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.
Agric: FG targets 40 new mills for rice sufficiency
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
The Federal Government has urged investors to take advantage of the huge gaps between demand and supply of food commodities in Nigeria to invest in the country’s agriculture sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the call in a keynote address at the Agricultural Value Chain, organised by the ministry in Abuja, in collaboration with Eurobase Consult Limited, said government was facilitating the procurement of 40 more large-scale rice mills in a bid to achieve the target of self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018.
Represented by Director, Agribusiness and Marketing, Alhaji Musibau Azeez, the minister noted that the four million metric tonnes deficit from the seven million metric tonnes of rice demand needed to be bridged.
He noted, however, that the increase in the number of integrated rice mills to 27, by last year, had increased the milling capacity of the country. Ogbeh reiterated the stance that the private sector would take the lead in driving the Agriculture Promotion Policy (2016-2020), christened “The Green Alternative,” while “government facilitates as well as provides supporting infrastructures, systems, control processes and oversight.”
BUDGET: Buhari’s govt records highest budget performance
From Basil Obasi, Abuja
minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has extolled the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for achieving a landmark success in the 2016 budget performance, especially as it concerns capital expenditure budget and releases.
According to the minister, with the total of N753.6 billion released so far, out of a total allocation of N1.8 trillion approved for capital expenditure, performance is way beyond 42 per cent and clearly shows that the current administration has recorded the highest capital budget performance in the nation’s recent history, dwindling oil revenue notwithstanding.
Udoma explained that about N3.577 trillion, which represents 59 per cent of the N6.06 trillion 2016 budget has already been released. This amount, he said, includes a total of N2.44 trillion for capital, non-debt recurrent and service-wide vote expenditures, in addition to about N1.14 trillion, or 46.7 per cent, paid out to service domestic and foreign debts.
Total expenditure also includes about N44 billion transferred to the Sinking Fund to retire maturing obligations on bonds issued to contractors handling various projects across the country.
The minister further explained that a review showed the Ministry of Power with the highest allocation of N209.25 billion, followed by defense (N69.5 billion), and transport (N30.54 billion).
Tech: Technology transfer offices to meet industrial needs – DG
Director-General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Dan-Azumi Ibrahim, has underlined how the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in tertiary and research institutions help to meet industrial needs.
Speaking to the News Agency (NAN) in Abuja yesterday, he said IPTTO was to mainly stimulate the interest of scientists toward finding solutions to social and industrial problems in the country.
According to him, “Our universities and polytechnics are already centres of knowledge, but IPTTO is working hard to ensure outcomes of researches from these institutions are made available for industrial use speedily.”
The DG said to sustain the partnership, the competence of universities and polytechnics were put to test continually.
Said he: “As we continue to link them with the industries, it is expected to highlight the competence of those institutions in terms of standard of laboratories and expertise on a regular basis.
“If an industry is looking for an expertise to solve a particular phenomenon, we have tried to raise a data base of them across the country’s higher institutions.
“This is essentially to provide the leverage for both the industries and the researcher to speedily agree on research contracts that could impact on the society,” he said.