended national carrier, aircraft leasing company, and national aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility.
Comrade Ben Nnabue, NAUTE President, used the May Day celebrations to address the union’s frustration over the unjust treatment meted to aviation workers by the Salaries and Wages Commission and the Head of Service.
Nnabue said: “We have persistently pointed out the folly of a one-man-show in the governance of the sector. As we all know, there are no governing boards for all the agencies in aviation, and the CEOs being direct employees of the Minister of Aviation, and the minister being the chairman of all the so-called Interim Boards, the affairs of the entire aviation industry has been contrived to be totally in the hands of one man.
Sirika had on assumption of office rolled out an aviation development masterplan, which has the launch of a new national carrier, concession of the airports, aircraft leasing company and maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) organisation among others in focus.
“This is extremely dangerous, preposterous and truly objectionable. All our protestations on the subject over the past years have fallen on deaf ears. That stakeholders in the industry have tolerated this circumstance for all of six years is incomprehensible,” Nnabue said.
Nnabue added that whereas a State government like Akwa Ibom has since successfully launched its airline without any fanfare, “our country has woefully failed in its attempt to birth a national carrier after over 10 years of labour and colossal financial waste.
“The proposed aircraft leasing company, national aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility and aerotropolis development, all flagship programmes of this federal administration, have all suffered paralysis, despite massive support from all stakeholders and informed Nigerians.
“They all followed the same path; bitten by the bug of hidden agenda, suffered the ailment of ill-motive to death, presently in the coffins of infidelity to the national cause, and waiting to be buried in the grave of ‘onemanism’. I enjoin all NUATE members to join hands in prayer for a better tomorrow for our dear nation’s aviation industry.”
The union leader also spoke on the concession being championed by the minister, describing it as a travesty aimed at draining the nation.
“The case of selective airports concession is already well told. Our irreversible opposition to the unjustifiable programme is based on unassailable evidence of unwholesomeness and is well documented. We call on the National Assembly, the Federal Executive Council and the Presidency to work together to put a halt to the travesty called airports concession and save our dear Nation from further draining of the national treasury.”
On the welfare of workers, he said: ”We have become tired of begging for our rights in respect of the stated issues of Conditions of Service and minimum wage, which has been denied aviation workers for two years running. And we have lost our patience on the matter.
“Accordingly, all our branches in the agencies concerned should follow the example of NCAA and convene their respective Joint Action Committee (JAC) meetings to mobilise for industrial action, as several ultimatums on the matter have gone by without any result whatsoever. Actions will be ordered from May 17, 2021,” he said.
President of the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Kabir Yahaya Gusau, urged members not to be tired of pressing for a better sector, saying the road to ideal labour relations and impeccable welfare were still far ahead.