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Minister intervenes as NUATE shuts down NCAA, demands DG’s removal

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Capt. Muhtar Usman

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) yesterday shut down the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) demanding the removal of its Director General, Captain Usman Muhtar, over alleged highhandedness.

Following the impasse, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, invited aviation workers’ unions to a meeting towards resolving grievances that led to picketing of the NCAA.

The union had cautioned that if its demands were not met by today, they would shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja insisting that an air crash was imminent in the country if their demands were not met.

Although flight activities continued undisrupted by the development, NCAA offices were all shut, as the protesting workers held rallies at the gates to ask for their rights and privileges.

The situation was not different at NCAA’s headquarters in Lagos, as NUATE, Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), barricaded the main entrance, thereby stalling the day’s activities.

While they chanted solidarity songs, they also barred vehicular and passenger movement, claiming that the Ministry of Transportation claimed ignorance of their demands and a seven-day ultimatum that lapsed on Tuesday.

President of ATSSSAN, Illitrus Ahmadu, confirmed the meeting with the minister, but argued that it was a little too late, adding that since the unions wrote to the minister and NCAA management expressing their grievances, nobody invited them to discuss the issue.

The workers carried placards with inscriptions: Muhtar, Time To Go, Bye-Bye; No To Sadist Muhtar; Expect Air Crash Soon With Muhtar As DG; Bring Back Our Autonomy and Release Promotion Letters To Deserving Staff Immediately, among others.

NUATE State Council Chairman, Said Nanbol, told journalists that going forward if their demands were still not met, they would join other unions like ANAP, NAPE and ATSSSAN to disrupt flight operations at the nation’s airports.

Nanbol said their grievances also bothered on NCAA management’s decision to collapse some directorates and departments, which have limited space for employees in the organisation to grow in their career.

However, Sirika said the unions’ demands were not in the best interest of the industry, adding that they had not met him for dialogue before now.

He explained that over 500 employees were stagnated without promotion in the organisation for several years before he assumed office in 2015, saying that majority of them had been promoted and that those yet to be promoted were few.

But General Manager, Public Relations of NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the issues in contention were not within NCAA management’s jurisdiction, adding however, that the authority would work with the ministry to ensure that all issues were addressed to the satisfaction of all parties.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, has assumed duties with a pledge to improve service delivery.


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