All offices of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Lagos were yesterday shut by unions in the aviation industry in a peaceful protest over the proposed concession of the four major airports in the country.
As early as 6a.m. the security officers manning the different gates into the FAAN headquarters and other offices were excused by the union members from their duties, and thereafter chained and padlocked the gates.
The staff of the agency who had earlier been informed of the union’s action in a letter, came early prepared to join in the protest. Leaders of the four unions – Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) – addressed the workers on why the unions embarked on a protest.
After the series of solidarity songs, the Secretary- General of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, said the concession project would not favour the workers, but further impoverished them with the anticipated job losses. He emphasized that the process had not been transparent since it started. Chairman, ATSSSAN FAAN branch, Ahmed Danjuma, described the concession as a one-man project by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
According to him, the planned concession was being facilitated in connivance with the Infrastructure, Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). Abdulrazak Saidu, ANAP scribe, also stated that the concession so far embarked on in the industry had been marred by controversies.
After the address, the FAAN workers carried placards with different inscriptions that read: “Airports concession is a crime against Nigerians,” “Selective concessions ploy to destroy FAAN,” “FAAN workers have been patient enough,” and “Job losses loom in the aviation industry.”
Others are: “FAAN pay our pension liability,” and “FG please resolve MM2 concession”, among others. With the placards, the workers and members of the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) marched out of the Freedom Square venue of the address into the airport roads in a procession chanting solidarity songs in protest against the airport concession.
This led to traffic in and out of the airport environment as officers of the airport police command were deployed to ensure law and order in the area. The protest went on simultaneously across airports in the country.