October 28, 2021

Nigeria Transport Hub

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The system that swiftly funded unbudgeted relocation but delaying workers’ perquisites is unfair

8 min read

As some of the aviation workers experienced a near gloomy festivity during the Yuletide and the new year celebrations because their expectations were shattered by the inability of their agency management to pay outstanding allowances, a union leader has frowned at the kind of management strategy that he said, “placed priority on equipment more than the men that operate them”.

The Secretary-General, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, ANAP, Comrade AbdulRazaq Seidu, condemned the modus operandi that he said was able to urgently effect relocation which was not in the last year’s (2020) budget but failed to motivate its workforce when it matters most.
Comrade AbdulRazaq noted that the error that caused financial inadequacy was also responsible for the denial of workers their Condition of Service, CoS, which had since been jointly agreed with the aviation agencies’ management but has not been signed for use to date.

The veteran labour leader said a lacuna caused by the deliberate denial of the aviation parastatals of Governing Board, had wittingly caused the delay in most financial and human resource and welfare issues within the agencies.

He said the absence of Governing Board for the aviation agencies had to a large extent, created an avenue for the agencies to consistently run afoul of the act that established them, and especially undermined the noble course the procurement act was enacted to help achieve – transparency- when it comes to the issue of contract award.

Comrade Seidu reasoned that for the smooth running of government business in accordance to the extant laws that established the aviation agencies, it is imperative that all the necessary structures are in place so as to avoid bridging of procedures which often adversely affect the output of such organization and reflect an anomaly in such organization’s processes and procedures for delivering on its mandate in an impeccable manner.

The Secretary-General, ANAP, reiterated for the umpteenth time that the absence of Governing Board for the six parastatals is responsible for the clog in the wheel of progress in those agencies in many ways.

The parastatals that Aviation Ministry is superintending over are Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET.

Comrade AbdulRazaq said most of the issues on the front burner of the workers’ agitation are issues that fall directly on the purview of the Governing Board to thrash.

He mentioned as an example that the vexatious Condition of Service, COS, an issue which has now become recurring for quite a while would have long been settled, if the Governing Boards were in place as matters bordering on COS, is one of the primary tasks of the Governing Boards.

Comrade AbdulRazaq Seidu, Secretary-General, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, ANAP.

Excerpt from the Act that Established Aviation Agencies

ANAP Chief Scribe also noted that there were a lot of jobs due for contractors to execute but must satisfy the procurement act procedures before being duly awarded for execution. Parts of these process often are in the purview of the board to appraise and make ready for the procurement officers to complete the contract award procedures. Yet, absence of the Board will compel circumventing aspects of the letters and the spirit of the procurement act. Yet, each of these agencies awards various contracts to keep their operations going.

However, a cursory look at the act of the national assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which established the agencies, reveal the Board is one of the cardinal arms in making a complete whole of an organization ready for business.

For example, Nigerian Civil Aviation Act of 2006, in its part 111, under the heading “The Governing Board of the Authority” states inter alia in subsection 1 that, “the authority shall have a Governing Board which shall consist of (a) Chairman, (b) one representative not below the rank of a Director, of the following ministries; (b1) the Federal Ministry of Aviation or the Ministry for the time being responsible for Aviation. (b11) the Federal Ministry of Defense or the Ministry for the time being responsible for defence.

And at (b111) the Federal Ministry of Communications or for the time being the Ministry responsible for communications. (c) Four persons with cognate experience in Aviation: and (d) the Director-General of the Authority. These are the details in the act establishing the aviation regulatory authority, ditto for other agencies.

The followings are what the act stipulates as the authorities of the board issuing from part 4 of the civil aviation act which states that “the supplementary provision set out in schedule V1 to this act shall have effect with respect to the proceedings of the Board and the other matters contained therein”

Moreover, the civil aviation act in part 7, under the subheading; Functions of the Board stated that;
(A) Fix terms and condition of service including remuneration of the employees of the Authority in accordance with the provisions of salaries and wages commission.
(B) Receive and review annual reports from the Management of the Authority and submit same to the President and the National Assembly, through the Minister not later than 30th June, in each year. The report shall be on the activities of the Authority during the immediately preceding calendar year and shall include a copy of the audited accounts of the Authority for that calendar year.
(C) Submit not later than 30th September in each year to the Minister an estimate of the expenditure and income of the Authority for the next succeeding year; and
(D) Cause to be kept, proper accounts of the Authority in respect of each year and proper records in relation thereto and shall cause the account to be audited not later than 6 months after the end of each year by auditors appointed from the list and in accordance with the guidelines supplied by the Auditor General of the Federation.

The content of the act establishing these aviation agencies has vindicated the aviation labour leaders’ shrilling and persistent calls for the constitution of the Governing Board for the aviation agencies. The number one function of Board members as revealed in the act is to, Fix terms and condition of service including remuneration of the employees of the Authority in accordance with the provisions of salaries and wages commission.

Annulment of Governing Board Members Nominated

Seidu argued that if the Board had been constituted, the vexatious issue of the jointly agreed staff Condition of Service, COS, wouldn’t have been a protracted matter as presently being witnessed.

ANAP scribed revealed that workers at the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NIMET, are just working but there is no Condition of Service, COS. Those whose purview includes fashioning out one, or ratify the CoS jointly agreed, have been permanently kept at bay which likely could be the situation until the end of the current regime.

Comrade Seidu noted that what irked the unions most, was that the Boards of these six agencies were deliberately quashed by the Minister of Aviation to pave the way for an interim Board which was illegality by the letters and the spirit of the act that established the agencies.

He said the interim Board was vehemently rejected by the unions because it would make appointed members subservient and turned them to a mere rubber stamp of the Minister while the none existence of the Board as it presently is, Seidu described as, ”perpetration of impunity, and open encouragement of mismanagement of fund”.

ANAP Scribe appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to help ask why the Minister rejected the names of nominees approved by Mr President. He further asked why did the Minister failed to comply with Mr President’s directives that Boards of Federal government parastatals be constituted without delay yet, aviation agencies are being run without the Governing Boards.

He explained that the failure to get the Board constituted had brought avoidable hardship to the workers as the jointly agreed Condition of Service, CoS, since it had been agreed upon could still not be actionable because of the lacuna created by the Board’s absence.

Palliative to Agencies Will Help Payment of Owed Allowances
Asked what the reaction of the management of NAMA and the Minister, when workers allowances are being owed, the Comrade said the Minister urged the workers to wait till when the agencies will receive palliative from the government before they could be paid their outstanding allowances.

Seidu, however, asked why did the Minister not wait for the agencies’ palliatives to be paid before the agencies were ordered to relocate to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, despite the fact that COVID-19 was ravaging the industry and creating massive disruptions to the agencies finances.

He lamented that yet under that palpable uncertainty and the clear threat to the agencies revenue, they relocated, sourced both offices and residential accommodations, air and road transport fares, hotel lodgings among other logistics were fully paid for, but the perquisites, health insurance scheme meant for workers and those entitlements of Pensioners could be kept at bay till perhaps eternity, Seidu asked.

This he said the union will address squarely if, by 28th of February, NAMA management will still not deem it fit to settle all its outstanding payments to workers, the union will be left with no option other than calling the workers out to down tools.

He said being a member of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, the Minister ought to have explored the position to make case for workers in the parastatals since it’s an incontrovertible fact that aviation got the most bashing from the harrowing effect of the pandemic.

Unfair Practices in Employment

Another issue ANAP Secretary said the unions viewed with grave concern is the lopsidedness in employment to the ministry and all the agencies.

He said the union watched in awe how employment was made in both the ministry and in all the agencies since the inception of the current administration but without a modicum of regard to the principles of the Federal Character.

He added that as much as the agencies and the supervising ministry feigned the usual claim of an embargo on employment, suddenly scores of newly employed officers will resume for work in all of the agencies and the ministry but on a closer look, they would all be from one section of the country.

AbdulRazaq Seidu demanded equity, and fairness in employment to public service so that it will not turn out a disservice tomorrow.

He advised that competence should not be sacrificed for nepotism which will in no distant future put the entire system in jeopardy.

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