The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika Monday said the ongoing re-organisation in many of the aviation agencies would continue. He denied that the exercise was shrouded in secrecy, maintaining that President Muhammadu Buhari gave his approval to the shake-up.
He stated this yesterday while commissioning phase one of the expansion project at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), against the backdrop of recent reorganization in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which saw Kabir Yusuf Mohammed replace Capt Rabiu Yadudu while Mr. Tayib Adetunji Odunowo, Director of Aerodrome And Airspace Standards at Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), as the new managing director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). He replaces the Acting Managing Director of NAMA, Mr. Mathew Lawrence Pwajok.
He said, “The re-organisation approved by Mr. President is an ongoing process and would continue to go. There is nothing under the carpet if it is being approved by Mr. President. Government is a continuum; they have their timeline, tenures, and time to come in and time to go like we all have our time to go. Governance of 200 million people is serious business. Whatever action or inaction you do, you are doing it on behalf of 200 million people.”
He noted that re-organisation in the aviation industry was not new while drawing attention to some other appointments done in other sectors that had not elicited some criticism, describing it as mischief.
There is an Account General of the Federation and other appointments that have been done. Why is this different? Why is aviation a focus? What is the intention, what do you want to achieve? Why this one?
Explaining the cost of fire trucks which costs have elicited uproar, the Minister said by the time the fire truck contract was awarded some two years ago, he addressed the media telling them the cost of each of the equipment put at N1.2 billion.
“I told them the cost of fire trucks, I told them the procurement, I told them how long it would be. We delivered them; we brought them but because there was an election and we came to deliver them and it suddenly became news. When we issue those contracts, we addressed the media in the Villa.”
“You heard the numbers but it did not make headline news. At that time, one of you or some of you said the Minister said each of the trucks is N1.2 billion. The same person said he found the cost to be N800 million. I said ok. I will accept your figure. I said to add 1 percent stamp duty, add five percent sundry tax, add 7.5 VAT, add training, add Customs Duty, add spares, shipping, add clearance, add transportation, add all these, and then tell me how much it is. Also, add the cost of Naira to the dollar. We gave the person when it was N360 to a dollar.”
Speaking about phase one of the VIP protocol lounge, Sirika stated that the project was conceived to address the decades-long limited capacity challenge of the terminal, stressing that the geometric increase in the population of Nigeria, which resulted in an increase in passenger volume had overwhelmed available facilities at this terminal.
As part of efforts to address this challenge, he said 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, and VIP lounges, with the complements of conveniences that will enhance the safety, security, and comfort of our esteemed passengers.
The project started early last year, and I am glad that the first phase was completed in record time, and is being commissioned today”.