By Louis Iba
Vehicular movements into the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, was difficult yesterday as airport workers staged a protest against the planned privatisation of four of the nation’s airports.
There was a severe gridlock on the road as vehicles coming into the airport from the Ikeja axis and the NAHCo end of the road were obstructed by the protesting workers even though there were policemen from the Lagos Domestic Airport Police Station on ground to ensure free flow of traffic.
The protesting aviation unions include Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Union of Pensioners (NUP).
Acting General Secretary of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye, and General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Francis Akinjolen, who addressed the protesting workers, said that the unions will resist any attempt by the Federal Government to concession the four major airports, disclosing that the unions were aware of the presence of some influential interests that had already been positioned to buy Nigerian four most economically viable airports.
They argued that the unions cannot fold their arms and watch the retrenchment of over 6,000 workers of FAAN by a few selfish businessmen and women in the name of concession of four airports.
They further contended that the uncontrolled employment and improper placement of certain category of staff without recourse to Federal Character and Public Service Rules in recent months was a ploy to render FAAN insolvent for them to acquire.
Meanwhile, in Lagos, all gates leading to FAAN offices were shut down to ensure that all workers complied with the directive to join the protest organised by the unions.
Some of the workers who would not have participated in the protest were seen trekking along with the union members, a situation that further confirmed that the gates to their offices were locked by the unions.
The protest came few days after the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, assured Nigerians that their interest would not be jeopardised in the resolve to concession some of the nation’s airports.
Sirika had told Nigerians that the decision to concession the airports in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano was borne out of its desire for effective and efficient management of the airports and adequate utilisation of the abundant skilled manpower in the aviation sector.