Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

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Socialist Democracy April-May 2018

29 March 2018

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Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) is opposed to the planned concession and privatization of the four biggest airports by the Buhari-led APC government. Putting airports in the hands of profit-seeking private companies could compromise safety of air travelers, increase cost of air travels and jeopardize well the welfare of staff.

The SPN declares solidarity with the Air transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) in their struggle against the planned concession.

Successive governments in the last 10 years have attempted to concession and privatize the four most viable but mismanaged airports but for the aviation unions and workers who have challenged such anti-workers policy. The four airports are Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport. Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is statutorily empowered to manage all airports in Nigeria including providing services to both passengers and airlines but this primary responsibility is consciously being undermined by the ruling class and the government for self-serving interest. Currently FAAN is overburdened with huge debts as a result of corruption and mismanagement perpetuated by top management staff.

We are strongly of the opinion that concession/privatization of airports will worsen an already bad situation. A case study is the power sector that was privatized in November 2013 and despite bailouts running into hundreds of billions of Naira, epileptic power supply and overbilling have been the order of the day. The Maritime sector has been largely privatized with terminals concessioned but that has led to increase in clearing cost, job losses and has also contributed to the rising cost of goods imported.

The reason public corporations are not working efficiently is the fact that the ruling class and successive governments see it as cash cow for privileged members and these corporations are run with the sole purpose to meet private interest and not public interest. Another reason for failure of public corporations is that they are run undemocratically since government appoints management team and board members out of selfish political considerations.

Is it not curious that Buhari-led government plans to concession the 4 most viable airports out the 13 airports? The plan to concession/privatise the 4 viable airports is to enable the private companies who have ties with the ruling elite to make jumbo profits. Ethiopia Airline is 100% publicly owned and is the biggest airline in Africa. SPN believes the Nigerian Aviation can be made to work better. Public ownership of the aviation sector, massive investment and democratic management of workers and the public is the only policy thrust that can transform the aviation sector.

SPN calls on Air transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) to resist the planned concessioning and privatization of airports through mobilization of workers and the general public for sustained mass action.