Factional NLC, Civil Society Groups Protest At Lagos Airport
…Blocks Roads Leading To Airport
...Passengers ,Commuters Trek To Terminals ,Destinations
…Threatens To Shut Down Lagos Airport Completely
…As FAAN Assures Passengers Of Adequate Services
Members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) belonging to the Comrade Ayuba Wabba led faction and Civil Society Organisations yesterday blocked the road leading to the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos at the Ikeja end resulting to heavy hold up and leaving air travellers, commuters and motorists stranded.
The road which was blocked for about six hours affected the free flow of traffic while intending air passengers have to alight from the vehicles and trekked to the various terminals.
The blockade and protest is in fulfillment of the threat by the Comrade Wabba Ayuba faction of the NLC to go ahead with the national wide strike after the talks with the Federal Government broke down.
The NLC, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and other civil society groups gathered at the roundabout close to forte oil and Arik Air, where they sang solidarity songs and made anti Federal Government speeches as it concerns the hike in petrol pump price from N86 to N145 per litre.
At the scene of the protest close to 10 Police vehicles, which brought in policemen from both the Airport Police Command and beyond were seen monitoring the protesting groups
Some of the groups that were at the Lagos Airport in NLC, Joint Action Front(JAF),Academic Staff Union of University(ASSU),Committee for the Defence of Human Rights(CDHR) among others.
Speaking at the protest, the Secretary, JAF, Comrade Abiodun Aremu , stated that the strike action embarked on by labour and other groups is to resist the wicked increases in fuel price and electricity tariff .
He added that there was no going back on the strike brought about by the increases in the price of fuel from N86 per litre to N145 per litre, an increase he argued has further make thing difficult for Nigerians.
The protesters vowed to continue to block and occupy the airport until the Federal Government reverses the pump price of fuel to the former price of N86 per litre.
While protesting some of the protesters carried placards with the inscription, “Stop Importation of petroleum product .Fix existing local refineries, Stop dehumanizing Nigerians with the increase of fuel from N86 to N145per litre, increasing the pump price of fuel from N86 to N145 is illegal and it cannot stand among other inscriptions .
Also speaking, a member of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Barrister Malachy Ugwumadu, stated that a people united can never be defeated.
He added that the Federal Government must revert to the old pump price of N86 per litre, adding that besides it was not the duty of the executive to increase the pump price of fuel .
Ugwumadu further argued that since the Federal Executive fixed the pump price and instead of allowing the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Authority, (PPPRA)
The Barrister added that what the FG has done is illegal and Nigerians will not take this.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Airport protesters have vowed to shut down the airport totally on May 19,2016 and that they would ensure that no flight takes off from the airport.
But in a swift reaction to the threat to completely shut down the airport, the General Manager, Public Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Yakubu Dati , said, “As you can see, flights have commenced operation as early as scheduled and we have had morning flights early this morning from Lagos, Murtala Muhammed Airport, the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja and other airports across the country. So we have been doing our schedule operations across the country for all the airlines except of course where we have delays due to scarcity of aviation fuel, Jet A1, workers are out ensuring that the activities go on as schedule”.
On the plan by NLC and other civil society groups to shut down the airport completely, “Well, it is a free country but we of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria are committed in ensuring that we give the services that we are been pay for and that is why we are out to ensure that we continue with our operations and we also want to thank the security agencies who have ensured that the operations at the airports across the country are going on as scheduled and the staff are also turning up to ensure that they provide the service that we are been paid for.”
On what FAAN will do to ensure that the agency staff does not join NLC to shut down the airports tomorrow, Dati said that FAAN staff are aware that the agency does not get allocation from the government to pay salaries and as a result they are ready to come out enmasse to ensure that airports operate and provide services.
In his words, “The fact remains that, FAAN does not rely on revenue allocation from the Federal Government to pay salaries and our staff are well aware of that and that is why, they have come out enmasse to ensure that we operate because if we do not open our airports to operate and give services, we may not be able to raise the money that we need to pay ourselves for the work, so we have a responsibility if we want to get our money to ensure that we work and get paid for the services that we provide because we are service providers”.
On his message to air passengers in view of the recent development, Dati said, “Well our message to passengers is that the airports are all open, we are all operating and our staff are already at their desks to ensure that we provide the services that we are paid for and we will continue to do so within our capacity”.