TENSION is presently brewing between the aviation unions and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) over an ongoing recruitment exercise into some departments that contribute to making the authority carry out its statutory responsibilities of making the airports conducive and safe for flight operations.
The aviation unions made up of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) are at loggerheads with the management of FAAN over the recruitments of some candidates into the departments of Aviation Security and Fire and Safety in FAAN.
According to the unions: “it was noted the report was influenced by political interference outside laid down procedure and that the current recruitments exercise are fundamentally flawed to the point that they are fragmented, fractured and inconsistent with the principal objectives of having young, qualified, healthy and qualitative Aviation Security and Aviation Safety and Fire fighting personnel.”
The unions have expressed their grievance at the violation of the country’s rules guiding against such recruitments in line with the civil service rules on one hand and the civil aviation rules of engagement.
The beginning of the latest crisis according to the unions, was when they discovered some anomalies, including falsification of documents and the lack of qualification of so many of the candidates already given employment.
The latest recruitments which they said were flawed with sentiments have failed to conform with the international civil aviation rules stipulating the educational qualification that must be possessed to get employment into the various offices that make up the critical departments in FAAN and other aviation agencies.
Without mincing words, the two departments at the centre of the latest recruitment controversy form the critical components that make up FAAN because of the sensitive role they play in making operations at any of the country’s airports safe and secure.
It is expected that to work in the departments of security or fire safety of FAAN, you must be intelligently and physically alert.
Besides, you need to be up to date with happenings in aviation development around the globe, which obviously may have been absent during the screening and recruitment of the latest candidates in view of the revelations from the unions on it.
It is also expected that these two departments, like others, require highly cerebral workers who can spontaneously respond to emergencies like fire outbreak or security threats at the airport anytime.
Under this condition, no one needs rocket science to be told that it is only qualified people with youthful mind and in tune with aviation details that deserve to be recruited without any emotional, religious or tribal sentiments.
While the Crucial Moment is not trying to be judgmental about the latest recruitment controversy, at the same time while the unions cannot just concoct their position on it, one obvious thing is that all is not well between the FAAN management and the unions over the latest recruitment.
It is hoped that the FAAN management and the relevant principals will review the exercise as it is better late than never should any emergency rear its head.
Following the latest controversy, all hands are on the deck to see how the FAAN management intends to convince Nigerians that due process was followed in recruiting this set of people.
Agreed that the authority, like others, have the right to recruit workers, but considerations must be given when it concerns critical areas like security of the airports at this time that terrorism is becoming a global concern.
This again brings to the fore the hitherto unnecessary interference of the political class in all sensitive issues concerning aviation which has mainly contributed to the decay in the sector as things are no longer done based on merit.
As the unions continue to tackle the latest recruitment, one obvious thing is that because aviation security is not negotiable, there is therefore the absolute need for critical components that make up security such as the availability of adequate fire cover with quality and qualified personnel to drive this to be given priority devoid of any sentiment.
The whole world is however watching and hoping that the relevant authorities will give priority to merit while recruitment issues come up as this will further reposition the sector towards the capacity needed to withstand emergencies.