By Sumaila Ogbaje
Mr Samuel Wuyep, Chairman, Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN), Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja Branch, has appealed to top Nigerian Government officials and other VIPs to always obey airport laws.
Wuyep, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Thursday in Abuja, said that airport staff were often being attacked by top government officials, who usually break rules.
He said that Nigerian elites, who use airport found it difficult to observe standard procedures and practices as it was done globally, adding that VIPs often feel offended when asked to observe rules.
ATSSAN Chairman disclosed that many top officials saw it as an affront on their personality when asked to remove their shoes and belt before passing through security scanners by a security officer.
According to him, they don’t like to respect simple instructions of aviation procedures.
“They don’t always like to remove their shoes and belts as the screening procedure demands and anytime you ask them to do so based on standard operational procedure, they would feel you are embarrassing them.
“So, we are faced with a lot of difficulties while trying to enforce standard aviation laws.
“Right from outside when you are coming in, the traffic situation is not too good, motorists would always want to by-pass the queue while coming in and they may want to park at wrong places instead of designated parking areas.
“Once our aviation security officials try to correct them that the parking was not good, they would feel embarrassed because they feel that at their levels nobody should talk to them.
“They might even use the protection units of the various agencies, from the armed forces and the police to harass those people that are enforcing the laws,’’ he said.
Wuyep also accused the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), of not doing enough to protect and defend its officers, who often face assault from the so-called VIPs.
He said that some the VIPs often raise false allegations against the workers thereby subjecting them to unjust punishment, adding that this situation and fear always dampen the morale of the officers.
According to him, at the end of the day, you would find out that the morale of the worker is gradually diminishing because nobody stands for them when they are doing their work.
“There was a recent case of a security officer being humiliated by a minister as the officer saw him with his convoy not moving in accordance with the designed traffic movement at the airport and the officer was trying to correct the convoy.
“Eventually, they turned out against him and he was almost sent parking from the job.
“A lot of things are going on that we want the public to know about that we are not finding it easy to enforce basic aviation laws.
“If this is not corrected, the dream of meeting up with the global standards will be a mirage.
“I am appealing to the authorities concerned to at least to give us some little privileges and immunity and also ensure that those that break the laws are prosecuted to serve as deterrent to other airport users.
“Most times, the victim or whoever is involved with such situation is left alone to carry his or her own cross,” he said.
Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, said it was not entirely correct that the management did not defend or protect the staff whenever they had issues with airport users.
Yakubu, while acknowledging the fact that there were instances when some VIPs assaulted airport staff for doing their jobs.
He said that the management had taken certain actions against those involved.
She said that the management had never at any time allowed any member of staff to be molested at their duty post without fighting for them.
“It is not entirely correct that the management is not doing enough to protect the airport security officers.
“Yes, there instances where officers were being assaulted by the VIPs at the toll gate and the management had to rise to the defense of the staff in Abuja.
“The Airport Manager and myself had to even meet the Airport Commandant over the matter.
“So there is never anytime we hear of any attack on the airport staff that we did not respond because it is the responsibility of the management to protect and defend its staff.
“At the same time, the management has emphasized that every member of staff should operate within the laid down rules at their duty posts,’’ she said.