FeaturesFEATURES: Counting Gains Of FAAN’s Relocation To Lagos

FEATURES: Counting Gains Of FAAN’s Relocation To Lagos


February 23, (THEWILL) – In this piece, ANTHONY AWUNOR writes that there are many gains in the recent step taken by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, to return the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), to Lagos.

Since 2008, when the very first attempt to relocate the aviation agencies out of Lagos to Abuja, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has been operating optimally in Lagos more than recorded in any other state. This is because of the the business environment of Lagos state and more importantly, the air traffic that flows in and out of the state daily.

Lagos airport, which is the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), for example, has been named the continent’s third busiest airport in 2021, by the Airport Council International, ACI.


The airport completed a total of 5.69 million flights in 2021, according to the ACI report, making it the third busiest airport in the continent.

Within the same period, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, emerged as the continent’s fourth busiest airport with 541 million passenger traffic, only 289,222 lower than the Lagos-based airport.

So the order by the past government to move FAAN’s headquarters to Abuja generated a lot of diverse opinions from most Nigerians. While some gave kudos to the present administration for taking such a bold step in returning the agency’s headquarters to Lagos, others have different views.

However, most stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation industry say that the decision to return the FAAN to Lagos was a step in the right direction.

At the centre of the innovation, is the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo, who finally ordered the return of the agency to Lagos, shortly after he assumed office.

Even as popular as the decision is to the large populace, a cross-section of the commentators have attempted to bring in ethnic and political colourations into the directive by the Minister.

However, most industry stakeholders, who understood the necessity of having FAAN and other aviation agencies in Lagos, which is the hub of aviation activities in Nigeria, commended the directive of the government.

The stakeholders maintained that the relocation of the agencies to Abuja almost four years ago was one of the many wrong decisions and poor planning, executed by Sen. Hadi Sirika, the former Minister of Aviation.

Industry unions alleged that the former minister and his cronies attempted to demolish the FAAN headquarters in Lagos and share its properties among themselves, but this was thwarted.

Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, the Managing Director, FAAN, in an internal memo dated January 15, 2024, had sought from the Director of the Human Resource & Administration, the implication of returning the headquarters to Lagos.

The internal memo with the head: ‘Re: Relocation of FAAN Headquarters from Abuja to Lagos,’ said that the minister gave the directive.

The memo read in part: “The Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development has directed that the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) should be relocated from Abuja to Lagos.

“Consequent upon the above, you are requested to provide the implication of the relocation to the management.”

Just recently, Keyamo disclosed that in 2023 alone, FAAN spent about N1 billion on Duty Tour Allowances (DTAs) and shuttling between Lagos and Abuja alone.

He maintained that such an amount of money could have been saved and spent on other projects in the agency, insisting that the relocation of the agency back to Lagos was not politically motivated.

He said: “In fact, I had to do the figures, which I told the management of FAAN to give to us, that in tickets alone, we paid about more than N450 million because of lack of coordination, lack of being in one decision-making place. And in Basic Traveling Allowances (BTAs) alone, we paid about N493 million in 2023 alone, making nearly N1 billion that we paid, just because all the decision-makers cannot be in one place.

“They don’t have to be shuttling back and forth carrying files to and from Abuja. They don’t have to do that. I only need to see the Managing Director here when I need her. The Managing Director will only come to Abuja on the invitation of the minister to brief him on the issues going on.”

Speaking on the issue, Comrade Frances Akinjole, the General Secretary, Air Transport Staff Senior Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), said that the relocation of the agencies back to Lagos was a step in the right direction by Keyamo.

Akinjole lamented that the agency’s staff, just like the others, were forcefully relocated without adequate provision by the management of FAAN and the ministry.

He emphasised that despite the relocation, FAAN and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), were residing in rented apartments, while the office spaces in Abuja were derisory.

He insisted that the return of the agency to Lagos was without political undertone as claimed in some quarters, stressing that it was a decision that would promote efficiency and productivity of staff and management.

He said: “If you will recollect, we (unions), vehemently kicked against this in times past, considering the fact that they were just sending people to Abuja without making adequate preparation for them to stay there and this is not limited to FAAN alone, but to every other agency that their staff were relocated in the sector.

“The case of FAAN is worse, followed by NAMA and even the former Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), now Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB). You will recollect how the AIB headquarters was hurriedly demolished and many of their staff were made to stay back in Lagos without any job function. The argument then was that they were working from home. What work were they doing from home?

“Our members got stranded in Abuja and definitely, it impeded the functions of FAAN. Also, we all know that Lagos is the hub of the aviation industry in this country. We said then that even if they were to be moved to Abuja, Lagos should remain a regional centre.

“I want to believe that the main reason FAAN was moved was because some people in the government wanted to demolish those quarters and offices and make them residential. They wanted to share the property of FAAN, but I am happy that sense prevailed on them. I want to say here that ATSSSAN is in support of the relocation of the agency back to Lagos.”

He, however, reiterated that the unions were not against the relocation of the agencies to any part of the country, but maintained that adequate office preparation must be provided for staff by the management before such an exercise is executed.

Dr Alex Nwuba, the President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria (AOPAN), said the decision to return FAAN headquarters to Lagos was a bold step.

Nwuba wondered if the headquarters of FAAN was ever moved away from Lagos as almost every activity of the agency still emanated from Lagos.

“It is a good move by the minister. The agencies should return their headquarters to Lagos. Aviation activities happen in Lagos. The agencies’ headquarters should remain in Lagos,” he said.

The AOPAN President explained that despite the relocation, the offices of the Managing Director and directors of FAAN were still in Lagos.

Capt. Mohammed Badamasi, an industry professional, said that the movement of the agencies out of Lagos was not well thought out by the former minister.

According to him, in the United States, for instance, most of the agencies’ headquarters are not in the seat of power, but remain where they were founded.

He explained that the port authority in the US was still in New York, maintaining that there was no need for the government to relocate the headquarters.

He said: “The centre of aviation in Nigeria is in Lagos. If the minister wants to meet with the agency’s heads, it is easier for him to come to Lagos, hold meetings with them and return to Abuja. The relocation order by Keyamo is a step in the right direction. Even, despite the relocation of FAAN to Abuja, many still consider FAAN here in Lagos at the headquarters.”

Badamasi declared that anyone or groups attributing ethnic colouration to the directive was insincere and lacked depth analysis.

Besides, Comrade Olayinka Abioye, the immediate past General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport of Employees (NU­ATE), declared that the decision to move the agencies out of Lagos by the former minister was politically motivated, rather than administration.

Abioye further castigated the excuse of “enhanced efficiency and service delivery between the ministry and the agencies” given by Sirika for moving the agencies to Abuja as flimsy.

“This came from the minister despite the array of technologies in the world that have been adopted by every agency”, he said.

He regretted that while the policy lasted, it caused undue distraction and interference in the running of the agencies by the ministry.

Dr Gabriel Olowo, the immediate past President, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), pointed out that the initial order lacked economic sense.

Olowo regretted that the policy led to increased political interference in the running of the agencies.

However, Grp. Capt. John Ojikutu (retd) queried the cost implication of returning the agencies to Lagos and the reasons for the directive.

Ojikutu maintained that the government needed to tell the public the reason for moving the agencies out of Lagos and vice versa.

He emphasised that the consistent movement of the agencies from either Lagos to any other city prevented the managers from working to their full capacity.

Ojikutu expressed that only Lagos and Abuja airports were the most profitable aerodromes in the country with the highest economic activities.

Ojikutu queried the cost of moving the agencies to Abuja from Lagos in 2020 and the cost of returning them in 2024.

“When did Sirika move them to Abuja? And what were the reasons for moving them in the first place? What are the reasons for wanting to return them to Lagos now? Let them tell us the economic reasons for wanting to move the headquarters out of Abuja to Lagos again”, he said.

The Secretary-General of the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Saidu Abdulrasaq, has similar views, stating that what Keyamo did in terms of returning FAAN to Lagos is the correct thing and appreciated by the industry.

Comrade Abdulrasaq told THEWILL that even the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and even Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), should follow suit since Lagos is where the market is.

According to him, the initial relocation to Abuja was because of the selfishness and greediness of the past administration.

About the Author

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Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.

Anthony Awunor, THEWILLhttps://thewillnews.com
Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.

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