THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has thrown its weight behind protests by aviation workers over planned concession of some of the country’s airports.
Aviation unions: Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employee (NUATE), Association of Aviation Professionals (ANAP), and Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), airport branch, had embarked on protests against the concessioning of some of the country’s major airports without carrying the aviation workers unions along.
NLC in a statement signed by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, on Monday, said, “It is with great alarm that we learnt of the renewed efforts by the Federal Government to concession Nigeria’s major airports, namely: the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport – Abuja, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport – Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport, to private sector interests.
“Nigerians may recall that the current concession drive of the present government did not start today.
“It has been part of the neo-liberal predilection of successive governments stretching from the days of military rule up till the current democratic dispensation to privatize, deregulate, and concession critical national assets to their cronies and friends.
“Organized labour has identified this approach to governance as reactionary, predatory and self-serving. We rejected concession of our core national assets yesterday.
“We are rejecting it today!
“The unwholesome and unpatriotic attitude of giving away our prized national property to private sector operatives is not only unjust and immoral but also in ultra-violation of Chapter 2, Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the Fundamental Objectives and the Directive Principles of State Policy which states that the Nigerian government must manage and operate the major sectors of the economy and ensure that that our economy is not operated to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group.
“It is important to note that while our airports especially the ones earmarked for concession were in states of eye sore and dilapidation, no private sector invested money towards its rehabilitation.
“It would be a grand insult to the collective intelligence of the Nigerian public for the Federal Government to invest a lot of public funds into the reconstruction and rehabilitation of our airports and then hand them over to private sector players for profit maximization and at the expense of the tax paying public.
“This is unjust. It is immoral. This cannot stand.
“Apart from the hemorrhage to government revenue that this concession portends, Nigerian workers are concerned over the security of their jobs.
“Our experience in the past has been that of massive layoff of workers once private sectors gets the concession on our national assets.
“The reason is very overt – profit maximization as very few workers are engaged in slave labour to do the work that many workers would ordinarily be required to do. Organized Labour would resist this”.
“As far as we are concerned, there is no compelling reason for the Federal Government to gift away our national airports to private companies to manage.
“The truth is that this presents the government as being incapable of managing anything.
“We are sure that no responsible government would want to be seen in that light.
“The failures of private sector intervention in our public electric power supply speaks volumes of the inherent danger in using public assets to service private interests or massage the ego of those in the corridors of power”.
“The truth remains that once public workers are properly motivated, trained, capacitated, and given the enabling work environment, there is no limits to what they can achieve.
“Furthermore, once government is committed to allowing the professionals do their job without undue interference and ensure optimum maintenance standards especially by enforcing standards in the public procurement process, our workers are more than capable to maintain and manage our national assets.
“The success story of the Ethiopian Airline and the Airport hub instructs”.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress and Organized Labour in Nigeria warns the Federal Government to desist from further contemplation, discussions and arrangements to concession our international airports. We call for social dialogue between government and labour on this”.
“Organized labour and the entire Nigerian working class would resist any attempt to unilaterally concession any of our public airports thus undermine the directive principles and fundamental objectives of our national constitution which is actually the fulcrum upon which our collective identity and aspiration rests”.
“We will not give up or surrender public assets to a few well-connected Nigerians, regardless of how powerful they may think they are.”