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Aviation: Disquiet over Sirika’s last-minute decisions

There is disquiet in the aviation sector over what stakeholders and operators called last-minute decisions by the Ministry of Aviation under Senator Hadi Sirika as…

There is disquiet in the aviation sector over what stakeholders and operators called last-minute decisions by the Ministry of Aviation under Senator Hadi Sirika as minister, Daily Trust on Sunday can report.

Stakeholders say recent decisions by the ministry could paint the sector in bad light and block investment opportunities.

Some of the decisions which stakeholders have faulted include the recent concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, which they said was shrouded in secrecy.

Also there are indications of an impending sweeping leadership change among the aviation agencies, with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) being the biggest casualty.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the Ministry of Aviation, last week announced that the concession of Abuja and Kano airports had been approved by the Federal Executive Council.

This agreement, under a public-private partnership arrangement, will be effective for 20 years for the NAIA and 30 years for MAKIA.

In addition, the ministry said the Corporacion American Airport Consortium was committed to making upfront payments of USD7million for NAIA and USD 1.5 million for MAKIA.

During the concession period, total projected nominal revenues accruable from the combined concession of NAIA and MAKIA exceed $4billion US.

It stated that over 70 per cent of these projected revenues would be payable to the FAAN, thereby generating additional revenue sources for the federal government.

But stakeholders said the concession programme had not been transparent and called for a reversal of it by the incoming government.

Apart from concessions, stakeholders also faulted a move to reshuffle aviation agencies and sack the chief executive officers about a week to the end of the administration.

Daily Trust on Sunday reliably gathered that the minister has concluded plans to sack all heads of agencies, with the FAAN managing director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu already asked to go as his tenure will soon expire.

The regional manager, North West of the FAAN and Abuja airport manager, Kabir Yusuf, are said to have been pencilled down as replacement.

A highly placed source in the ministry told our correspondent in confidence yesterday that “there is an element of truth in the planned sack of chief executive officers.”

He, however, said it might not involve all the agencies, adding that an official statement would be issued very soon.

There are also fears about the takeoff of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, despite the pending suit following the insistence of the minister that the airline would commence operation before May 29.

An aviation analyst, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd), challenged what he called “vicious movements by the minister at “quarter to go” even as he said the minister has no power to remove some of the chief executive officers whose appointments are tenured.

“Does the minister have the power to remove any of the chief executive officers, especially those who are tenured? Why do they want to remove them now? He can’t remove the directors-general of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) because they are tenured. They must finish their tenures before they are removed unless they commit a criminal offence,” he said.

We are going to take a position – Union

One of the aviation unions, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), said it would take a position.

The deputy general secretary of the ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole said the developments in the twilight of the administration “are disturbing,” adding that only the ministry can explain some of the actions.

Minister’s actions followed due process – Aide

When contacted yesterday, the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation, Dr James Odaudu, said all the actions of the minister followed due process.

He said there was nothing like last-minute decisions as the minister is still in office and continues to head the aviation industry on behalf of the president, whose tenure has not expired.

“Is there anything called last minute in government? He remains minister until Mr President pronounces the council dissolved and he has not done that. And the president remains until he hands over to the incoming.

“On the issue of concession, you and I are aware that it has been there since the beginning of this administration and it has to go through all the processes. So, if the process is concluded towards the end of the administration, why would you call it a last-minute decision? There is no action of the minister that is not in the authority of the president,” he said.

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