Dangling and drooping may just be the right words to describe the situation of the aviation industry at the moment. For sure, the confusion surrounding the sector by all indications will certainly drag it to the mud if drastic and far reaching decisions are not implemented urgently.
Barely two months after President Muhammed Buhari commissioned the newly built Murtala Muhammed Airport International terminal; the aviation industry has been gripped with reoccurring uncertainties. While the Airline owners are expressing their frustration over high cost associated with Aviation fuel, the Air transport workers on the other hand are deeply aggrieved over welfare packages.
According to analysts, the cracks in the sector can be linked to the current political and party festivities which paralyzed governance virtually in all sector. Expect of the recent directive by the President that all federal executive council members vying for public office should resign; the office of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been reduced to mere caricature as almost every political appointee of this administration has shifted their focus towards succeeding their principal and neglecting the job of which they are paid.
So after several appeals and engagement with the Federal Government, the National Assembly and oil marketers’ efforts to bring down the cost of jet fuel proved abortive. The Airline owners who could no longer bear the burden decided it was best to shutdown. The association in a letter issued by its president and signed by the executive directors of nine Nigerian carriers, informed the public that from Monday, May 9, 2022 it would halt its services.
Immediately, that was made, the government quickly realized the need to be up and doing. The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika had to penetrate the camp of the association and appealed to their conscience while reaching out to marketers to reduce the Jet A1 fuel. The minority leader of the House of Representative, Hon.. Ndudi Elumelu lamented the economic consequences of such move. He feared that it would be a big lose for everyone
While government has not effectively nipped in the bud the issues as it affects Airline operators, the Air transport employees through its various mouthpieces issued their own letter for a proposed two days warning strike. The union which comprises National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Amalgamated Union of Public Co-operation Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE) directed their members to embark on a two day warning strike over the “workers negotiated conditions of service and other sundry issues that have been neglected for nine years”. When contacted, the general secretary of NUATE, Comrade Ocheme Aba confirmed to MMS Plus that the proposed strike was for all categories of workers and are to be complied by all six Aviation agencies which are Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT). Although the strike never took place but the implication was that activities would have still been grounded even while Airline owners’ frustration has temporarily been resolved. It was indeed a drama unfolding from all angles giving serious concern as to what is truly happening in the Aviation sector. Airline operators had only agreed to reverse to their previous decision on the basis that government will look into their frustration and proffer a lasting solution to it.
Similarly, the Air transport employees agreed to endure their poor working conditions and let go off their grievances on the footing that a better and lasting condition of service is on the way.
All of these Aviation stakeholders have relaxed their planned actions on a gentle man’s agreement. On instances when government fails to march their promises with actions in the foreseeable future, what happens to the pregnancy when the water breaks?