Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has begun redeployment of staff as a result of plans by the Federal Government to go ahead with the concession of the country’s international airports, despite opposition by the aviation unions.
Sunday Sun gathered that over the weekend, the management of FAAN began profiling some of its staff across the country, starting from Aminu Kano International Airport (AKIA), Kano.
A source close to the agency revealed that officials from the Human Resources Department of FAAN were in Kano on Friday, September 11, to interview some of the staff working at the airport with the view to moving them to Aviation Security (AVSEC) and Fire and Safety Departments which are presently understaffed so that when the airports are eventually concessioned, they would not lose their jobs.
According to the source, the management team from the HR department was led by Mr Sanni Jimoh, who profiled the staff and relocated them to the two aforementioned departments.
The management reportedly told staff that the reason for the redeployment is because the two departments are understaffed and there may not be any reason for investors to sack staff in those departments when they eventually take over but said the same could not be said of other departments like Commercial, Engineering, Account and Finance and others where workers may be disengaged.
The unions have opposed the plans to concession, saying it will lead to the inevitable loss of jobs but the Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika has always insisted assured industry unions that concessioning of the airports would not lead to retrenchment of workers.
This ongoing exercise has, however, brought palpable fear in the minds of some of the staff who kicked against, what they described as ‘forced change of department’.
It was also learnt that the exercise would cut across all the designated airports for concessioning and others.
The slated airports for concessioning in the first phase of the exercise are Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
The source said: ‘The General Manager, Human Resources in FAAN was here today (Friday) and compelled staff to join AVSEC and Fire Service. This is because the government is going ahead with the plan to concession some of the airports under FAAN.
‘The argument is that when the new owners come if they want to downsize, they won’t touch the two departments because they are already understaffed. The two departments still have enough space to accommodate more staff. But, we are not happy about this development.’
Commenting on the development, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, confirmed the development but said the exercise is not because of the planned concessioning but to fill the existing gaps in the system.
According to her, some of the top management staff in FAAN are complaining about inadequate staff in their departments but said the management could not embark on any employment exercise at present.
Yakubu insisted that the change of department was temporal and affected staff would be returned to their former departments as the country reopens gradually.
She said: ‘This is just to cover the gap in the system for now. FAAN can’t employ now because of the current situation. The General Managers and the Directors are complaining that they are short-staffed. So, the Managing Director said departments where staff are, but they are not doing much because of the present situation, they can be brought in to cover the gap. It is not a permanent situation, but temporal. Since we can’t employ yet, it is just to cover the gap, but when things normalise, they will return to their various departments.
‘The exercise cuts across all the airports. It is just an internal arrangement. Nothing to worry about. It happens to agencies and organisations.’
In 2019, FAAN employed over 100 staff into AVSEC department and trained them in Kaduna State, but most refused to be posted to Lagos Airport, while over 70 of them were posted to Katsina Airport.