FAAN’s Bizarre N2.5bn Flights, Hotel Accommodation Cost

Chinedu Eze

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) spent additional N2.5 billion on personnel allowances, hotel accommodation and flight tickets annually since the agency was forced to relocate its headquarters from Lagos to Abuja by the former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika in 2020, THISDAY investigation has revealed.

Officials of FAAN told THISDAY that the expenditures eroded the agency’s revenue, coupled with the compulsory 50 per cent deduction by the federal government from FAAN, a development, they said, deprived FAAN of the needed funds to carry out targeted projects like the resurfacing of runways, the rehabilitation of terminals, installation of airfield lighting at some airports, including its inability to conduct some essential training for its personnel. They said FAAN had to delay the completion of on-going projects due to paucity of funds.

A former Head of Commercials in FAAN, Mr. Ade Kolawole, told THISDAY that the former Minister should not have moved FAAN headquarters to Abuja because there was nothing on ground in terms of structure to accommodate the relocation of personnel, noting that besides the airport offices, FAAN did not have any facility to even accommodate its directors and general managers.

“So, it was the Managing Director that moved to Abuja and because most of the activities of FAAN were domiciled in Lagos, he has to return to Lagos any other day. While the Managing Director was in Abuja, all other members of staff were in Lagos. So, senior officials like directors and general managers have to incur flight expenses, hotel accommodation and allowances going to see the Managing Director in Abuja.

“These personnel accrued per diem, which is daily allowance, which an employer pays to employee to cover living expenses when travelling on the employer’s business. This encouraged the directors to be travelling to Abuja regularly. So, that relocation made people to make so much money from FAAN. FAAN has nothing in Abuja except rented places; unfortunately, those who moved to Abuja moved nothing because all other activities are still going on in Lagos, where FAAN generates 70 per cent of its revenue, which it used to service other airports in the country. Besides the movement of the Managing Director, FAAN’s headquarters has technically remained in Lagos,” Mr. Kolawole said.

A former Deputy General Manager, Accounts at FAAN, Mr. Philip Emeto, also told THISDAY that the relocation of FAAN headquarters to Abuja was simply decided on sentiments because Lagos is the hub of airlines operations both domestic and international carriers, noting that Abuja is political headquarters of Nigeria and not its commercial centre.

“FAAN has no land or quarters in Abuja to accommodate the staff; in fact, there is no structure. As far as FAAN is concerned; that decision to relocate headquarters to Abuja was a wrong decision but nobody was courageous to speak against it. To me, that decision did not make any sense and it gave rise to colossal loss of funds to FAAN. That relocation was costing FAAN a lot of money. So much money was paid for hotel accommodation; how can FAAN break even? The best thing that has happened to FAAN is the decision of President Tinubu to return the headquarters back to Lagos. Government should not mix commercial activities with politics. Ministers can stay in Abuja; they are not professionals; they are political appointees. Relocating FAAN to Abuja has nothing to do with the generation of revenue, as Lagos is the base of FAAN source of revenue.

“I do not know why government likes to waste resources. How can you be removed from a place where you have economic advantage to another place where you have no structure at all to accommodate personnel as offices, no living quarters and what happens to the offices you will leave behind in Lagos. You will have empty offices in Lagos and no offices in Abuja; unless you rent them. It does not make any sense to me. It is only government that can encourage such wastefulness,” Emeto said.

 FAAN had earlier made it clear that the reason why the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, decided that FAAN should relocate its headquarters to Lagos was to save the huge expenses the agency incurs operating in an environment where it has no office accommodation for its personnel.

FAAN had explained that the members of staff who had earlier moved to Abuja affected by the decision, had returned to Lagos, as there is no office space for them in Abuja. It was ill-advised in the first place to move the headquarters to Abuja when there was no single FAAN building in Abuja to accommodate all of them at once. 

“Having returned to Lagos, the authority will be liable to pay them duty tour allowance because technically they are working ‘out of station, as their official posting is to Abuja, and the Minister has decided to stop this waste of public resources and rip-off on the public purse,” Emeto further said.

According to FAAN, “The other option open to the Authority was abandon the old FAAN building in Lagos to rot away and to use its scarce resources to rent an office space in Abuja for Millions of Naira of public money when in actual fact more than sixty percent of its activities are in Lagos, given the huge passenger volume of the Lagos airports. The stakeholders and the Minister decided against that and to save the country this waste.”

As the Federal Capital Territory, FAAN said that it would relocate to Abuja when it has put the necessary structures in place in order to mitigate the current expenses it incurs due to the absence of these facilities.

“The Minister has rolled out plans to get concessionaires to build befitting offices for the Authority in Lagos and Abuja, and until that is done, the Authority will continue to manage its old building in Lagos that can accommodate all its directors and senior officials for now. Abuja continues to have full operational offices and the authority has not scaled down operations in Abuja one bit. It is just the technical decision of where the authority has its ‘corporate headquarters’ that has been taken without affecting the structure of operations as they are for now in both cities. ⁠In the near future, when befitting corporate buildings will be built for the authority in both Lagos and Abuja, a final decision will be taken as to the location of the permanent headquarters, depending on the exigencies of the time,” the agency said in a statement. .

Related Articles