No going back on airports concession, says Federal Government
• Approves N45b pay for ex-Nigeria Airways workers
• We have not foreclosed ULC registration
There is no going back on the concessioning of all federal airports in Nigeria, the Federal Government has declared.Briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the government could no longer fund the 22 federal airports.
Reacting to agitations from aviation workers against the concession, Sirika assured that the process will be transparently done with the workers fully involved.
According to the minister, the Murtala Mohammed Airport was originally built to handle 200,000 travelers annually but today its serving 8 million per annum, stressing that the government does not have the resources to upgrade the facilities to handle the increased volume of travelers.
Sirika disclosed that when the Buhari administration came on board, it resolved to concession all the airports as the only way to upgrade and develop airport facilities in the country adding that government can no longer fund infrastructure.
On what the government was doing about the staff of the liquidated Nigeria Airways, Sirika said the President had mandated the Minister of Finance to release N45 billion for their severance packages.
Sirika said, “past governments decided to liquidate Nigeria Airways without tending to the issues of the entitlement of the workers and the workers have been struggling to get paid.’’
“The President has approved N45 billion which has been confirmed to be the entitlements of these workers and the Ministry of Finance has been instructed to pay. The process will commence very soon.’’
The Federal Government yesterday also disclosed that it has not foreclosed the registration of the United Labour Congress (ULC).This came as the ULC yesterday announced the suspension of the strike it declared on Monday after meeting with the Federal Government negotiation team.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said that the conditions for registration of a labour centre were already contained in the Trade Union Act, 2004.Ngige said members of the yet to be registered ULC also work in critical sectors of the economy and should therefore not be neglected in order not to put the economy in a critical condition.
He also denied describing ULC as an illegal union. On why the ministry decided to negotiate with ULC, which was earlier declared an illegal body, he said, “I am not sure I used the word illegal for ULC.
“Nobody has foreclosed their registration, once they meet the conditionalities as prescribed in the Trade Union Act 2004, Section 35 (1) b which gives the conditionalities for registration of a new labour centre, we will not hesitate to register them. ‘’
Also, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole told newsmen that the country has recorded a total of 2,719 cases of cholera across the country. Of this number, the Minister said 51 deaths were recorded.
The Minister also said that there was one reported death of yellow fever in Kwara State.Prof Adewole said he submitted the weekly report of the state of the nation’s public health to FEC intimating it that the ministry was tracking four major disease outbreaks.He said that government had started a programme to curb maternal mortality to prevent women from dying in pregnancy.
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