Minister, workers differ on secret concession of airports
However, the National Union of Air Transport Employers (NUATE) told reporters yesterday that they had received “authentic information that the management of the Federal Airports Authority (FAAN) entered into an agreement with Messrs Baltic Air and Maritime Cargo Services Limited on October 8 to take over the airport.”
Chairman, Ministerial Committee on Airports Concessioning, Captain Dele Ore, said that it was not true that the facilities had been concessioned to anybody.
Ore, who spoke to The Guardian yesterday on the matter, said: “We have not even reached that stage and we have not arrived at anything yet,” adding that it was still a long process.
He said that it was discovered that the government made a lot of mistakes in the past and that this was why it was taking its time not to make similar mistakes, adding that he was not aware where the union got its information from.
He explained that the Abuja airport was long concessioned during the time of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which the former DC-10 pilot said was acrimonious because it was fraught with dishonesty.
Omotoba had reportedly said that Nigerian airports would be fully concessioned in the first quarter of 2010. Omotoba assured that Nigerians were “going to see us in the first quarter fully concessioning out Nigerian airports, so that very soon, we will begin to talk about the state-of-the-art infrastructure as well.”
The minister stated that if concessioning process was followed “without short cut, and we do what is right, we will get it right. The Federal Government has examined all other options.”
Also in a letter sent to the Managing Director of FAAN, Richard Aisuebeogun, dated October 18, 2009 and signed by Gideon Ogbuji, the Secretary General of NUATE broke down the monthly concession fees for each of the airports, which it described as paltry.
According to the body, for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the concessionaire is to remit N2.2 million monthly to FAAN. For the Kano airport, the concessionaire is also expected to remit N2.2 million, while the Port Harcourt remittance is N1.8 million monthly.
In his letter, Ogbuji said that FAAN workers generate more than N5.8 million per month, questioning the wisdom in relinquishing the airports to the same firm at a give-away price.
The NUATE scribe alleged that the FAAN chief went ahead to concession the airports in the face of legal tussle concerning airports concessions, which he noted was still in court.
He stated that the matter had been reported to the Minister of Aviation and the Senate Committees on Aviation, stressing that the House of Representatives “which gave us two weeks to resolve the issues and report back to them for which your management have refused to call the union for dialogue.”
“We have demanded that unless labour issues that will affect our members are discussed, we would not accept any concession in any of our airports. In as much as we are not totally against concession, but transparency in the whole exercise is our watch word,” the letter read.
Ogbuji disclosed that they had instructed “all our members in the airports mentioned to fiercely chase away Messr Baltic Air and Maritime Cargo Services Limited, be at alert and resist them from operating within the airports and wait for further directives from the union