Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has made a passionate appeal to workers in the aviation sector not to contemplate joining the proposed protest being mobilised by the Nigerian Labour Congress in support of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU.
His plea follows threats by workers in the sector to shut down airports in solidarity with ASUU.
But reacting to the threat, Sirika, shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, warned that the job of aviation management goes beyond flying but that its impact transcends all sectors of the economy.
His words, “I’m naturally concerned about this if the aviation union will shut down in support of ASUU. I would say they have no need to. I will say also that we should begin to look at civil aviation as a critical national security enterprise. It has all the implications. We should not contemplate or think about an aviation disaster. We should also think about the general activity in the economy of Nigeria without trivializing it.
“It’s okay. This is a democracy, you can push for demands, but in pressing for demands you should be reasonable in doing so. Where, the life that you’re trying to promote, would be seriously affected and hampered. Where lives can be lost because of your own activity. I think it should be reconsidered.
“So, civil aviation workers, I think should not be part of this. Yes, I am concerned and yes we’ve spoken to them and I don’t think they will join because they know that there’s a huge responsibility of lives on their heads. If you’re an air traffic controller, it involves national security. It involves the capability of preventing external aggression, so on and so forth. I believe that they are very aware of the enormous responsibility upon them in civil aviation and they should continue to see it so and continue to be as law-abiding as we want them to be”.
Asked if there has been any formal plea with the workers directly, he responded saying, “Yes, is an ongoing thing another. So in civil aviation, we speak to them almost on a daily basis. They are part of us. They are workers like every other person is. And we interact with them. In the ministry, we have their own representatives who speak to me time and again, probably on daily basis. Yes, we have spoken and I don’t think they will join and yes, we are concerned, but yes also reminding them of the enormous responsibility upon their necks and our own necks”.