Exercising presidential authority, acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, signed three executive orders on May 18, 2017. The three executive orders are the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment which is meant to facilitate ease of doing business in Nigeria; support for local content in public procurement by the government and timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies.
Airport businesses fall majorly on the aspect of promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment. To this end, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), as the lead agency managing more than 22 airports in the country knows this and since the presidential pronouncement, there has been massive transformation at airports, particularly, the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) Kano amongst others.
Although FAAN has always ensured passengers have seamless travel experience at the aforementioned facilities, the executive order seems to have extended FAAN’s firmer commitment to all the airports in the country.
Murtala Mohammed International Airport
The international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos has been fully transformed to the admiration of both local and international travelers. The airport is fast becoming the pride of many a traveler who is either going out or coming into the country. Since the security agencies at the checking points have been streamlined, both arriving and departing air passengers experience stress free movement while all the scanners, conveyor belts work optimally. The security agencies at the few screening points remaining, being aware of the need for ease of doing business are always alert to facilitate free and safe movement of passengers at all times. While the toilets at E Wing and other areas have been refurbished, check-in halls at the airport are now livelier with flight information display board positioned. Airport security and other logistics have also been upgraded and strengthened to provide for seamless services for both local and international travelers. New directional display units have been provided to guide travellers, especially new ones, at the airport. Airport dos and don’ts banners have also been displayed at strategic locations to educate newcomers. The leaking Roof of ‘D Wing’ has since been fixed while continuous upgrade of facilities are still ongoing. All these facilities at the airport are complimented with a multi-storey car park building located closely to the airport terminal for ease of access.
Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport
At NAIA, Abuja, FAAN seems to have replicated the giant strides achieved in Lagos. With minimal time needed to move from terminal main entrance to departure terminal, passengers’ movement has been made easier. In the past few months, NAIA has had a new look with all the facilities functioning at optimal level. Entering the departure hall of the airport, one is greeted with Flight Information Display Board which is conspicuously positioned for all passengers to see from any angle. The agency has also furnished and renovated the ‘D’ Wing of the airport to international standard while all the toilet facilities in other areas are now working efficiently.
To ease coming in and going out, the agency recently made a slight change in its domestic operations while it also alerted all air passengers, airport users, stakeholders and the general public of the new development. Apart from flight information board, there are also directional signage to properly guide all passengers on where to check in, board or purchase flight tickets.
According to FAAN management, Arik Air now operates at Terminal B, along with Azman, First Nation, Overland Med-View Airline while Aero Contractors, Air Peace and Dana Air operate at Terminal D of the airport.
Apart from MMIA and NAIA, there is work going on at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) Kano, Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Kaduna International Airport, Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu amongst others.
In the area of security, FAAN informed all airport users that the agency will not compromise safety in its quest to implement the executive order.
Commenting on the seriousness FAAN attaches to security, the acting general manager, public affairs, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu said in as much as the agency was ready to comply with the order, FAAN cannot compromise safety in any aspect of its operations. However, she pointed out that the agency cannot completely eradicate manual checks during arrivals and departure.
However, she said such checks could be done when a security agent wants to confirm his or her suspicion.
“FAAN cannot compromise security. So we are working with the security agencies, airlines and others. When there is a need to search baggage manually, we do so but that takes place at the baggage hall, not within the purview of where the passengers are”, she said.
To ensure aviation security (AVSEC) personnel maintain high standard of aviation security screening at all the airport in the country, FAAN had few months ago facilitated the training of about 35 AVSEC personnel who underwent counter terrorism training organised by the United Nations. These 35 security personnel, who are master trainers, are already being integrated into the system to train other aviation security officers.
Accordingly FAAN has been able to tackle the issue of touts and touting at the airports. To serve passengers who don’t like going to the counters, Yakubu said that the authority has also opened up passengers’ support services at the airports for such category of passengers.
“If you go to the airport now it is very sterile. We have been able to handle the issue of the touts; you know we are working with the police. Nobody that has no business in the airport should get into the airport now. It is either you have a boarding pass or you have staff identity or a visitors’ card. If you don’t have any of these documents, you are not allowed into the airport”, she said
On May 31, 2017 FAAN passed the mock test of aircraft emergency simulation exercise conducted at the international wing of Lagos Airport. Yakubu said the exercise was aimed at testing the readiness of rescue personnel in times of emergencies and check “our status in view of the upcoming certification of the airport. The exercise which was adjudged as “very successful” drew stakeholders from relevant government agencies including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), FAAN, Police Anti Bomb Squad, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Nigeria Air Force (NAF) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Confirming the agency’s readiness for the certification of major airports in the country by NCAA, FAAN stated that five major international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu, have been slated for certification in quick succession.
It said pending gaps had been closed adding that Lagos Airport would be the first in line for certification, while Abuja will follow before the other three.
Expressing confidence that the airports will come out in flying colours, the FAAN noted that the successful completion of the process will drastically reduce the high cost of insurance and also place the airports in good stead, while also ensuring effectiveness and efficiency.
In his views, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) president, Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu confirmed that “NAIA is standard and that FAAN is working.”
Aliu who toured the airport recently said: “From the briefing we received, it is a work that was well done and timely too because it is important for safety operations. We also inspected other facilities. The work on the runway that was done- the markings and all that- are also part of the process to enable the aerodrome certification. The certification of Abuja airport, we see that the agencies are working towards that. What is important at the end of the day is that that work is completed and the aerodromes are certified in accordance with ICAO standards.”
Also commenting, the director general of NCAA, Capt. Muhtar Usman said: “The certification process is in 5 stages and Lagos is about fourth stage. The fifth stage is just the signing of the certificate. So, we can say it is almost at the point of certification. Abuja will be certified too, once Lagos is finished, we will concentrate more. Even though Abuja, some of the things that we needed to put in place were taken care of during the closure of the Abuja airport. As I said, there are 5 stages: the pre-application stage, formal application stage, document and evaluation of document stage, operational demonstration stage. At this stage, all the documents you put forward, the way you operate, we want to see. Whatever lessons we learn in the certification of Lagos will be applied in the certification of Abuja. And whatever we learn in the process of certifying Lagos and Abuja, will be applied towards certifying Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports. And subsequently, we intend to go beyond the international airports.”
As a way of showing appreciation for the ongoing airports transformation, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Youth Council recently presented an award of ‘Distinguished African Personality of the Year’ to Dunoma. In the same vein, FAAN was given an award for ‘The Most Improved and Innovative Government Agency (Aviation Agency) In Nigeria’, 2017 by the Pan African International Recognition Award (PAIR). Apart from being elected as the president of Airport Council International (ACI-Africa) on the October 18, 2016, FAAN under Dunoma’s watch has attracted accolades and confidence from both the public and the private sectors.