Workers under the aegis of Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and Airport Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) have describe the plans of the Federal Government to concession some major airports in the country as a fraud.
Recall that on September 11, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said the Federal Executive Council had approved the concession of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
Also on Tuesday, September 19, the government approved the concession of Kano and Port Harcourt airports, binging the total number to four.
Led by their unions, the workers who staged a peaceful protest around the airport vicinity insisted on Tuesday that the concessioning of the airports is not in the best interest of the Nigerian public and only benefits politicians through their cronies.
They also alleged that the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had earmarked N659 million for the marketing of the project to prospective investors, condemning the action as fraud.
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Addressing the workers at Freedom Square, the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Olatunji Abioye, accused Sirika of having ulterior motives, purporting that all avenues to ensure clarity and transparency in the whole exercise were rebuffed by the minister.
“This concession exercise is a fraud. If you want to sell Lagos and Abuja airports, all you need to do is to put it on the internet and interested investors will make enquiries, not by earmarking N659 million for the exercise. China is already requesting its part of the $500 million for the construction of some airports in the country and the project is still ongoing. Who will bear the brunt? It is the same FAAN.”
Also speaking at the rally, the president of the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Ahmadu Illitrus, said that the union leaders had engaged the minister on the planned concessioning of the airports, but without any tangible response.
Illitrus noted that the unions’ two members in the steering committee were in the dark about the processes despite their agitations for transparency, but vowed that the plan by the government would not see the light of day.
He specifically said that past concessions in the country had been marred with fraud, pointing to the ongoing concession agreement between Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited and FAAN as one example in the industry.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has insisted on the concessioning as approved by the FEC, saying the certification of MMA by the NCAA would allow government to value the airport and know how to relate with its concessionaire when the facility is eventually given out in concession.