‘FAAN’s Sack of Directors, GMs Could Reverse Gains of Reforms’

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Kunle Aderinokun

The recent sack of directors and general managers at the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) by the federal government has been described as an action that could reverse the gains of reforms in the aviation.

In fact, the sack, which has also been criticised for being politically motivated, is said to be capable of returning the aviation sector to the era characterised by airport underdevelopment against the defined international standards.

An aviation professional, who is privy to the inner workings of FAAN, contended that the sack was used as bait for the workers’ union to accede to the proposed concession of the airports.
FAAN recently sacked over 21 senior officials, who were engaged about four years ago and demoted others on what the agency referred to as “proper placement.”

In the wake of the sack, a FAAN source had disclosed to THISDAY that most of the directors, general managers, assistant general managers and deputy general managers employed under the former aviation minister, Senator Stella Oduah, have been sacked.

“They said that the post of directorship is political appointment and when the minister that appoints them is removed the directors should go with him or her. Among those removed are three acting directors and three substantive directors. One acting director was demoted and two substantive directors were also demoted, but the Director of Human Resources was retained.

“Meanwhile, two directors were appointed and they have started work. They are director of finance and accounts and the director of commercial and business development,” said the agency source
But the aviation professional, who spoke with THISDAY, condemned the sack and (in some cases) demotion of the staff , who were professional hires brought in from aeronautic engineering field (Boeing), the private sector, including the financial industry and engineering, amongst others, to turnaround the Nigerian aviation sector.

According to him, “The disengagement of these professional hires via demotion and outright sack was a humiliation. These hires should have been treated fairly as opposed to the treatment they gave them as if they are thieves. They did this by setting up a panel under the purview of ministry of transportation.

“Instead of commendation, these professional hires were variously condemned, rather under auspicious grounds of internal politics and tussle for management control and executive management, using the union (as a tool), who petitioned all those appointments in the name of proper placement.”

As part of their mandates, the source noted, there were existing strategy documents for the turnaround of the nation’s five international airports and linkage airports, which these professional hires were implementing, under the control of the executive management of agency, before they were disengaged.
“Those who benefit from the old order believe, if fully executed, all the windows of contracting and abuse of processes and self-aggrandisement would close.

“Before the reforms, key opportunities in commercial benefits and auxiliary airport development projects were politicised via red tapes to maintain status quo of continual airport underdevelopment against the defined international standards and thereby entrenching corruption activities in FAAN,” he said.