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Experts deem relocating air agencies wrong

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By Usman Oladimeji

Lagos state remains the driving center for the Nigerian aviation industry.

In 2022, Sen. Hadi Sirika, the then minister of aviation, issued directive to move the headquarters of all aviation agencies from Lagos state to Abuja. However, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) former general manager Alhaji Abubakar Bibi has spoken out against the action, calling it a “misnomer” that must be reversed. Bibi claimed that the aviation agencies had no need to set up in Abuja given that Lagos state remains the driving center for the Nigerian aviation industry. Also, he mentioned that the inauguration of Nigeria Air on the last days of the previous administration’s operation, is a scam that must be called off.

Bibi further tasked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to rescind the directive and other decisions made by the former minister towards the end of the previous administration, claiming that these measures had a negative impact on the industry. For the success of the sector, the president, utilizing his potential in spotting talents, needs to designate a qualified individual as a minister for the sector. He emphasized that the industry as a whole needed to be rethought in light of its past poor run.

Tinubu administration needs to rework the entire system.

He noted that the former minister oversaw the industry for eight years without the management board, which was mandated by the law to make critical strategic decisions, such as hiring of necessary employees. For these reasons, he stated that the Tinubu administration needs to rework the entire system where most appointments were a smokescreen for other problems. Understand that Sirika gave the agency’s executives a 45 day deadline to relocate to Abuja in May 2020.

This was contained in a letter tagged ‘Relocation of Aviation Agencies’ Headquarters to Abuja,’ signed by Muhammad Shehu, Director, Human Resource Management on behalf of the ministry; dated May 4, 2020, with the reference number: FMA/PMD/7061/T/4. Sirika justified the order, saying it was required to manage limited resources and lower the expense of the government. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigerian Federal Airports Authority (FAAN), the Nigerian Investigation Safety Bureau (NSIB), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) were all impacted.

Committee on Aviation also deemed Nigeria Air to be a scam.

As per the letter, the agency executives were informed that the directive to relocate to Abuja had been in effect since 2012 and demanded prompt compliance. Sirika claimed that the ministry and the agencies would benefit from moving their headquarters out of Lagos as it will improve efficiency and service delivery. Elaborating on the Nigeria Air which he described as a scam, Bibi explained that Ethiopian Airlines’ Chairman had resigned because of the scam surrounding the entire arrangement.

Reportedly, the former minister turned Nigeria into a great farce when he feigned to launch a national carrier by acquiring an Ethiopian Aircraft and repainting it in Nigerian colors. The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation likewise deemed Nigeria Air to be a scam and called for those involved to be prosecuted. Additionally, Bibi stressed the importance of the incoming Minister of Aviation conferring with airline operators and other stakeholders to develop strategies that would stimulate and spur developments in the industry.

Everything related to aviation has to be reorganized.

If the government is heavily dedicated on reviving the sector, Bibi said it must involve the operators in the process. This is because the previous administration made many decisions without involving them. Everything related to aviation has to be reorganized, as the previous administration’s efforts were unimpressive. It is incumbent upon the President to employ competent individuals to oversee the sector. He reiterated that the incoming minister needs to prioritize collaborating with key industry players to revamp the sector.

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