Senator Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s Aviation Minister
A fervent appeal has gone to the federal government through the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, for a consideration of palliative for members of the League of Aviation and Airport Correspondents, LAAC, who throughout the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic last year 2020, kept the various news platforms buzzing and sustained the information supply chain with both national and global updates.
Members of LAAC who were among the frontline personnel in the fight against the spread of the virus were all out reporting level of compliance to the restrictions as they relate to air travel and as announced by the federal government through the Presidential Task Force, PTF on COVID-19.
Making the appeal on behalf of members of the fourth estate of the realm who ply their trade in air travel news reportage was the aviation workers’ administrator emeritus, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, the immediate past Secretary-General of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE.
Comrade Abioye described members of LAAC as “gentlemen of the press within our Sector who have served as the lubricating oil that has continued to enhance the seamless continuation of air transportation operations, drawing attention on a regular basis to gaps requiring government intervention and praising, advocating and deepening efforts of airline operators and agencies of the sector”
Olayinka Abioye asked, “when will their palliatives be disbursed? When will these journalists have a befitting place to call their own, where they could work 24/7, rest for the day and dash off to work when emergency duty beckons? Where can they engage in research work? Can the Minister help by providing an aviation-related library for these eminent persons of the fourth estate of the realm?”
Abioye noted that in the aviation information dissemination chain, LAAC especially stood tall in ensuring there was no dearth of information throughout the lockdown in 2020 and until the partial and total opening of the nation’s airspace and the body still sustain the tempo to date.
He added that the league had not doused the tempo ever since, rather, it continued bringing to the fore activities of the aviation ministry, the regulatory body, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, the airport managers, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, at ensuring stakeholders comply with the restart program and COVID-19 protocols for travellers as dispensed by the global bodies, ICAO, IATA, WHO and distilled by NCAA.
Abioye wondered that those who stake their lives to ensure that the industry did not suffer the dearth of useful information, throughout the period when there was no any form of advertising patronage, yet they kept the information line buzzing, deserves a palliative to cushion their significant losses.
The dynamic scribe of NUATE who recently retired but not tired noted that many of the media houses are distressed as most of them are not paying salaries as at when due, others owed 18 months salaries while those members who are digital publishers are operating on a shoestring.
He called on the aviation minister, Capt Hadi Sirika, to be proactive and not wait until the total breakdown of various communication channels available for disseminating activities in the industry becomes a staggering reality.
He averred that the accomplishments by the aviation ministry, various agencies such as FAAN, NCAA in regards to the new normal now obtained in aviation and exploits of private operators at weathering the stormy waters, all deserved to be recorded for posterity via news reportage.
In the same vein, Comrade Abioye also advocated for a palliative to members and corporate aviation labour unions, which he said had experienced “strains and stress in the past ten months or so, arising from loss of incomes (monthly deductions from their members), loss of membership due to sacking/loss of jobs, unpaid redundancies and unpaid salaries” etc.
The immediate past scribe of NUATE stated that” the Honorable Minister, who is seen and regarded as the friend of the workers and their Unions may also consider granting palliatives to the Unions to recompense them for their losses, which directly affect payment of salaries to their Secretariat staff, payment for other administrative engagements etc.
He suggested that donating buses and other paraphernalia that can deepen industrial relations will not be out of place”.
Abioye however lamented that “the avoidable tension in Arik and Aero Contractors should be quickly reviewed for peace and harmony to reign”
He congratulated the “management and Staff of the new airlines coming on board. May you roar into the skies safely and land in comfort”.