Concession: Aviation Unions Warn Nigerians, Int’l Entities Not To Invest In Abuja, Kano Airports
...Say Process Lacks Transparency
…Has Faulty Foundation
Asthe concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano to American Airports Consortium continued to generate controversy, aviation unions have warned the Nigerian and International public to beware as the purported concession by the Federal Government is an exercise in abnormality, absurdity and in futility.
This is just as the unions stated categorically that the process to the purported concession of the two airports lack transparency and will easily win the award for the most secretive government exercise ever.
The unions’ position is contained in a statement titled, ‘World Press Conference on the Purported Concession of Abuja and Kano Airports: Again, Buyers Beware!!!’ signed by the General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees(NUATE), Comrade Ucheme Abba, Deputy General Secretary of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole, General Secretary, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu and National Secretary, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, FAAN Branch, Comrade Emeka Njoku and made available to aviation journalists yesterday.
The unions warned that anyone or entity that may proceed to commit any form of resources to such endeavor is engaging in sheer wastefulness, as the claimed approval of the Federal Executive Council( FEC), if such really exists, is a non-starter.
The unions argued that it their believe that members of FEC were overcome by the spirit of Camaraderie as institutionalised in the present posture of the outgoing government for last minute bonanza for its principal officers and so failed to scrutinise the request brought before it by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika
The labour unions added that If the Council had down their due diligence, it would have availed itself of publicly available information and materials which the unions have persistently put before members of FEC and the public about the many legally, economically and socially untenable aspects of the airports concession programme of the Ministry of Aviation and which are inimical to both orderly development of Nigerian airports and Nigeria’s social economic interest.
The unions contended that the purported concession of the two airports by the Aviation Minister has a faulty foundation and that the Ministry of Aviation which carried out the concession has no authority to do so.
The unions said that the Federal Ministry of Aviation (and Aerospace) does not own, or run, any airport in Nigeria, adding that by the dictates of the governing Act of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), ownership and management of all Federal Government airports are fully vested in the Authority; not the Ministry.
They further pointed out that the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) procedure document states, with respect to the agency that wishes to concession a facility that, “The public entity should have enabling authority to transfer its responsibility – enabling legislative and policy framework OR an Administrative Order to that effect”, adding that by the combined import of the FAAN Act and the ICRC procedures manual, it is evidently manifest that the entire airports concession is based on an incurably faulty foundation.
Also, the Aviation argued that from the selection of the Transaction Adviser, through the pre-qualification and selection of bidders/winners, to the development of the Full Business Case and conclusion of the concession, only the Minister, his henchmen in the Ministry and the ICRC and the favoured bidder, apart from the wind and walls, have any inkling of the concession process, whereas the whole exercise, by regulation, ought to be carried out transparently within the public view.
To buttress their point, the unions alleged only the Minister and his men know the contents of the bids and that no one else knows why one bid succeeded and another failed, or even the criteria used.
The further argued that no one else also knows what the Full Business Case contains, or the parameters used in deciding the sharing of responsibilities and accruable incomes, adding that on the basis of this opacity alone, this concession exercise did not deserve a hearing from the FEC, let alone granting it such a grandiose approval.
This disservice to the nation, the labour unions said paints the hallowed chambers of the FEC in hollow art, adding that this is rather unfortunate.
Arguing further, the unions said that the entire airport concession programme of the Ministry of Aviation is presently a subject of legal action by the unions at the National Industrial Court, Lagos Jurisdiction, adding that both the Ministry of Aviation and FAAN are defendants in the case and have been duly served the summons.
They asserted that the Aviation Minister and his cronies by continuing with the concession exercise in spite of having been served with court action, amounts to contempt of the Court and that such concession exercise is bound to be nullified by the Court.
Besides, the unions also pointed out that the labour issues surrounding the concession of airports are far from being resolved.
They listed the issue of FAAN workers as one of them, adding that these workers are not airport-tied in their employment and that all employees are considered as a whole unit.
The unions said that in this regard, the concession of the four most major airports away from FAAN would necessarily cause a cessation of the employment of all the staff involuntarily and that the unions stand ready to negotiate redundancy benefits for all staff and pensioners of FAAN.
They mention the pension liability, which according to them is estimated to be N120 billion, which the government has promised to pay but reneged.
They said that before redundancy can be discussed, individual liabilities of staff and pensioners have to be determined through up-to-date actuarial valuation for 2022 but that this has not been done.
The unions said that all efforts on their part to discuss and resolve these issues failed