Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has declared that the Federal Government would not sit and allow people lose their jobs or kill businesses in the aviation industry all in the name of concessioning the airports.
This is just as he appealed to the unions not to use the concession agreement between Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and the Federal Government to judge the planned concession of four major airports.
The Federal Government plans to concession airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano for effective service delivery, good turnover and management.
Sirika’s declaration is coming on the heels of the fears by the workers through the aviation unions that their members in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) that they could lose their jobs if the Federal Government goes ahead to concession the four major airports.
He spoke in Lagos at the weekend when he met with two aviation unions – Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(FAAN) represented by its National President, Comrade Benjamin Okewu and the National Union Air Transport Employees(NUATE) represented by its former General Secretary, Comrade Abdulkareem Motajo.
Discussions at that meeting focused on the concession of airports which the unions had opposed.
“Contrary to beliefs that workers would be laid off when these airports are concessioned, there would be more activities.
“The Federal Government will not sit down and watch people who voted for change to lose their jobs or kill businesses instead of creating,” he stated, stressing that the aim of the concession is not to sell its assets.
Senator Sirika reiterated that he had brought out 26 things which he hoped to achieve during his tenure as the minister, highlighting that some of them are concession of airports, establishing a leasing company and setting up private sector driven MRO and national carrier.
He said that the position of the government in the planned concession was that the airports would be better than those in Singapore and Britain.
“In concessioning these airports, the government would carry aviation unions along and make the process transparent.”
According to Sirika, “concession will be done transparently and will never be in camera and everybody will be carried along”.
To further prove that the proposed concession will be transparent, the minister disclosed that a Project Delivery Team had been constituted, urging the unions to send representative to be in the team.
FAAN, he pointed out, would continue to own the airport, stressing that the concession is just for a period of time.
“I will always tell you the truth. Except I don’t understand the truth. That is why I have the unions here to tell me the truth,” he added.