of ACI. That has also helped us to cer­tify our air­ports be­cause I have told our col­leagues and other peo­ple that any time we go for ACI meet­ing, we sit down and look at the progress of all African air­ports. And they say okay Egypt, for ex­am­ple, has cer­ti­fied one air­port, Mo­rocco has cer­ti­fied one air­port. Me as the pres­i­dent of ACI com­ing from Nige­ria we have not cer­ti­fied any air­port. So that has en­cour­aged me and Nige­ri­ans to put in more ef­fort to make sure that we cer­tify two air­ports at the same time. And we are work­ing on an­other two and an­other two. So we will con­tinue with that un­til we cer­tify our own air­port. That en­cour­age­ment came be­cause I was the pres­i­dent of ACI and it is a shame that our air­ports were not cer­ti­fied. And you know that Nige­rian is the pres­i­dent of ICAO, you know the sec­re­tary gen­eral of AFCAC (African Civil Avi­a­tion Com­mis­sion) at that time is Nige­rian. So how can we be head­ing all the in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions and we can­not achieve any­thing like cer­ti­fi­ca­tion? So that pushed us also to do the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Not only that, you can see that our train­ing cen­tre in La­gos has been ac­cred­ited as avi­a­tion se­cu­rity, re­gional train­ing cen­tre par ex­cel­lence. That also helped us to pur­sue that pro­gramme and to make sure that we got to that level. That is done now, so we can now train peo­ple, have avi­a­tion se­cu­rity per­son­nel in this re­gion; that is the West African re­gion. So you see that is an­other achieve­ment. Not only that, we also par­tic­i­pated in all the pro­grammes like Air­port Ex­cel­lence on safety, air­port ex­cel­lence on se­cu­rity, we are now par­tic­i­pat­ing in car­bon ac­cred­i­ta­tion, we are also par­tic­i­pat­ing in air­port ex­cel­lence fa­cil­i­ta­tion, air­port ser­vice qual­ity pro­gramme. So all these pro­grammes are pro­vided by ACI to as­sist African air­ports im­prove their level im­prove the qual­ity of ser­vice they de­liver and im­prove their fa­cil­i­ta­tion, safety and se­cu­rity, be­cause these are the ma­jor things in air­port op­er­a­tion. So with those as­sess­ments on the air­ports they come and tell you what you are, what you are sup­posed to be and you have to get there and they give you time line. So par­tic­i­pa­tion in this pro­gramme has im­proved the lots of our air­ports in the coun­try. So there are a lot of ben­e­fits of be­ing the pres­i­dent of ACI. It is not only that; it opens my eyes as the pres­i­dent of ACI to all the is­sues that are hap­pen­ing in the in­dus­try in Africa. So we now sit to­gether as col­leagues from other African coun­tries and come up with a so­lu­tion that is work­able to all of us. And we ap­proach the gov­ern­ments, like in this re­gion we have ap­proached ECOWAS and in other re­gions they ap­proached the rel­e­vant bod­ies. So by the time our heads of gov­ern­ment and heads of states meet and we present some cases to them that are com­mon to the in­dus­try and then it is con­sid­ered and a global de­ci­sion is taken.

It also al­lows us to li­aise with ICAO and ACI World to make sure that we are not left be­hind in any other devel­op­ment in the in­dus­try. So they look at all the pro­grammes and is­sues that are at hand and say okay Africa what is your stake? How do you want to han­dle this? We will come back with the so­lu­tion to them and say this is our sit­u­a­tion, we need this and this. Even the train­ing pro­gramme and other de­vel­op­men­tal pro­grammes will be tai­lored to­wards the re­gion and to­wards Africa. We will have to present our case and say that this is the best so­lu­tion that we feel we need to im­ple­ment in Africa. And they will look at it and ad­vise us and ask, what are the short falls that we have? Where can we get as­sis­tance? If it is some­thing that we can get as­sis­tance within Africa, we will go to ACI Africa and make sure that we ex­tend hand of as­sis­tance to all other air­ports so that we can all de­velop and bring them up to a cer­tain level that we feel they need to get to.

If it is some­thing that Africa can­not pro­vide, we will go to ACI Amer­ica or ACI Europe and they give us ei­ther re­sources or re­source per­sons so that they can come and help us and do cer­tain train­ings. So many pro­grammes are de­vel­oped by that as­so­ci­a­tion and then we re­late with rel­e­vant bod­ies all over the world to make sure we get that as­sis­tance.

FAAN work­ers do want to hear about con­ces­sion but many peo­ple be­lieve that it is the so­lu­tion for the air­ports to work ef­fi­ciently and be mod­ernised. The Min­is­ter of State, Avi­a­tion, Se­na­tor Hadi Sirika said he is go­ing to con­ces­sion the air­ports, but till now noth­ing has hap­pened. What do you think was the prob­lem and do you think it will be re­alised in a short time?

As far as FAAN is con­cerned I do think there is any or­gan­i­sa­tion in this coun­try apart from ports that has a lot of con­ces­sion like FAAN. If you go to any air­port, if you look at the ter­mi­nal build­ing all the shops within the ter­mi­nal build­ing are run by pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als, there is no shop be­long­ing to FAAN in there. So that is a level of con­ces­sion. If you look also at other fa­cil­ity pro­vided around the air­port, they are all done by other par­ties not FAAN. But FAAN man­ages the air­port, so con­ces­sion to FAAN is not new. But we want to take it to an­other level. That is what the min­is­ter wanted to do. You see, a lot of peo­ple mis­un­der­stood the word con­ces­sion be­cause the word con­ces­sion and pri­vati­sa­tion is be­ing mixed. So the fear of ev­ery­body in­clud­ing the unions is that when you say con­ces­sion you are pri­vatis­ing. You are not pri­vatis­ing at all. Pri­vati­sa­tion means tak­ing the as­set from be­ing gov­ern­ment owned and put it over the fence and give it to the pri­vate sec­tor and sell it. But con­ces­sion is not like that, con­ces­sion is say­ing that look I have this fa­cil­ity that I am run­ning, I am not a spe­cial­ist in all the ar­eas, why don’t we get a spe­cial­ist, let the spe­cial­ist come, part­ner with us so that we can gain from his tech­ni­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, we can gain from his fi­nan­cial dis­po­si­tion, so that we can im­prove on this in­fra­struc­ture in order to pro­vide for the ser­vice that we re­quire and then we share the ben­e­fits.

But the as­set still be­longs to the gov­ern­ment. So this is the kind of con­ces­sion that the Min­is­ter wants to em­bark upon. Of course it re­quires a lot of plan­ning, un­der­stand­ing and of course Nige­ria as a gov­ern­ment en­cour­ages that. That is why the In­fra­struc­ture Con­ces­sion Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (ICRC) has been setup to do. They pro­vide con­ces­sion reg­u­la­tion, they pro­vide the at­mo­sphere, they do the reg­u­la­tion and make sure that what­ever is done is agree­able to all the laws that are pro­vided in ICRC. It is a long process; it is not some­thing that you jump into just like that. You have to have a pro­gramme, go through the pro­cesses in order to avoid any mis­take and even­tual le­gal is­sues. We are do­ing a lot of plan­ning and the ad­van­tage of that is that you will get ac­cess to funds. You will re­call that our econ­omy was de­pen­dent on oil, now oil rev­enues are go­ing down, there are so many is­sues that the gov­ern­ment wants to deal with.

There are so many is­sues that we can­not com­pete with. For ex­am­ple, avi­a­tion can­not com­pete with se­cu­rity of the na­tion; avi­a­tion can­not com­pete with health and ed­u­ca­tion. Avi­a­tion also gen­er­ates some rev­enue, since we can gen­er­ate rev­enue why don’t we part­ner with peo­ple that are ready to in­vest, peo­ple that know the in­dus­try, peo­ple that have done it some­where else and they are suc­cess­ful. Why don’t we look at those mod­ules and look at the Nige­rian laws and com­ply with the Nige­rian laws and do this con­ces­sion so that in­vestors can come in and in­vest and we share the pro­ceeds at the end of the day. And the fear of the union was that it is pri­vati­sa­tion and once you pri­va­tise, of course, the ten­dency is that the pri­vate en­tity will re­duce this and that in order to make more profit. But this is not the case here, what is con­ces­sion to de­velop our in­fra­struc­ture, in­crease our ca­pac­ity and then we have more peo­ple.

Look at the Chi­nese ter­mi­nal, this is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple. The Chi­nese ter­mi­nal was funded by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the Chi­naExim Bank loan. So now we have com­mis­sioned two as I speak to you. I need more staff to run those ter­mi­nals.

We are look­ing for more peo­ple, so it has cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity for us to em­ploy. So the unions are very happy be­cause right now I am short of staff to run those ter­mi­nals. We are not clos­ing down the whole ter­mi­nals, we are run­ning them. So we are look­ing for more peo­ple to em­ploy be­cause of the ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity we have cre­ated in terms of in­fra­struc­ture. So the unions fear is not real, it is imag­i­nary. So now that they have seen that; I don’t think the unions are afraid of con­ces­sion.

The con­ces­sion is sim­i­lar to this loan, in fact con­ces­sion is bet­ter. The rea­son why I said con­ces­sion is bet­ter is that you can go to any bank and take a loan. If you mis­man­age the loan the bank will come af­ter you to take their money, just like it is hap­pen­ing to some of our air­lines. But in con­ces­sion, the in­vestor is your part­ner, he has a stake, he wouldn’t want to run it down. The part­ner would make sure that it is a suc­cess and we are not just pick­ing any­body. We are pick­ing peo­ple that have ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try, peo­ple that know how to man­age, peo­ple that know how to run the sys­tem, that have ex­pe­ri­ence, so that at the end of the day they will bring their ex­pe­ri­ence, man­age­rial ca­pa­bil­i­ties and they will pro­vide their funds so that we im­prove on the in­fra­struc­ture and we run it to­gether and we share the pro­ceeds. And that would also cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for the unions. So con­ces­sion is bet­ter than loan.

I heard that you just in­spected new gen­er­a­tors at the Abuja air­port. What is their de­ploy­ment like and how do we solve the fre­quent out­age at La­gos air­port?

Of re­cent we have never had out­ages at the La­gos air­port. There is suf­fi­cient power sup­ply in La­gos and Abuja and what we are try­ing to do is to im­prove the sys­tem so that we don’t get to a sit­u­a­tion whereby equip­ment will fail. The power out­ages that we had in La­gos was as a re­sult of fail­ure of cer­tain equip­ment like the trans­former and so on. But we are re­plac­ing most of them; that is why we have all these power projects all over the place. What is hap­pen­ing in Abuja is that with the com­mis­sion of the new ter­mi­nal build­ing, we had a plan to im­prove the power sup­ply so that it will now ac­com­mo­date the new in­fra­struc­ture that we are putting to­gether and to have ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity also.

The rail sta­tion that is there prob­a­bly will re­quire power from us, so we have to have ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity for the im­me­di­ate growth. Be­cause as a re­sult of the new ter­mi­nal be­ing com­mis­sioned other peo­ple might want to come in to the air­port to want to do busi­ness. These peo­ple will re­quire power to run their busi­nesses. So we have de­signed power sup­ply sys­tem that will take care of the new ter­mi­nal and ad­di­tional re­quest that may come from other peo­ple that want to do busi­ness around the air­port. So this is the power fa­cil­ity that we are try­ing to com­mis­sion now, the con­struc­tion is go­ing on and at the end of the day we will have suf­fi­cient power. Mind you this is standby power sup­ply be­cause we are still de­pen­dent on the na­tional grid.

So this one is standby just in case the pub­lic one fails, we can re­vert back to our se­cond sys­tems. So it is our own sys­tems that we are up­grad­ing, but we are also work­ing with sup­pli­ers of power in Abuja, La­gos and Gen­cos to make sure that they up­grade their sup­ply to the air­port to guar­an­tee us a level of per­for­mance. We have done that in La­gos, we are try­ing to do that in Abuja and Abuja has im­proved. Ac­tu­ally the power sup­ply to the air­port has im­proved tremen­dously es­pe­cially re­li­a­bil­ity. So I want to seize this op­por­tu­nity to thank all Power Hold­ing Com­pa­nies in La­gos and Abuja in fact in all the air­ports. If there is any out­age which is un­avoid­able it is as a re­sult of equip­ment fail­ure. Of course you can­not rule out com­pletely 100 per cent that these things won’t hap­pen but we have sys­tems in place to check that and we are im­prov­ing on those sys­tems.

Re­cently there were some com­plaints of FAAN not hav­ing ad­e­quate avi­a­tion se­cu­rity per­son­nel. The re­port said some avi­a­tion se­cu­rity per­son­nel over­stretch their work time and suf­fer from stress and other in­con­ve­niences which are not good for air­port se­cu­rity sys­tem. What is the so­lu­tion to this prob­lem?

We have put in a so­lu­tion in place. This short­age in man­power, es­pe­cially in avi­a­tion se­cu­rity and fire is as a re­sult of gov­ern­ment ban­ning em­ploy­ment some time back. Em­ploy­ment is sup­posed to be a con­tin­u­ous thing but un­for­tu­nately there was a time gov­ern­ment banned em­ploy­ment into gov­ern­ment ser­vice, whether you are paras­tatal or min­istry. That cre­ated a gen­er­a­tion gap in our sys­tem. And you know for pro­fes­sion­als like avi­a­tion se­cu­rity op­er­a­tors and fire­fight­ing per­son­nel and safety per­son­nel, these are pro­fes­sion­als in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try that you can­not pick them from the streets. There is nowhere you can go and get a BSC in fire­fight­ing, there is nowhere you can go and come out with a BSC in avi­a­tion se­cu­rity. What we do is, we pick peo­ple from dif­fer­ent school cur­ricu­lum and bring the peo­ple that are in­ter­ested to be trained.

The min­i­mum train­ing that ICAO pre­scribed for you to be a fire­man or a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer in the in­dus­try is three months. And that train­ing is the ba­sic train­ing and from there on you con­tinue to get more and more train­ing so that you can get to the pro­fes­sional level. This is be­cause even in the se­cu­rity if you get the train­ing of three months it is ba­sic. Then if you be­come a screener or if you get a cer­tifi­cate as a screener or sur­veil­lance of­fi­cer it takes an­other time. So that is the is­sue that we have, even if we em­ploy you now you have to un­dergo the train­ing. Once you qual­ify, you have to learn the en­vi­ron­ment apart from get­ting the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion; you have to go through the en­vi­ron­men­tal train­ing, which means you have to go on the job train­ing. You have to work un­der some­body for an­other six months or so. So for one year you will be trained and that is the ba­sic train­ing. So once you get the ba­sic train­ing then we look at you and say okay this per­son is good at this and we start train­ing and de­velop you to be­come an­other spe­cialised pro­fes­sional in one of the units or the other de­pend­ing on your ca­pa­bil­i­ties and our ob­ser­va­tions.

So it is very dif­fi­cult to train but we are now work­ing on it, we have em­ployed like 700 peo­ple at the in­stance. We will soon start train­ing at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions all over the coun­try so that as soon as they ac­quire the ba­sic skills we will bring them to the air­port for on the job train­ing. And then later on by the time they get pro­fes­sional, NCAA will have to give them a cer­tifi­cate be­fore they now be­come avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. So you see it is a long process, it is like tak­ing you and say you start your ed­u­ca­tion all over again. So it is a long process, we are go­ing through that and very soon we will ad­dress that gap. I want to note also that ev­ery­thing we do is in com­pli­ance with the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion. We com­ply with ICAO reg­u­la­tion.


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