By Louis Ibah
International and domestic flights into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, may be disrupted this week from tomorrow as some workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are planning to shut down the operations in the two airports in protest over their planned concession by the Federal Government.
Industry sources told Daily Sun that the workers are particularly aggrieved over the decision of the government to concession the two lucrative airports in the country, while leaving them with lowly patronised ones to manage, albeit temporarily.
“We have been holding series of meetings since the decision to concession the airports was taken and we have resolved that any time this week, we will shut down the two airports because that is the only way we can get the government to talk to us and hear our own side of the story and rescind its decision,” an industry source told Daily Sun.
Chairman for the FAAN branch of the Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN), Mr. Danjuma Ahmed, who spoke with Daily Sun on the issue said the union had written to the government explaining why the concession of airports in the country was not a solution to the problems plaguing the airports.
He said while he did not support the planned shut down of the two airports for whatever reasons by any union, he would, however, be mobilising workers to stage a peaceful protest at the Lagos airport on Tuesday to press home the demand to the jettison the government plan.
Said Ahmed, “our stance remains the same; we say no to the concession of any airport in Nigeria. I have heard that some people are planning to shut down the airports but for me, what we are planning to do is staging a protest to that effect on Tuesday.
“We have spoken and written to the government on why the concession of the airports would not serve the country any useful purpose and they have failed to reason with us. We believe that FAAN has all it takes to turn around the airports to world-class standards because we have the technical expertise and the finance to achieve this, but only if we can get the government to give us the free hand. But they are saying they want to give private sector managers.
“For some years now, we have survived on our IGR without government subvention and we have been paying taxes to the government. The problem we have is undue government interferences, which is rather political and this is why the airports are not in the best shape as they should be. It is even wrong to concession Abuja and Lagos airports and leave us with airports that are not viable because, how else do they want us to survive? Where do they want us to get the money to run alternate airports like Akure and Ilorin if they take away Lagos airport from FAAN? Things are not done that way,” Ahmed added.