NUATE and three other unions sued the Ministry of Aviation and FAAN over the planned concession of some airports, claiming the process was lacking in transparency.
The unions had agreed with the government before touring the airports that all parties, including the unions, would appraise the situation. However, the government failed to call the unions to a meeting to discuss this despite their series of letters on the issue.
NUATE’s General Secretary, Comrade Ocheme Aba, insisted that all members of the unions in FAAN were in agreement with the legal suit, and warned preferred bidders to steer clear of the airports as the case is already in court.
The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) has shed more light on why the union and three others instituted a legal suit against the Ministry of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on the planned concession of some of the airports in the country.
The airports scheduled for concession are the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, Port Harcourt International Airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
Speaking with Nairametrics in Lagos, the General Secretary of NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba, said that the government negated all the agreements reached after the tour of some airports outside the country with the unions.
More details on the lawsuit
NUATE and three other unions – Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP-FAAN Branch) – sued Aviation Ministry (1st defendant) and FAAN (2nd defendant), claiming that the entire process was short of transparency.
In their originating summon, the unions had engaged Mr Femi Falana’s firm to challenge the case at the National Industrial Court in the Lagos Judicial Division in Lagos State.
According to Ocheme, the unions had agreed with the government before the tours of the airports that after the tours, all parties involved in the process, including the unions would appraise the situation, but regretted that the government failed to call the unions to a meeting to discuss this despite the series of letters to it on the issue.
He alleged that despite the refusal of the government to involve the unions, the ministry had continued to go ahead with the process and also announced preferred bidders about five months ago with the knowledge of critical stakeholders on the issue. He said:
“Our agreement before the tours was that after the tours, everybody will sit down to appraise the tour, but unfortunately, the ministry didn’t assent to our request up until now. The ministry has refused to convey the meeting and therefore, this exercise has lost the benefits of the tours that we embarked on at that time.
“We lost confidence in the government at the point where the ministry has continued to engage the would-be concessionaires without our knowledge up to the extent that they have announced the preferred bidders. The government had promised to involve us when they were meeting with the preferred bidders, but up till now, they have not done so.
“It is up to the government to be law abiding and to stay through to the principles of rule of law. Whether they would do that or not, I am not in a position to say, but we expect that is the product of democracy that the government will operate through the rule of law.”
What you should know
Ocheme insisted that all the members of the unions in FAAN were in agreement with the legal suit, adding that the lawyers were also procured by the mandate of signatories by the unions involved.
According to him, the leaders of the unions had a formal meeting where the decision was taken, stressing that the General Secretaries of the unions were mandated to file the suit through their lawyers.
Besides, he warned the preferred bidders to steer clear of the airports, saying that it would amount to baggage for the concessionaires as the case is already in a court of law.
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