No fewer than 600 workers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are set to lose their job in the agency.
A source close to the agency told Sahara Reporters that mostly affected are those who have put in at least 25 years into the service. Others without proper employment letters are also penciled for a purge.
The source told our correspondent that the downsizing in FAAN became necessary due to planned concession of four international airports in the first phase by the Federal Government.
According to the source, the downsizing is one of the conditions put forward by would-be concessioner to four airports – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.
FAAN as at December 2015 had the total staff strength of 5,308. The number is split among technical, 1153, representing 21.72 per cent; non-technical, 4154 (78.26 percent) and Executive staff, 1 (0.02 percent).
The agency as at last December had over N30bn in pension liabilities that were unfunded, while indebtedness of airlines to the agency has negatively impacted its finances and limited its ability to be self-sustaining.
Critics said there were staffing inefficiencies in most of the airports, compared with other airports of similar sizes around the world. Also, there is the issue of aging staff with very little competitive drive, without systematic evaluation.
The source disclosed that the unions are however not comfortable with the planned downsizing of the workforce, as indications emerged that the government may not be able to adequately pay them their severance packages and benefits as required.
The source said: “FAAN through the Ministry of Transport will disengage some staff, cutting across all the departments, before the end of the year. As I am talking to you now, names are being compiled, and some staff have been told to tender their resignation letters if they don’t feel like continuing with FAAN.
“But most of those to be affected are staff who have put in 25 years and above into the service. Most of them are either General Managers or Assistant General Managers in their various departments. However, the unions may not take it lightly with them because, from all indications, there is no fund on ground to adequately pay them off and the unions are not taking it lightly with them.”
In apparent preparation for the weeding out of old hands, FAAN in the last couple of months has engaged the services of staff in announcement unit, security, commercial and protocol, among others. No fewer than 250 staff have been engaged in the past six months by the agency.
There is a cold war brewing within the Corporate Communications Department of FAAN. Immediate past General Manager in the department, Mr. Yakubu Dati, and his successor, Ag. General Manager, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, are not the best of friends at the moment as the latter claimed that the former is undermining her work.
Dati who was affected by the recent ‘right placement’ in FAAN still acts as a consultant to the agency and has been dishing out press statements to journalists, and Yakubu, who was transferred from Abuja to Lagos, is not comfortable with the arrangement. For instance, Dati was the one who represented the department at the Airports Council International (ACI) seminar that ended on Friday in Maputo, Mozambique, as Consultant on ACI-Africa to the Managing Director, Engr. Saleh Dunma, while no other staff of the department was represented.
Also, a particular press statement that was sent out to select journalists during the week by Datti was well-used in the media, while Yakubu re-sent the same material to journalists, but with less media usage.