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SMICA host community protests FAANs’ elimination by substitution in job placements

Strong crisis of confidence is brewing between the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and host community to the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport (SMICA), Owerri, the Imo State capital. The community youths are protesting what they described as alleged breach of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that grants them employment preferences ahead of other Nigerians.
Key demand of the protesting community youths is the stoppage of actions on the allocation of job slots for host communities of the airport.
Already, the community youths under the aegis of Onyeaghalanwanneya Youth Movement (OYM), has threatened to disrupt activities at the airport, in protest against the alleged marginalisation by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Business Hilights South East Bureau chief reports that SMICA was the first state-government built airport but was later taken over by the Federal Government and handed over to FAAN to manage.
OYM is calling for a probe by an independent body to prove their case of elimination by substitution being meted to them by FANN management.
According to the President of OYM, Mr. Alvan Opara, current management of the airport under FAAN has been in “the racketeering of host community’s job slots which is not acceptable to them hence the protest”.
Opara recalled that “When the then Imo State government, under the late Chief Sam Mbakwe, came up with the plan of building the Imo Airport in our clan, we willingly and happily gave out our land, which is our heritage for the project, believing that some employment rights and privileges will be accorded us when it becomes operational.
“But it would surprise or even shock Nigerians to know that the successive management of this airport have callously denied and deprived us of these rights. However, as if we have not suffered enough, the current management of the airport, under Mr. Henry Efobi, has become a sort of terrorist militia and reduced us to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in our own land.
OYM also revealed that part of the abuse of the understanding with FAAN included the cutting off of the community from the SMICA power supply line.
Continuing, Opara noted that “As landlords of the airport we are entitled to job opportunities. But this right has been grossly abused and trampled upon, as the current management connived and colluded with merchant politicians and impostors to divert host communities jobs to illegitimate persons.”
OYM therefore handed down a 21 days ultimatum saying “We are calling on the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to investigate or probe the activities of the manager of the Imo Airport as it relates to job slots for the airport host community within 21days or face mass protest from the community youths”.
Efforts to get the views of FAAN official on the matter proved abortive at the airport premises.