By ANTHONY AWUNOR, Lagos
Stakeholders in nation’s aviation industry including members of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) branch, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and others have condemned the alleged directive by the Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to FAAN on remittance of 5 per cent of its total Passengers Service Charge (PSC) to the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
LEADERSHIP gathered that the move by the Aviation Ministry did not go down well with the aviation unions and are bent on show down with the ministry, should FAAN implement the directive.
Already, FAAN has been grappling with the payment of gratuities of some workers who left service since May 2016. With such responsibility, the unions feel that, directing FAAN to remit 5% from its meager revenue would finally deplete the agency’s purse.
In an official document obtained by LEADERSHIP at the weekend, it was observed that AIB had requested for ministerial approval to allocate 10% of FAAN’s Passengers Service Charge collected to fund accident investigation Bureau Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
This AIB argued that 10% will adequately fund its operations and enable it deliver on its statutory mandate with revenue generated from both local and international airlines. At present, AIB is surviving on 3% Ticket Sales Charge (TSC)
But stakeholders have argued that the AIB has no role to play as the agency remained dormant except when there was accident describing the move as another conduit pipe to siphon funds from the industry.
On its own part, the Accident Investigation Bureau, in a defensive move had also stated that the 3% TSC and its meager budgetary allocation had not allowed it to fulfill its mandate.
According to AIB, the agency had not been able to train accident investigators employed since 2013 hence it has not been able to complete series of civil aircraft accidents and incidents closed to ten years.
Reacting to the development, members of ANAP and NUP (FAAN branch) condemned the said directive by the Minister of Aviation.
Speaking jointly on the new 5% directive, the aviation labour unions accused Senator Sirika of a grand plan to destroy FAAN, stressing that they would not fold their hands and watch the minister have his way.
Querying the rationale of giving AIB 5 % passengers service charge, both unions maintained that AIB is not doing much and therefore, does not require remittance from FAAN.
According to them, if by any chance, AIB is in need of money, the Ministry of Aviation should be able to fund the bureau, adding that by law, AIB is supposed to be funded by the Federal Government.
Speaking on behalf of ANAP, the secretary general of the association, Comrade Abdulrazaq Saidu said that such move by the Aviation Ministry will not be accepted; adding that what is expected from the ministry is to first address each debt being owed the service providers by the airlines.
Speaking in the same vein, chairman of the National Union of Pensioners, (NUP) FAAN branch, Comrade Razaq Ope, said that the issue of requesting for 5 per cent from IGR, especially from passenger’s Service charge both local and international airlines cannot be accepted by the union.
Comrade Ope who corroborated Saidu’s view that AIB is supposed to be funded by the Aviation Ministry said, “If they don’t have money, let the government be paying them. FAAN is taking care of many things; equipment, control tower are part of FAAN’s responsibilities. Most of the equipment are being taken care of by FAAN. AIB is not doing anything for anybody. It is not ideal and we the unions are ready to challenge the ministry on this issue.”