The federal government has vowed not to ever again allow aviation workers to embark on strike as they are classified under providers of essential services.
Recall that the workers under the National Union of Air Transport Employees and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria declared a strike action on Monday, January 23, 2023, but soon called it off.
Speaking to journalists after Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who gave the government’s position, citing the Civil Aviation Act, 2022, which he said prohibits such action.
The Act was signed into law last August by President Muhammadu Buhari, repealing the Civil Aviation Act, No. 6, 2006.
Sirika apologized to Nigerians for the inconvenience caused by the strike, saying that since there is a law against the action, the government will deal with it accordingly.
He stressed that government is willing to listen to any grievances but warned the aviation workers to desist from illegal action.
The Aviation Minister stated: “This is very important to the travelling public. First, we apologize to them, our teeming passengers in this difficult moment. Secondly, this will not happen in the future by the grace of God.
“And the reason is simple. Aviation is an essential service. The Act has been assented to by Mr President. So, strikes and riots around our airports are prohibited by the laws of the land.
“And now that we have the act in place and assented by Mr. President as passed by the National Assembly, we will deal with it according to the law. We will ensure no essential service is being disrupted by anybody no matter how aggrieved.
“There are other channels of channeling issues when they arise but they are not permitted to go on strike because aviation is an essential service and is by the law of the land now.
“I will give you an example. There was an airline that had to returned to base because it couldn’t land. Imagine if there was a patient on that aircraft? Imagine somebody attending to a very serious issue or matter at hand or business or a student trying to catch up with a exam and then, because of somebody who is aggrieved, some other person will die.
:Government will no longer allow that. So, it’s in the law of the land. Check the FAAN Act (Civil Aviation Act). It’s been assented to and it’s going to take place soon.
“In fact now, from today we will not allow that. Government, our ears are always open, government is open to listen to any grievances and there are procedures for dealing with this kind of grievances.
“They should please desist from this. It is wrong, it is inhuman, it is not allowed, it is not permitted and we will not be permitting any longer.”
The warning by the federal government came on the day FEC approved contracts worth N10,081,177,338.31 for the aviation ministry.
Giving a breakdown of the contracts, Sirika revealed that they are for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Hadejia airstrip, the construction of control tower and technical building in Enugu Airport and for procurement of utility vehicles.
He explained: “So, today in Council, we got the memoranda. It is one memos that contains about three items. One of which is the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Hadejia airstrip, and the total sum is N7,482,071,196.56 for a period of 18 months. And this contract is going to MESSRS CCECC.
“Then there is the construction of control tower and technical building in Enugu. The company is MSSRS Mascot Associates Limited, and it is N1,973,606,141.75. And the third contract is for procurement of utility vehicles, to MSSRs Kaura Motors at N625,500,000. These are the memoranda and they’ve all been approved by Council today. And we thank you, gentleman of the press, my friends.”