Unions reject merger of aviation, transport ministries
Aviation sector unions, particularly the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) have jointly sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari not to heed the suggestions being offered by some interest groups to merge the ministry of aviation with the ministry of transport.
In the letter jointly signed by NAAPE’s general secretary, Aba Ocheme and NUATE’s general secretary, Olayinka Olu Abioye, the unions said the merger of the two ministries can never be a panacea to save cost of governance which is likely to risk the safety of critical and sensitive operations of a ministry like that of aviation.
According to them, those who are pushing for the merger are a small group of indviduals who have formed themselves into a cabal within the sector and have benefited from every government that comes by offering ‘tainted suggestions that further enhance their interest’.
The letter they sent to President Buhari reads in part: “Our Unions, comprising the above named bodies, are deeply worried by some untoward signals emanating from certain sections of the aviation interest groups.
These rather dangerous signals bear the frequency of a well-known aviation cabal which over the years has perfected the art of cornering every new administration, and then manipulate it towards their own selfish agenda which they dress in national colours. “The present undeveloped state of the aviation sector bears true testimony to the great successes of this nefarious cabal.
We therefore consider it expedient to draw attention of Mr. President to the existence of this cabal and to humbly advise Mr. President to keep a safe distance from them. The cabal presently has strong interest in, and is the unseen forces behind the emergent distractive debate about the merger or de merger of the Aviation Ministry with, or from, the Transport Ministry.
Being unable to influence Mr. President’s choice of a Minister of Aviation, and being thoroughly afraid of the Buhari “integrity wind” (as their aviation shadow businesses are known to be unable to pass any integrity test), they now seek to have a weak aviation leadership, more amenable to their type of unsolicited advice (manipulation).
They hope to achieve this by having a larger Transport Ministry where Aviation will be mere but lucrative department. “We consider it most abhorring and vexatious for anyone to posit that the weaker the better, unless of course such person stands to benefit from the weakness.
How efficient can aviation run under a Ministry of Transport, which may end up with a Minister who has to go again through tutelage on aviation itself perhaps under the cabal, as they usually find their way round an innocent non professional Minister who must seek professional advice, then getting the advice that have selfish agenda?
For us, as representatives of the most critical element in the productivity chain (the workers), we have no particular interest in the merger or de-merger argument, and we wish not to be involved with the politics of it. Our only concern is the profiteering that adversaries of orderly aviation growth seek to make from it.
It is instructive to state here Mr. President that on the two occasions the Ministries were merged under President Obasanjo due to ill-advise from this same cabal under different pseudonyms, such were reversed to status quo when it was discovered that such decision was not only retrogressive but also capable of further destroying the Sector.
“Mr. President, the fundamental problem in some of our ministries is corruption and bad leadership arising from failure to do the right thing in the appointment of professionals to run such ministries, as these ministries are easier to manage as they were, than when merged to make it unwieldy and complex.
With the level of unemployment in the country, it beats ones imagination that some group of people will be advising government to shrink the ministries and thus narrow employment opportunities for deserving Nigerians.
It is our conviction that any ministry that is self sustaining through its parastatals/agencies and has the capacity to contribute to the national treasury should not be merged but rather should be structured if there is need to do so, with a view to strengthening the institutions for effective and efficient service delivery. “Accordingly, we wish to state very clearly that we shall stand with Mr. President’s final decision on this matter.
However, we hasten to equally state that our earlier position and advice to Mr. President remains the same; an Aviation Ministry with a seasoned aviation professional who has sound managerial experience, who has integrity and not blemished, with business orientation as added advantage, will surely move the industry to a greater height.
Having decided to pick technocrats and professionals as ministers, we have no doubts in our minds that there are suitably qualified Nigerian professionals and technocrats who will meet and even surpass Mr. President’s expectation.
We offer our Unions selflessly to the cause of Mr. President’s intention to make positive impact in all sectors of our national life, and assure Mr. President that we fervently believe in his change mantra and that we are willing agents of it”.