From Uche Usim, Abuja
Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that personnel in the Aviation Security (AVSEC) directorate of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) would start bearing arms once the ministry completes the transformation process.
He described Nigeria’s airport security apparatus as appalling and laughable, stressing that the planned reformation was no longer an option but a necessity if the sector was to attain greater heights.
Speaking at an aviation forum at the weekend, Sirika said the ministry had received the Presidency’s nod to immediately overhaul FAAN’s AVSEC and transform it into an efficient body similar to the United States Transport Security Administration (TSA).
“Our aviation security is laughable and we now have approval to reposition the AVSEC to take the shape of the TSA of the USA, fully-kitted, well-trained, well-educated with firearms. We have the approval and have gone to the Ministry of Interior to enquire what is needed to achieve this. We are engaging them in an inter-ministerial capacity and when we iron it all out, you will see the changes,” the Minister said.
Sirika further disclosed that the ongoing restructuring at the FAAN was far from over, adding that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) have also been penciled down for the same exercise.
According to Sirika, the ministry has begun redeploying, re-assigning, demoting and terminating appointments of staff after discovering a perennial manpower imbalance in various parastatals, especially FAAN.
He said: “The restructuring became imperative because of the top-heaviness in these agencies, with a combined total of 88 general managers on grade level 17 and above on the payroll, especially those unqualified to be there. Government is handling the restructuring in phases and this will go around, leaving a leaner and more effective agencies, instead of the over-bloated workforce that has provided little or no impact in the system.”
Sirika also shed light on the proposed airport concession and the Chinese-funded terminal buildings under construction.
“The Chinese terminals are not build-operate-and-transfer projects. It was a loan, which the Chinese provided $500 million and Nigeria provided $100 million counterpart funding. Even at that, the biggest of those terminals will be doing 1.5 million passengers annually but what we are looking at is different and larger.
“The terminals were done, kudos to the originators, to the best of their thinking. As for the one in Abuja, we will have to move it as it is blocking the control tower and the fire service. But we are already building and we have to put it to use. The same story in Lagos too. So the planned concession and the new terminal buildings are two different things,” he said.