Aviation

‘FAAN relocation and criticism’

FAAN

By Chukwuemeke Iwelunmo

There have been several criticisms since the announcement of the relocation of the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) back to Lagos from Abuja.

It would be recalled that about four years ago, the former minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika, ordered the relocation of agencies to Abuja from Lagos.

It was, however, observed that after the relocations if the agencies to Abuja, some of the directorates were scartterd due lack of proper coordination.

For instance, while the office of the managing director was located at the old wing of the local airport (private jets terminal), some of the directors were squarted in pilot’s lounge making it difficult for them to operate.

In fact, findings by our correspondent has shown that two directors have been sharing one office with one computer system, a secretary without privacy since the movement to Abuja.

To this end, some aviation stakeholders have described the movement to the nation’s capital as political, which they believed would adversely affected the organisations operations due to lack of coordination of activities, especially concerning treatment of official files and memos, adequate inspection of airport facilities and staff welfare.

It is, however, worthy of note that the movement to Abuja took FAAN many steps backwards as major facilities at the busiest airport in the country, Murtala Mohammed International airport detoririated. The managing director had little or no time to do his jobs as the Minister of ministry became his office. ‘Ghana Must Go bags containing official files were moved between Lagos and Abuja for treatment as Lagos remained the operational headquarters as a result of lack of offices in Abuja

Four years after, FAAN has spent billions of naira in settling workers relocation allowances and still battling to pay those who have not been paid when the relocation to Lagos order was announced.

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Prior to the movement to Abuja, the unions in the aviation sector vehemently warned against it but the then Minister, Hadi Sirika refused to heed to their warning. He threatened to pull down the FAAN headquarters to ensure that there was no single office in FAAN just like he did to the then Accident Investigation Bureau but the unions stood firm.

The relocation order has been mared by criticisms from some northerners without knowing the truth truth or the matter regarding the relocations. Lagos remained the hub of aviation, despite the fact that Abuja is the capital city, Lagos remained the economic hub and all aviation related activities are in Lagos.

In a statement issued on January 13, 2024, FAAN’s Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Obiageli Orah, said the agency “was ill-advised in the first place to move the headquarters to Abuja when there was no single FAAN building in Abuja to accommodate all of them at once.”

Orah explained that over 60 percent of FAAN’s activities were taking place in Lagos as the commercial city commanded huge passenger volume.

For the part of the general secretary of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ocheme Aba, says: “The headquarters of any organisation can not be cited in the convinience of the owners but it must be in the interest of the business with a view to survive especially with regards to raw materials.”

NUATE scribe said aviation is in Lagos while Abuja was just imagined adding, that every business operational and administrative headquarters concerning aviation have been built around Lagos.

“We are back to square one, common sense is now prevailing. I hope tomorrow another person will not come and read political meanings to this situation and do all over again. Business dicisions should be based on business parameters”

Aba noted that the unions have earlier warned against such movement to Abuja and it’s cost implications adding that it has left alot of overhead costs for the agencies that will be affected.

In a swift reaction to the criticism, Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, said FAAN headquarters to Lagos is not politically motivated as
the decision had drawn criticism and support, with Ali Ndume, chief whip of the senate, saying it would have political consequences.

In a statement on Sunday, Idris said the allegations were “unfounded”, noting the relocation is a practical step to improve the operational competence and reduce the cost of operation.

He said the relocation was not to marginalise any section of the country.

“It is not true that the relocation to Lagos of the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is political moves aimed at marginalizing a section of the country,” Idris said.

“These allegations are unfounded. Instead, these are pragmatic administrative steps to improve operational efficiency and reduce operating costs.”

Three aviation unions have commended Federal government for the relocation order to staff describing it as a welcome development.

The unions have on several occasions expressed concerns over
the hasty manner in which staff were relocated to Abuja when no adequate arrangement was made in the areas of office accommodation, infrastructure and other logistics for smooth
relocation

The unions regretted that senior management staff were left stranded without
an office and working tools while junior staff were helpless without provision for documents and working files and most worrisome was absence of backup for data.

“It is our hope that if such movement is required in future all necessary infrastructure must be in place.

The unions include the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria

But for a one time Rector Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Capt Samuel Caulcrick, FAAN is serving the pubicl and stakeholders and everything concerning aviation is in Lagos and for development.

“It makes sense to have FAAN in Lagos for efficiency”.

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