The federal government has fortified security at Nigeria’s airports to avert breaches and ensure unimpeded flight operations, just as it has installed new automated check-in systems at international airports.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Hamisu Yadudu, during an interactive session with journalists to usher in Airport Council International-Africa (ACI) Security Week.
Yadudu said the fortification of security at airports in the country include the training of security personnel, coordination of joint security operatives including the agency’s Aviation Security (AVSEC), the police, the Nigeria Air Force and other security operatives to man each airport.
FAAN has also acquired and installed security equipment to add to the existing ones and also removed the obsolete ones to ensure an efficient security system and to ensure that every passenger who passed through any of the airports is captured both on domestic and international travel.
“We just installed brand new scanning machines at the Lagos airport last week. We installed about 15 at the Lagos airport alone and more will still be installed. We have installed the walk-ins security equipment.
These include L3 scanning machines. I think five is the number of the walk-throughs and an additional 10 are the scanning machines. We don’t talk too much because we don’t want to be distracted as an industry,” he said.
He said that the reason for the security week was to alert and reinforce the security protocol and bring experts to deliberate issues on security and review what has been done, what is being done and how to improve through ingenuity, innovation and technology.
“Security Week is an Airport Council International (ACI) initiative. I want to use this opportunity to further sensitise and create more understanding and awareness. AVSEC security system is something you hardly see or notice until something goes wrong and the working continues every day for seven days. If there is good security, you hardly notice it. If things are going on smoothly you won’t know that some people are doing something behind the scenes. We cannot have aviation without proper security. Security allows us to have an aviation industry. Without security, no one will fly in this industry. That is why from the beginning, we have the Chicago Conference of 1944. People sat down and created the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to regulate and coordinate the civil aviation industry. That regulation and coordination is all in the interest of safety and security.”
He said during the security week there are issues, which each airport would be looking at.
“We have topics on insider threat, training, currency, vulnerabilities, social challenges, social security. No town operates like an island. The topics are diverse and there may be more specific topics from others. We have given them some guidelines and we are not too rigid. We have a lot of people who have access to the airport. Naturally, security is not a static process, but a living process. We may have a security today that is 100 per cent and in the next one hour, you will have a report that there is a new danger, breach or a new possibility. So, security is like a race, but what we do is to be far ahead in the race.
“What we do is apart from our increased surveillance, training and equipment, we do a lot of sensitisation because even people working within the airport environment need to be more sensitised. We get reports and our personnel have increased their surveillance. We have annual security meetings, Nigeria has weekly airport security meetings and if there is anything on ground that is massive, they know how to handle it,” Yadudu said.
He also disclosed that there are effective plans to renew the certification at the Lagos and Abuja airports and also certify other international airports in Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu.
“We are at the verge of recertifying Lagos and Abuja and we are equally committed to certify Enugu, Port Harcourt and Kano airports, but there are various technical requirements and conditions involved that it is only when you are involved that you will fully appreciate the enormity of the work. But, the fact that we did Lagos and Abuja we will surely do the others. It is a commitment.
“The issue that slowed us down is the COVID-19 pandemic; suddenly, the whole world was grounded to a halt, not just FAAN or NCAA (the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority). That unfortunately affected our revenues; it was down to about two to three per cent revenue at a time and we tried to survive it,” he added.
On the automation of the check-in process and installation of Airport Common Use Equipment (CUTE), which was conducted manually since SITA left with its own system, the FAAM Managing Director said that the new company, RESA has replaced SITA with its modern equipment and airlines have keyed into the new system, especially in Lagos and Abuja airports
“All the airlines have keyed into the new system. The current agreement we have with RESA is all-inclusive and it also involves security functions. If there is a need to raise the flag on any passenger, we can always do this. We are fully back and improved on whatever we had in the past. We are fully reloaded now. What we have now is 10 years commitment and it is renewable. All the five international airports are fully in this. We have two fully installed and the other three are being installed,” he said.