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Controversy as unions oppose Lagos, Abuja airports’ concession

Controversy has started trailing the announcement of the proposed concessioning of two airports in the country as unions in the aviation sector have opposed government’s action.

Comrade Ahmed Danjuma, chairman, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), in an interview, said concession was not the way out of the present challenges facing the agency.

Ahmed said there is misplacement of priority and politicians’ intervention in the running of the system by flooding the agencies especially FAAN with workers employed without consulting the management of the organisations.

The union leader explained that most of the airports were built for political reasons without considering the economic benefits to the nation, adding that most of these airports depend largely on the viable airports to survive.

According to Ahmed, airports in other countries survive because they are maintained with the revenue generated by the same airport, saying that reverse remained the case in Nigeria.

He said: “Airports across the globe survive because they sustain the airport with generated revenue by those airports but in Nigeria, we use the generated revenue from international Airport Lagos to maintain others”.

He maintained that for airports in the country to pick up, government imposition of workers on the agency must stop in other for them to meet the targets, stressing that FAAN was in the position to effectively manage and maintain all airports in the country but regretted that heavy wage bill from politicians has continued to drag the agency backwards.

Ahmed warned on the dangers of concessioning especially in the areas of security.

Also, the Chairman of Century Security, Group Capt John Ojukutu (rtd), said there was no clear terms as to what the government wants to concession.

Ojukutu called on the government to declare the areas to be concessioned, warning that the airside was a no go area for them to concession.

The former airport commandant urged the government to invite the business gurus in the country to take over the management of the airport terminal buildings.

Ojukutu warned that anyone taking over the Lagos Airport and Abuja airport must also take responsibility of smaller airports under these two airports.

He queried the rationale behind the concessioning of only two airports out of the over 22 airports across the country, calling for the concessioning of all the airports in the country.

Ojukutu said government was not concentrating on the real issues facing the aviation sector, remaking that the loan to build the Chinese terminals was uncalled for and ill-advised. He said that most of the airports in the country were without airfield lightings while NAMA was in need of enhanced communication coverage across the country.

He urged government to concentrate on safety issues and not the airport buildings and further called on government to define areas to be concessioned.

The Secretary General, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Abdulrasaq Saidu, said FAAN, NAMA, NCAA and NiMet resolved at their Zonal Council meeting on Tuesday to oppose any form of concession in view of past and present corrupt tendencies being applied to favour few individuals.

“We say no to it and shall fight it with the last blood of our union. We wrote to PMB of the danger to security of Nigeria. We asked questions unanswered which must be given full details,” he said.

Saidu said almost all the revenue points at the airports have been concessioned, adding that nothing was left.

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