THE outgoing minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, seems not to be deterred from going ahead with his unpopular policies, the latest being the gale of sacks he has unleashed on the sector even when his tenure comes to an end in less than one week.
Already, Sirika has removed two of the chief Executives of the aviation agencies, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, and his counterpart at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr Matthew Lawrence Pwajok, whose positions have been hurriedly filled with new appointees selected by the outgoing minister.
While he has immediately replaced the sacked FAAN MD with another official, Mr Kabir Mohammed, he replaced the sacked NAMA MD with Mr Tayib. Odunowo.
The last-minute sack Tayib has sparked off mixed reactions amongst key players who believe the timing is wrong as the outgoing minister should have been preparing to hands off activities for the incoming minister.
While the fate of other CEOs yet to be sacked are still hanging in the air, the body language of the minister is tilting towards bringing to an end their tenure following his outburst at the inauguration of the N2. 8 billion expanded terminal and a cargo facility at the Murtala Mohammed Airport on Monday.
Speaking at inauguration of the expansion of the first phase of the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) at the Lagos airport, the minister seemed not be bothered about the outcry over the last-minute sack as he used the opportunity to announce that more sack/reorganization must continue.
Sirika backed up the controversial sack by stating that the sack of the CEOs has the approval of the president, even while he justified his action on the fact that since government is a continuum the timing people are complaining about is immaterial.
He said “The reorganisation approved by Mr. President is an ongoing process and it will continue to go on. There is nothing under the carpet if Mr President is approving it. So, government is a continuum; they had their timeline, tenure to come in and time to go. We all have our time to go.
“This is governance and it is a serious business. Whatever action or inaction you are taking, you are taking it on behalf of over 200 million people. There has been a new Accountant -General of the Federation; there has been a new Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board, North East Development Commission (NEDC) and so many others. So, why me? Why is aviation the focus? What is the intention? What do you want to achieve? Why me?”
He used the occasion to score the outgoing government high, insisting that the government had improved the sector more than it met it.
Citing how the Buhari-led government had doubled the number of airlines, airports and quadrupled the number of passengers in the last eight years, Sirika emphasized how the seriousness attached to the sector by the government, made the industry the second in the world to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic after Colombia.
“Buhari has done extremely well in civil aviation. I don’t care when you criticise me. Whether you did the criticism well or not. If you do it, I am humble enough to look through. If you are wrong, I look at it and shine and if you are right, then, I shine again,” he said.
Speaking on the GAT expansion of the terminal named Zulu terminal, which was carried out by MessrsGlovesly Pro-Project Limited, Sirika declared that this would raise the capacity of the terminal from the former 254 passenger capacity to 1,054.
The facility which comes with the complements of three standard departure halls, three VIP Lounges, two protocol lounges, three lifts, four toilets, five office spaces and five staircases and others, were conceived to address the decades-long limited capacity challenge of the terminal and cargo facilities in the industry.
The Minister of Aviation Senator HadiSirika has inaugurated a new expanded passenger terminal in Lagos.
The terminal Sirikasaid, would accommodate more passengers as the old terminal and its facilities which had capacity for 256 were inadequate and overstretched.
Facilities available in the expanded terminal include: 24 toilets, 2 VIP’s areas, 3 lifts, 5 airline offices, 768 number of passenger sitting capacity with a space for reduced mobility passengers.
“This indeed is significant, am sure you will agree with me this has been transformed and part of the efforts to leave civil aviation better than we met it. Since the Buhari’sadministration we have been trying to improve upon all of the facilities that we have around. The project started early last year, and I am glad that the first phase was completed in record time, and is being commissioned today.
“You will agree with me that the geometric increase in population of Nigeria, which resulted in increase in passenger volume has overwhelmed available facilities at this terminal and as part of efforts to address this challenge, the Federal Government at some point developed the Zulu terminal to complement the existing old terminal, but the capacity limitation situation still persisted.
“Oftentimes, particularly at peak periods, you will observe that facilities in this terminal are usually overstretched because the volume of passengers using the facilities far outweighs the capacity available.
“We therefore evaluated the situation, and decided to expand the terminal, as a short term measure to address the situation. It is our intention to build a new and much bigger domestic terminal in the nearest future.
“The facility we are commissioning today is a product of that thought, and it is only the first phase of the project. As soon as we put this to use, we hope that the incoming administration will continue with the construction of the second phase. As you will be seeing in due course, this facility contains brand new protocol lounges, airline office spaces, VIP lounges, with the complements of conveniences that will enhance safety, security and comfort of our esteemed passengers.
In his own remarks at the event, the immediate past FAAN MD, Captain Yadudu said the newly completed and inaugurated terminal fitted with all the facilities passengers need will give relief to the users and stakeholders.
Mixed feelings continue to trail change in nomenclature of ministry of aviation
The recent approval by the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari for a change in the nomenclature of the ministry of aviation to ministry of aviation and aerospace has continued toe elicit reactions from stakeholders within the sector.
While some outrightly waived off the idea premised on the huge costs implication and for its non practicality, others said the sector needs better facilities and good business environment than a mere name change that will impact the sector and the ease of doing business more positively.
Speaking on the name change, an aviation analyst, MrLanreBamgbose said the name change will end up being more of typical cost head in the budget than in substance.
“The issues of aerospace are already cast in law under science and technology, bearing in mind how it bears on others issues of existence including military and space research. This gargantuan of a name will probably be more of typical cost head in the budget than in substance. I am yet yo see anywhere in the world where this is lumped together, even the USA separated NASA from FAA. Anyway, under same minister we moved from ministry of transportation to aviation and now to aviation and aerospace. The incoming minister perhaps will need to look again at the possible confusion he may have inherited and do the needful.”
Also, according to an aviation lawyer, MrPekunSowole, who described the name change as a joke, he declared: “Answer is to check the names such ministries are called in other countries. United Kingdom till date maintains its Ministry of Aviation.
This is a case of old wine in new bottle. Did the minister think through the cost associated with the name change? What is the aim behind the change?
Another key player who spoke in confidence though agreed that there could be a reason for the name change, which may be unknown, but argued that lumping the two ministry of aviation and the aerospace together, will ordinarily have conflicting operating principles.
“Civil aviation is under licensure bound by regulations that prevent licensed operators from making discretionary decisions while exercising the privileges of their licences.
On the other hand, aerospace is outer space, research and its personnel free-thinking, yet, not hamstrung by any rules or regulations. Maybe it’s worth experimenting.”
Copyright © 2022 Nigerian Tribune Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).