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Aviation workers clash over proposed concession of Lagos, Abuja airports

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Workers in the aviation sector yesterday clashed in Lagos over the planned concessioning of Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

Whereas workers under the aegis of Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) were out in protest against concession, their colleagues and members of Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) rallied in support of the concession.

The Guardian learnt that the pro-concession group only mobilised after the anti-concession faction started their protest march at the airport corridor. The faceoff, however, led to minor scuffle as a result of arguments and counter-arguments between the two groups.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting last week okayed the planned concession of Lagos and Abuja airports, which are the busiest in the country.

The anti-concession workers, who are in the majority, have consistently kicked against the plan to concession the four most viable airports and not 22 others, coupled with the worry about imminent job losses.

The placard of ATSSSAN and NUATE members had various inscriptions.

Secretary General of NUATE, Olayinka Abioye, told reporters that the concession plan had only been unveiled in the social media, but “the Vice President cannot concession the nation’s airports via Twitter.”

Abioye said: “The Vice President cannot go on his Twitter handle to say airports have been concessioned. Nigerian government is not run on Twitter. The Vice-President said two airports will be concessioned and the minister says four airports. So, they are in confusion and do not understand each other. That is not how to go about it at all.

“The public must also know that the Federal Government is budgeting N600 million to advertise the airports overseas. But if you concession the cash cows, that is Lagos and Abuja airports, what about Ibadan and Akure airports? They will die automatically.”

President of ATSSSAN, Amadu Illitrus, called on all the unions to shun the infighting and come together to create a stronger and more vibrant position.

Illitrus said: “We must negotiate from a position of strength. We must mobilise and get it right.”



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