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    Friday, December 29, 2023

    Stakeholders Raise Concern Over Bloated Appointments in Aviation Sector

    Although many industry stakeholders are upbeat about the future of the aviation industry under the watch of Festus Keyamo, as the Minister of Aviation and Airspace Development, others have complained about the bloated appointment of directors in the aviation industry.

    Last week the minister announced the appointment of 48 Directors in the five aviation agencies: the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Safety Investigation Board (NSIB).

    The stakeholders argued that with the current economic situation, where government ought to be conserving funds, the minister was busy with the bloated appointment of directors.

    The General Secretary of the industry think-tank, Aviation Round Table (ART), Olu Fidel Ohunayo, said the changes made were expected because when a new administration takes over the saddle, it immediately follows the existing tradition to appoint the people that would work with the administration.

    He however frowned at the appointment of a large number of directors by the minister, which he insisted, ought to be trimmed down.

    According to Ohunayo, “The changes are expected. Looking at the trajectory of almost all the past ministers, we see that they always just clear the table completely and bring in their own person, irrespective of the party in place. It’s that kind of rat race. There is a blend between the technocrat and bringing in fresh blood into the agency.

    “But for the directors, I have serious issues there. We were complaining about the high number of directors that was imposed on us by the immediate past minister, which we saw that rather than do a staff audit that he promised, in order to reduce the number as promised , he even expanded the directorate. But unfortunately the new minister, without even listening to the yearnings of the people, further expanded the directorate.  And you expect these agencies to survive with this expansion of directorate that requires more personnel, and more payment of salaries?”

    Ohunayo who expressed his displeasure over the appointment of too many directors, said having that huge number brought into the industry and agencies would be a huge financial burden.

    “Sincerely, I thought the minister was going to look at the issues and maybe return the directorate to the pre-Sirika era. But what have we seen now? It has even gone beyond that. We have seen the appointment of director of special duties, and the next step will probably be the appointment of general manager, special duties; deputy general manager, special duties; assistant general manager, special duties, and all the way down.

    “Unfortunately, I think the decision was horrible. There are too many directors here this time around. I thought they were going to work on how they were going to reduce the weight at the top. Unfortunately, it has been expanded upon. I am not too happy with that large contingent of directors. And looking at them, Just like Sirika did, they have not followed the civil service procedure; looking at the qualification and level of service. They just appointed people close to them and put them in places. And I just hope this will not backfire. We are looking for a new lease of life in the industry. But then, not the one that is now being mixed with politics,” Ohunayo said.

    He further said that despite the appointment of directors he was hopeful that the administration would do well.

    “We are here, and all we can do is to continue to ensure that we tell the government to do the right thing. And I think for the appointment of the directors, expanding the directorate, that was not right. That’s going to put more pressure on the finances of the agencies and that need to be looked at. Again, while we are appointing directors, we want to see the board of directors, for the each of the agencies, there is need to curb interference from the executive and also to curb the union between the executive and the Ministry and the agency heads. We need the board for each of the agency. It is in their act. That is what we want to see. Let us see the board. I didn’t mind if you put this up on the board. But now, expanding the directorate you are going to  kill the agency and their finances,” Ohunayo added.

    Chairman of West Link Airline, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, spoke about professionalism in the industry and said politics has eroded professionalism in the way aviation is run in Nigeria.

    Mshelia said once politics is separated from civil aviation the number of staff would be trimmed and geared towards who delivers technical results and who propel the industry.

    “Once we are able to separate these two, then you find that even the internally generated revenue will be sufficient to take care of these people very well at that. It will also help in reducing corruption in the system, and staff will not allow themselves to be induced by management staff. They will look them in the eye and say, this is wrong, that is wrong, stop this, stop that. The heads of the agencies should have access to their money directly when it’s needed. No bureaucracy. Remove all these civil service things from aviation,” he said. - ThisDay

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