Organised labour has mandated the Nigerian government to start its concession experiment with non-viable airports, rather than the country’s four major airports: the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA); Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA); Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA) and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA).
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), kicking against the planned concession of these airports, warned that, to declare that the concession was a “forgone conclusion” was the peak of impunity, which this administration preached against.
Quadri Olaleye, President of TUC, said virtually all aspects of the country’s national life have been breached: “The social contract this government entered into when we voted for it has been grossly violated.”
Olaleye said concessions have been made in the past with nothing to show for them today.“We urge government to kick-start this project with the underutilised airports as a pilot scheme. If successful, then it can be replicated in other airports,” he said.
The TUC president stated that the tenacity with which the Minister of Aviation and his cronies were going about the project was a matter of concern to the labour movement.
He said, “It is a matter of the hand of Esau and voice of Jacob! The question is, why these four major airports? Why not invest in other airports scattered across the country? Why do they want to stifle and incapacitate Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), a parastatal created by an Act of parliament? From experience, past concessions of our common patrimonies have always been bedeviled with tales of woe.
“The Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2), owned and operated by the Bi-courtney Aviation Services Limited, is an eloquent testimony. The controversy surrounding the deal as per number of years to operate and amount of money owed FAAN are still lingering issues.”
The labour leader opined that, if the Minister and the forces behind him are sincere and genuinely desire a business model that would reposition the aviation industry, they should adopt the Green Field and Corporatization models, which empower new investors to, among others, construct new runways, terminal buildings and thereafter operate for a specified period of time before handing over to government.
“Under corporatization model, government gives the running of the business to a statutory board/agency to autonomously carry out operations of the airport on a purely commercial basis same way the Airports Company of South Africa operates,” he stated.
Noting that the Ethiopian Airports Authority, Egyptian Airports Authority, etc, are all doing great, Olaleye said Nigeria was more endowed in all ramifications than these countries, but it is obvious they have better economy managers.
He added, “How can we claim to be ‘Giant of Africa’ and yet cannot manage little things? What we have are powerful individuals while our institutions suffer! Nigeria has become a laughing stock before tiny countries in Africa! How can we make so much noise about fight against corruption yet cannot prevent wastage and excessive government interference, which has been the bane of the country’s development since independence?
“The congress is vehemently opposed to any move to concession/privatize our airports. Nigerians have toiled day and night to contribute their own quota to the growth of the aviation industry, nay the country at large.”