Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) has said that unions in the country’s unions would continue to kick against the planned concession of some major airports across the country by the newly re-appointed Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation.
The union also raised the alarm over the existence of numerous airstrips in the country, warning that safety and security could not be guaranteed in some of them.
Comrade Abdulrazaq Saidu, the General Secretary of ANAP, in an interview with aviation journalists over the weekend at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos said that the insecurity across the country made the proposal unfavourable and dangerous.
He also noted that if government scaled through with the proposal, several direct staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would lose their jobs, while thousands of indirect staff would also be affected, stressing that this negated the policy of the government to create more jobs for qualified Nigerians.
Recalled that concession of four airports; Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano in the first phase of the exercise were parts of the six-point agenda of Sirika in 2016, but it the industry unions severely kicked against the plan, fearing loss of jobs for its members.
“We are saying capital no to the planned concession of our airports. This is simple, we have security challenges in the country and we can’t leave our security in the hands of individuals or private organisations that we don’t trust or know their backgrounds.
“Just recently, somebody beat the security to gain access to the aircraft at Lagos Airport. If the government concessions the major gateways, it will be a haven for drug peddlers, money launderers and importation of unapproved ammunitions. We will be sitting on the keg of gunpowder.”
Saidu also warned the governments against some airstrips across the country, pointing out that numerous nefarious activities were ongoing in some of them.
For instance, he queried the management of Osubi airstrip, wondering how the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) continued to provide navigational air services to the airstrip without the presence of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), especially officials of Aviation Security (AVSEC).
“For instance, Osubi airstrip is under a private company, which I think is dangerous for this country. Apart from this, there are lots of airstrips that are not known to many of us in this country. Osubi airstrip has been a challenge to this country and we must know who runs that airstrip.
“Why should NAMA provide navigational services to an airstrip that FAAN has no presence? External aggression can come from such airstrips,” he said.
The union leader, however, backed the government in its plans to birth a new national carrier for Nigeria after the liquidation of the former, Nigeria Airways in 2004.
But, for the national carrier not to run into comatose in the next few years, Saidu canvassed for limited shares for Federal and State governments, insisting that its modus operandi must be laid bare before the entire stakeholders in the industry.
He warned that the composition of a new national carrier in the mode of Nigeria Airways would fail, noting that investors – individual and core investors should take the lead in the planned airline.
He described Sirika as a “good man” who wanted the best for the industry, but warned him against the activities of “sycophants in the ministry.”