The minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has proposed to write to President Muhammadu Buhari for permission to constitute inter-ministerial and inter-agency committee to salvage Aero that has been enmeshed in crisis.
They ministries, he said will comprise those of aviation, justice, finance and labour and productivity while the agencies will be made up of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He also said unions and workers of the troubled airline will be involved in the rescue mission.
Sirika who disclosed this when he met with the representatives of Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) stated that it would not augur well should Aero fizzle out.
To ensure the return and survival of the airline, Sirika however said the staff would have to make some sacrifices while assured that he would do his utmost ensure that the airline returns to service.
He explained that the essence of the inter-ministerial and agency committee is not only to get to the root of the problems of the airline but also to know who is not sincere between AMCON on the one hand and the workers represented by the unions on the other.
In the interim, appealed to the management to re-open Aero’s offices and allow the workers to go back to work while the unions should guarantee that while that was being done, the workers on their part would not exhibit attitude that would make the management to feel unsafe while carrying out its work.
“We have a very serious problem in our hands. It needs participation, understanding, sincerity. We have a fantastic brand in Aero. That brand is slowly being destroyed. That brand is about to be extinct and except we join hands and do something together we may not be able to resolve the issue. The issue is not about you and me but about our children, who will inherit this from us.
“Many people blame Aero but I don’t think so; Aero’s problems did not start with AMCON coming in. It started way back. The world is watching what we are going to do; the president is concerned, so are the unions and the workers. How do we return the brand to the air and not kill it? How do we revive Aero, retain all the “workers and ensure that it continues to operate?
There is no how we would sit down as government and allow people to lose their jobs or sit down and kill businesses. There is no difference between Indomie and Aero Contractor. They are both brands. We have to collectively proffer solutions to Aero’s problems. Let us change Aero’s story and do something that will make Aero fly,” he said.
Sirika advised that while efforts were being made to resolve the crisis in the airline, stakeholders should not be driven by external forces.
He said there should be honesty in whatever solution stakeholders are proffering saying “…posterity will judge us if we fail to tackle this crisis honestly and sincerely.”
Earlier in his address, the former general secretary of NUATE, Mr. Abdulkareem Motajo had told the minister that AMCON was not telling the truth about the situation in the airline.
He said the unions had earlier taken AMCON to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity to look into the issues raised by the unions as a third party but regretted that AMCON refused to do the right thing.
To resolve the crisis bedeviling the airline, Motajo said both Aero and AMCON should be ready to do the right adding that the organisation’s insincerity had had prolonged the matter.
“AMCON must be ready to do the right thing if we must move forward .Workers in Aero are ready to continue to fly; workers are ready to negotiate but the management must be ready to open the offices.
“We want a round table discussion with the CBN, ministry of finance, AMCON, workers, unions and legacy companies,” he said.
Similarly, the president of ATSSSAN, Mr. Benjamin Okewu stated that the unions never expected the resolution of the crisis in Aero to be an easy task but “we believe that if all the stakeholders are committed they can bring the airline back.
He lamented that none of the 12,000 entities under AMCON had had successful stories to tel.
He said when AMCON took over the banks, it told the workers to go home adding that “it is the same strategy that it wants to apply in Aero.”
“We consulted the ministry of labour and productivity on Aero crisis. The ministry even put a Caveat that if any party has problem while trying to resolve the crisis, it should be consulted but AMCON never did that. Instead, it sent the workers home.”
“AMCON brought forensic experts to look at Aero’s books but till date AMCON has refused to make the findings by these experts public. We have looked at Aero’s books and we have seen what is wrong. What we have been suggesting to AMCON for Aero to survive is not going down well with AMCON,” said Okewu.