Aviation pensioners oppose planned concession of airports

Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) branch yesterday said that they are opposed to plans by the Federal Government to concede or privatise four viable airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

The pensioners said it was against national interest to concession the four major airports as the persons or company to be contracted to handle these international airports could be hired or compromise to allow weapons into the country.

Speaking at a briefing in Lagos, National Chairman of NUP, FAAN, branch Comrade Rasak Ope and the Administrative Secretary, Comrade Emeka Njoku said previous attempts by government to achieve any form of concession in the aviation sector has been fraught with controversies. They said rather than concession the airports, FAAN, should be allowed to run existing airports without interference.

They said the last administration excluded FAAN from privatisation or concession based on security implications.

They urged the Federal Government to give more priority to unviable airport rather than its planned privatalisation or concession of the viable airport terminals.

They said since the minister of aviation, Capt Hadi Sirika  is determined to make the airports profitable, he should concentrate on unviable airports and make them viable.

They explained that airports across the world represent a cardinal posture of any country’s sovereignty, hence handling them to individual or group of people pretended danger to the country.

They said previous attempts to privatise some government entities, including PHCN, Ajaokuta Steel, NITEL and the Nigeria Airways did not yield the desired results.

The union leaders said, “How can we give out our national heritage to individuals to operate, thereby undermining Nigeria sovereignty, losing sight of security implications, which is supposed to be paramount in every sphere of any nation.

“Therefore, airports should not be seen as buying and selling ventures, where profit should be the yardstick.

“Airports represent public interest such as economic, social activities and international connections, from country to country and state to state.

“Contracting airports to a person or company to handle the four major international airports could be dangerous as they interested parties could be  hired or compromise to  allow weapons into the country including people of in question unable characters in the world.

“They can use this laxity to flock into the country and former trouble which can lead to barrage deaths of citizens or unrest.

“Not at the time when Nigeria is still battling with Book Haram, agitation of state Biafra and militancy.

“Therefore, we should not open more ways for trouble in the name of ‘we want our airports to be more viable and put Nigerians into danger.

“Who will be responsible for the assets and liabilities of FAAN?, Has the Act establishing FAAN been abrogated or amended by the National Assembly before such transformation take place?”

The union noted that FAAN had tried such concession in the past with Maevis on revenue collection and its experience was unpalatable.

“We are strongly convinced that the same ventures are back with the same convincing proposals to the Ministers and at the end of the day, the concessionaires will disappoint and legal battle will commence.

“The staff and pensioners will suffer while infrastructure will continue to dilapidate the more, passenger will groan,” they said.

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