May Day: Union advises the aviation minister to prepare handover note

Oluwanifemi Ojo
Oluwanifemi Ojo
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika

The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has received counsel to emulate other ministers by preparing his handover note to the Permanent Secretary in the ministry as opposed to pursuing his roadmap agenda at the end of the current administration.

Nairametrics reported that the President of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Comrade Ben Nnabue made this statement on Monday during his address to the union’s members to commemorate the 2023 May Day celebration at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.

Nnabue said the government is a continuous entity and therefore, workers were expecting Sirika to prepare his handover note instead of creating unnecessary chaos in the aviation industry since the government would be changing hands soon.

He gave an example of workers expecting the minister to halt the planned demolition of some aviation agencies’ offices in Lagos for the aerotropolis project, as there was no time left for such a massive project.

The minister had expressed his desire to demolish the office complexes of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for the project, but this plan was met with opposition from industry unions.

According to the report, the unions had even staged a two-day warning strike that affected activities in the sector, especially at the Lagos and Abuja airports. Nnabue further urged the incoming government of President-elect Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to conduct a forensic audit of the aviation roadmap projects of the past eight years, modify their general directions, and present them for delivery.

According to Nnabue, governance is a continuous process, and it is unnecessary to create bad weather in the industry through unneeded posturing over unfinished roadmap projects. He emphasized that the roadmap projects are crucial to the growth of Nigerian aviation.

He said “In the above regard, I wish to humbly urge the incoming government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to carry out a forensic audit of the aviation road map projects, recast their general directions and re-present them for delivery. It is important to state that the road map projects are exceedingly vital to the growth of Nigerian aviation. Their delivery should, therefore, not be undermined. But we demand that the projects be remoulded to be of benefit to all stakeholders and to fit the needs of the industry and national interest.”

Nnabue also lamented the situation of several aviation agency employees who had been “forcefully” transferred to Abuja roughly three years earlier.

He said that many of them still needed office space and that the majority had not yet received their relocation reimbursements.

The union representative emphasized that NUATE had requested a union/management committee be established to provide advice on the process during the height of the exercise and had argued for an organized or staged approach due to the human factor involved.

Later, he expressed regret that the ministry had disregarded his advice and emphasized that the workers’ current situation is precarious because hundreds of them do not have offices or lodging in Abuja.

He added that the unions might be forced to respond correctly if the government was unable to fix the crisis quickly. However, he praised President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the 40% pay increase for Federal Government employees, which will help to mitigate the effects of inflation and the removal of subsidies. He also urged aviation employers and agencies to prepare for an increase in workers’ salaries in the industry.

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