LESS than 24 hours after the earlier threat issued by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to shut down airports across the country following the seven-month-old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has assured that airports will be secured.
This is just as key players in the country’s aviation sector have described the students’ consideration of closing the airports as a wrong decision that will not bring the necessary solutions.
The spokesperson of FAAN, Mrs Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, spoke to the Nigerian Tribune on phone and said under the prevailing circumstances, everything possible within the ambit of the law will be done to protect airport operations from disruption.
She said: “You know FAAN will not remain silent under this condition, all security officers are alert. You know we have all security officers at the airport because we know that things like this will always happen. Therefore, to protect properties, facilities and even lives of passengers, FAAN never rests on its oars to do what is necessary.”
A management officer at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the agency responsible for coordinating aircraft landing and take-off, fish-avis flight operations through the services provided by the air traffic controllers, said there was no cause for alarm not, as flight operations would not be disrupted.
Reacting to the planned shutdown, a former military commandant of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and the managing director of Centurion Security Services, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) stated that the consideration of NANS to close all airports to hit the government hard end to meet the demands of ASUU is not the best solution.
According to Ojikutu: “The fact remains that in a situation like this, to think of closing down airports has no relation to the matter at hand and no relation. It behooves NANS to know that civil aviation is highly regulated and any attempt at protest around such a very sacred national facility impinges on the sovereignty of the nation.
“Airports are not marketplaces as they are highly controlled. Even such protest by NANS cannot be condoned at the semi-restricted area of the landslide area of the airport. To be forewarned is to be forewarned. The thought by NANS to close down civil aviation is ill-advised, indeed an aberration and should be discounted as such.
“NANS should instead visit the National Assembly complex and the Federal Ministry of Education in peaceful protest, otherwise the attack dogs of the state will devour them if they tend to be unruly and destructive,” Ojikutu argued.
…NANS says no return to lockdown, warns against attack on protesting students
The President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Umar Faruk, has said there will be no going back on the plan to close Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos from today. Faruk insisted that until the strike is called off, the students will not relent to street protests and blockade of roads and public institutions across cities of Nigeria.
However, NANS warned against any attack on the protesting students by either state or non-state actors.
The call for caution was contained in a statement by Ojo Raymond Olumide, who is also the chairman, NANS National Task Force on #EndASUUStrikeNow, issued on Sunday. NANS said the warning became useful because it got hold of a plan by state and non-state actors to attack the protesting students.
“We have been properly informed about the government’s plan to attack us with both state and non-state actors.
“It is on this note that we appeal to the international community to pay strict attention to our protest as we begin a new phase tomorrow (Monday),” the statement said.
It maintained that an attack on his protest would be a “breach and an attack on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 1981, a treaty-turned Act, which does not depart from does not accommodate any form. and Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which provides for the right to freedom of association and assembly.”
However, the student body admitted that it has been invited for a meeting by Speaker, House of Representatives, Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila, scheduled for Tuesday. Despite the invitation, NANS said it will continue its closure of international airports on Monday.
The statement further reads: “Our attention has been drawn to news that the Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Honorable Femi Gbajabiamila has written a letter to the national leadership of ASUU for a meeting regarding the ongoing strike action.
“As much as we welcome the dialogue for Tuesday, we insist that the second phase of our action to occupy airspaces by closing all international airports across the country continues. In fact, someone like Gbajabiamila should also come out to address students.”