Nigeria’s federal government on Wednesday formally reacted to Monday’s strike action embarked upon by airport workers which disrupted flight operations with a vow to activate the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Act which prohibits strike actions by airports workers across the country.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made this known while speaking with newsmen ahead of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja.
Asked for comments about recent work to rule action by aviation workers in Lagos which disrupted activities at the airport, the Minister while apologising to air passengers pledged that such incident will not happen again as government was ready to activate the FAAN Act which forbids any strike action by airport workers.
His words: “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 and passed by the National Assembly. So 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 return 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 with a exam and then because of somebody who is aggrieved some other persons will die.
“Government will no longer allow that. So it’s in the law of the land, check the FAAN 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 it any longer.”
The Aviation Minister also told newsmen that FEC approved the total sum of N10,081,177,338.31 for projects in the ministry
According to him: “Today in Council, we got the memoranda. It is one memo 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 Messrs 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.”
Briefing newsmen after the FEC meeting,
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, who stood in for his Works and Housing counterpart, Babatunde Fashola disclosed that the Council augmented the construction of Mayan-Nashungo-Lizellie-Ketayo-Oju Ajila road in Benue by N1.635 billion while it also augmented the solar power project powering the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing by N300 million bringing the total cost of the project commenced in 2019 to N3 billion.
His words: “The Minister of works and housing presented one of the memos which was an approval for the revised estimated total cost of contract of rehabilitation for the construction of Mayan, Nashungo, lizelle Katayo, Oju Ajila road in Benue state.
“The contract for this road was actually awarded first in 2012. due to whatever reason, it is still not completed. And of course, if the contract was awarded in 2012, the 10 years later, you expect the contractor to ask for,augmentation. And that’s what happened today, it was approved. The original contract was N1,035,000,000 is now being augmented with an additional N1,063,000,000. so the sum total is N2,099,708,1004.46.
“The other the other memo that was approved for the ministry actually has to do with the Mabuchi headquarters of the Ministry of Works and Housing. I’m sure it’s no longer news, that the ministry headquarters does not depend or rely on the national grid for its power, they rely on their solar grid and the memo today was to seek approval for the estimated total cost of the contract for the design and installation of solar power plus micro grid system and energy litrofitting of the ministry.
“Sometimes in March 2019, a contract was awarded for the provision of a solar power that would power the entire ministry, it was awarded at the cost then for about N2,7 21 billion. Now, they are seeking for an augmentation of N309 million to bring the total cost to 3 billion.
“The reason for the augmentation is that in the process of executing the project certain works which were not anticipated before were to be taken into consideration. And in addition, this augmentation also includes a maintenance contract of the installation”.
On his part, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, told newsmen that the three memo he presented to the Council were approved.
FEC, he explained, approved the National Duct Policy; the National Child Online Protection and Strategy Policy as well as the Nigeria Data Protection Bill.
Patami said: “I had the privilege of presenting three memos before the Federal Executive Council today and I will follow them sequentially.
Memo number one is National Duct One Policy. The policy aims to institutionalize providing ducts during construction in Nigeria, at federal, state and even local government. This is the global best practice today. Before construction, even during the conceptualization, design and construction, there should be provision of ducts for road construction, bridges, rail lines, sea
ports, and any important building.
“Policy number two is national child online protection policy and strategy. As we all know, there are many benefits of going online. The world population reached 10 billion on the 15th November 2022. Today, we have around 6.3 billion people online and by implication, among this number, you will discover many children. They will not be able to differentiate what is beneficial and what is harmful.
“And the third one, it is a bill. That is the Nigeria Data Protection bill. As you all know, that in January 2019, the National Information Technology Development Agency came up with a subsidiary law leveraging on its mandate and power, as in Section six, Article eight of NITDA 2007. The subsidiary law has been entitled as, Nigeria Data Protection Regulation.
“The wisdom behind coming up with this regulation is to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of our data that we are submitting to government and other private institutions”.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja