…no airline staff will lose job – Sirika
By Louis Ibah
Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika on Friday said the Federal Government had waded into the crisis surrounding the suspension of scheduled commercial flight operations by two of Nigeria’s domestic airlines, Aero Contractors and First Nations. Sirika assured that the government would do everything possible to ensure that despite the crisis there was no loss of job to Nigerians in the airline industry.
There has been mass protest by aviation sector unions at the Lagos airport in the last two days following the indefinite shutdown of Aero Contractors airline by its management. Sirika who addressed the protesters at the Aero Contractors headquarters at the Lagos airport, where about 1,400 were ordered to proceed on compulsory leave, agreed with the workers that they had the right to protest because they could not just be relieved of their jobs that way under the prevailing harsh economy.
“I think this protest is justifiable and I agree with the issues you have raised, but we will look into it and come up with a solution that will be mutually beneficial to all of us both the staff, the company and government itself,” said Sirika.
“The primary purpose of government, especially this APC government is to help to promote, nurse, sustain, develop, and keep businesses going so that they can continue to provide services and employ our people. It is not the government of APC that will kill jobs and close down shops; our intent is to promote jobs and promote businesses in Nigeria so that businesses will be growing,” the Minister added.
Most analysts in the aviation sector have severely criticized the government of President Buhari for supervising the collapse of the local airline industry with some of its policies, especially the tall order given to regulatory agencies to deny essential services to debtor domestic airlines in a bid to get them pay back debts owed the government. The government has also been criticized for failing to heed to pleas by domestic airline owners to make available aviation fuel and the requisite foreign exchange (forex) available to them to undertake the routine maintenances of the aircraft in their fleet.
The Minister who agreed he was aware of some of the challenges facing the airline industry said he would meet with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the management of Aero Contractors on how to resolve the problems and promised he would get back to the workers on Monday.