Aviation unions bicker over ‘controversial’ appointment

There is an ongoing war ranging between two of the aviation unions following an open confrontation between the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers ( NAAPE) and the president of the Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN), Benjamin Okewu.

NAAPE had written a petition to the ministry of transport, complaining about the secondment of the ATSSSAN President from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, to the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) which they said contravened laid down labour rules.

ATSSAN members in the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) who has the most active members are frowning at what they called the level division in the association which they said may lead to its being used for political reasons.

Besides NAAPE, another aviation union, the Nigeria Aviation Professionals Association (NAPA) had pitched its tent with the petition condemning the secondment of Okewu to AIB.

The unions have expressed their opposition towards Okewu’s transfer to AIB on the ground that such action negates the principles of their existence which opposes abuse of their office.

The unions are maintaining that they cannot be beneficiaries of what they had fought against over the years, describing the transfer of Okewu from NCAT on grade level 12 to AIB on level 15 as an affront on public service rules.

While the NAPA Secretary General, Abdulrasaq Saidu said the transfer of Okewu remained null and void until it follows the right procedures, ATTSSAN members in the NCAA are expressing worries that since the tenure of Okewu had expired that his present appointment at AIB amounted to “illegal elevation and promotion.”

ATSSSAN lamented how Okewu on assumption of office in AIB contributed to the internal crisis there by taking some controversial steps which include the unilaterally stopping the release of his members for an already approved official engagement and the termination of the contracts of older hands who had over 30 to 40 years of aviation background.

The unions are of the opinion that Okewu’s transfer to AIB may lead to personal vendetta which they said may lead to disharmony amongst the various unions.