The Federal Government has apologised to the flying public over the strike embarked upon by the National Union of Air Transport Employees and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, vowing that it will not happen again.
On Monday, local and international flights were disrupted for several hours as a result of strike embarked upon by aviation unions across the country.
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, described the action as wrong, inhuman and illegal, stressing that the enforcement of a law recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari has begun in earnest.
Sirika explained that the FAAN Act signed into law by President Buhari last year prohibits industrial action and riots in the aviation sector.
He said: “This is very important to the traveling public. First we apologise to our teeming passengers in this difficult moment.
Secondly, this will not happen in the future by the grace of God. And the reason is simple, aviation is an essential service, the Act has been assented to by Mr. President, so strikes and riots around our airports are prohibited by the laws of the land.
“Now that we have the Act in place assented to by Mr President and passed by the National Assembly, we will deal with it according to the law.
“We will ensure no essential service is being disrupted by anybody no matter how aggrieved. There are other channels of expressing grievances when they arise but they are not permitted to go on strike because aviation is an essential service and its seen so by the law of the land now.
“I will give you an example, there was an airline that had to return to base because it couldn’t land. Imagine if there was a patient on that aircraft? Imagine somebody attending to a very serious issue or matter at hand or business or a student trying to catch up with a exam and then because of somebody who is aggrieved, some other person dies in the process.
“Government will no longer allow that. So it’s in the law of the land, check the FAAN Act, it’s been assented to and it’s going to take place soon, in fact now, from today we will not allow that.
“As a government our ears are always open, government is open to listen to any grievances and there are procedures for dealing with this kind of grievances. They should please desist from this, it is wrong, it is inhuman, it is not allowed, it is not permitted and we will not be permitting any longer.”