Worried that none of the country’s airports is rated among the best 10 in Africa, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) says it is leveraging on the Executive Order signed by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to effect drastic changes that would change the tide and push one or two Nigerian airports into the elitist ranking order. Touting, extortion by security officials, non-functional conveyor belts and poor air conditioners, as well as filthiness had been listed over the years as reasons for Nigerian airports low ranking both globally and within Africa.
Spokeswoman for FAAN, Mrs. Henriatta Yakubu who lauded the government’s Executive Order initiative said it had particularly emboldened the agency to eradicate all forms of touting at airports across the country,while also ensuring the cleanliness of the airports and elimination of multiple security checks. “We are now reaping the gains of the Executive Orders,” she said.
“If you go to our airports now it is very sterile. We have been able to handle the issue of the touts; you know we are working with the police. Nobody that has no business in the airport gets into the airport now. It is either you have a boarding pass or you have staff ID or a visitors’ card. If you don’t have any of these documents, you are no longer allowed into the airport”, she said
Yakubu listed the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja, and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) Kano as having benefited immensely from the Executive Order. Yakubu said the MMIA Lagos has been fully transformed from its previous state. She said the security agencies at the checking points have been streamlined, and that both arriving and departing air passengers experience stress free movement while all the scanners, conveyor belts are functionally adequately.
The Executive Orders has led to the speedy refurbishment of the toilets at E wing and other areas and the check in hall at the Lagos airport are now livelier with flight information display board positioned.
Airport security and other logistics have also been upgraded and strengthened to provide for seamless services for both local and international travelers. Mrs. Yakubu explained that the agency cannot completely eradicate manual checks during arrivals and departure. She emphasized however that such checks could be done when a security agent wants to confirm his or her suspicion.
“We are working with all the security agencies, and airlines to ease baggage movements electronically. But when there is a need to search baggage manually, we do so but that takes place at the baggage hall, not within the purview of where the passengers are”, she said.
At the Lagos airport, new directional display units have been provided to guide travellers, especially new ones, at the airports. The leaking Roof of ‘D Wing’ has since been fixed while continuous upgrade of facilities are still ongoing.
On the Abuja airport, she said FAAN is replicating the strides achieved at MMIA. In the past few months, the Abuja airport is wearing a new look with all the facilities functioning at optimal level. FAAN has also furnished and renovated the wing D of the airport to international standard while all the toilet facilities in other areas are now working efficiently 24 hour per day. The Executive Order has also resulted in the erection of a flight information board to properly guide all passengers on where to check in, board or purchase flight tickets.
It would be recalled that exercising Presidential authority, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, signed three executive orders on May 18th, 2017. The three executive orders signed by the Acting President are: the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, set to facilitate ease of doing business in Nigeria; support for local content in public procurement by the government and timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies. Airports businesses fall majorly on the aspect of promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, aimed at facilitating ease of doing business in the country. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), is managing over 22 airports across the country on behalf of the Federal Government.