The Federal Government has apologised to air passengers over inconveniences caused by the recent strike by aviation workers which disrupted flight operations.
Scores of passengers were stranded while fights were delayed on Monday, January 23 after the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) embarked on strike.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said legal framework to forestall such incident in the aviation sector had been put in place.
Sirika said: “This is very important to the traveling public; first we apologise 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 bill has been assented to by the 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 the president and passed by the National Assembly.
“We will deal with it according to the law.”
The minister stated that efforts were ongoing to ensure no essential service is disrupted by anyone.
He said there were other channels of channeling issues when they arose but they were not permitted to go on strike because aviation was an essential service by the law of the land.
“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 an exam and then because of somebody who is aggrieved some other person will die.
“Government will no longer allow that; so it is in the law of the land, check the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Act, it going to take place soon; in fact now, from today, we will not allow that,” Sirika added.
Sirika, however, said the Federal Government was open to listen to any grievances, adding that there are procedures for dealing with such grievances raised by aviation workers.
“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 any longer,” he said.
Sirika added that the ministry got among others, council’s approval for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Hadejia airstrip.
He said: “The total sum is N7.5 billon for a period of 18 months; and this contract is going to Messrs CCECC.
“Then there is the construction or control tower and technical building in Enugu.
“The company is Messrs Mascot Associates Limited and it is N1.9 billion.
“And the third contract is for procurement of utility vehicles to MSSRs Kaura Motors at N625.5 million.
“These are the memoranda and they have all been approved by council today.”