Tension reigned across the country’s aviation sector on Friday when the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika directed all aviation agencies to move their headquarters from Lagos to Abuja within the next 45 days.
The move according to the Minister will allow efficient and effective coordination and enhanced service delivery, as well as reduce the cost of governance.
The idea of relocating the agencies to Abuja was first mooted during the administration of Mr Felix Hyatt as the minister of aviation, an idea which was resisted by the aviation unions then.
The unions and the key players who kicked against the move had premised their position on the fact that Lagos was the centre of aviation activities.
The latest development emanated from a letter dated 4th May 2020 FMA/PMD/7061/T/4, signed by the Director, Human Resource Management, Alhaji Mohammad Shehu on behalf of the Minister of Aviation explaining that the relocation order was based on the premise of the current global economic situation and reducing cost of governance.
The letter captioned, Relocation of Aviation Agencies to Abuja read: “I am directed to remind you of a Presidential directive issued in 2012 requesting all the agencies under the Ministry of Aviation to relocate their corporate headquarters to the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) for efficient and effective coordination and enhanced service delivery and note that eight (8) years after the directive, the agencies are yet to comply.
“Accordingly, considering the current situation and the economic impact worldwide as well as the need to reduce the cost of governance and manage scarce resources in a sustainable way, it has become imperative and further to the honourable Minister’s directive (Copy attached) to request that you facilitate and complete the relocation of your corporate headquarters within the next forty-five (45) days in line with this earlier directive.”
The agencies whose corporate headquarters are affected by the order are Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
Key players are opposing the latest directive on the excuse that there was no need for the relocation this time in view of the economic hardship the COVID-19 pandemic has already inflicted on the agencies.
According to the key players, the relocation order will bring another economic hardship on the agencies as such movement involves payment for new offices, relocation of key officials and accommodation needs.
The aviation unions are already putting their heads together to enable them to tackle the ministry of aviation on the relocation order among other developments they said have reared their heads at this critical time.