Aviation unions maintain stand against concession of airports

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos

The leadership of major aviation workers union has reiterated their stance against the plan by the Federal Government to concession the biggest four international airports in the country.
Mr Ahmed Danjuma, Chairman, Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Branch, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Tuesday in Abuja.

Danjuma spoke on the sideline of a three-day sensitization workshop organized by the leaders of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and ATSSAN in FAAN in Abuja.

He said the stand of the ATSSAN and other unions in aviation sector had been ‘’No to Concession’’ if it would not be done the way they wanted.

Danjuma said that the model the unions recommended to the government was the “corporatisation of FAAN” thereby transforming it into an airport company to independently develop those airports.

According to him, “corporatisation” is a kind of business that is mutually attainable because about 78 per cent of airports in the world are corporatised.

“Our unions stand still remains ‘’no to concession’’ not just no to concession because we don’t want concession, we said no with cogent reasons.

“Part of the reasons is that if it become evidently clear that they must do it, there are options and one of the options we gave is the we can go for corporatization.

“Form an airport company where an organisation like FAAN can now be transformed to an airport company in Nigeria and it would be in a position to decide to give the airports out to somebody or how to develop it.

“We believe that FAAN has the capacity to turnaround the fortunes of those airports,’’ he said.

The union leader also disclosed that if the government could adopt the build, operate and transfer (BOT) model, where investors would be given land to build their own structure, the unions would support it.

He said that the BOT model would rather create jobs for Nigerians, arguing that concessioning the existing infrastructure would lead to loss of jobs which the union stood against.

“I was told there are two different models of concession, which include the Grey field concession and grand field concession.

“Grey field concession is the type of concession where you will be given your own land, build your infrastructure and operate over a period of time and transfer to the government.

“We don’t have problems with that because Nigerians will get jobs from that.
“But when it comes to grand field concession, you are mortgaging the interest of the structure that you have raised overtime which will lead to loss of jobs and we are not going to allow that.

“We felt that FAAN that has the capacity to transform and change the fortunes of this our airports without necessarily going into concession,’’ he said.

The Guest Lecturer at the workshop, Mr Kehinde Bamiwola, delivering a lecture on concession, said that concession entailed an exclusive right to do business in government utility for a given period of time.

Bamiwola said the principles of concession must be in tandem with the enabling law, adding that rule of law governing contract must be followed.

He told the participants that if Nigerian factor could be removed from the proposed concession given the rules that govern concession, it would be the best form of industrialization in the country.

Mamiwola urged the union members to be receptive, critical and analytical in their thinking about concession.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika, has disclosed the decision by the government to concession Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano airports.

Sirika has subsequently constituted a committee to oversee the process as well as appointment of transaction adviser for the concession.

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