…says policy’ll enslave Nigerian workers
- Aviation unions protest
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has vowed to, once again, resist any attempt by the Federal Government to concession major airports in the country to private individuals or groups.
The airports being considered by government to allow private investors manage are the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Port Harcourt International Airport.
Describing the move as an insult to Nigerians, Congress said it was unjust, immoral and in ultra-violation of Chapter 2, Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which mandates the Nigerian government to man- age and operate the major sectors of the economy, and frowns at concentration of wealth or production in the hands of few individuals or a group.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement yesterday, noted that past experiences had shown that allowing private sector intervention in the management of national assets was another disaster waiting to happen.
According to him, the current concession drive has been part of the neo-liberal predilection of successive governments, stretching from the military era up till the current democratic dispensation, to deregulate, concession, and privatize critical national assets to their cronies and friends.
His words: “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! “It is important to note that when our airports, especially the ones earmarked for concession, were in states of eyesore and dilapidation, private capital did not invest towards their 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. “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 wants to be seen in this light. Wabba stated that organised labour would resist any attempt to gift away the national assets to a few individuals.
“The failures of private sector intervention in our public electric and telephone services speak 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 NLC and organised 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.
“Organised labour and the entire Nigerian working class would resist any attempt to unilaterally concession any of our public airports, thus undermining 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 our public assets to a few well-connected Nigerians, regardless of how powerful they think they are. Once bitten twice shy!” he said.
The NLC President stated that concessioning of the nation’s airports would not only haemorrhage government’s revenue, but lead to retrenchment of workers and unfriendly working conditions for those retained. “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 sector players get the concession on national assets.
The reason is very overt, profit maximization, as very few workers would be engaged as slaves to do the work that many workers would ordinarily be required to do. Organized labour would resist this.
“The truth remains that once public workers are properly motivated, trained, capacitated, and given the enabling work environment, there are 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 the rules 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 their airport hub instructs.”