The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, says there is no going back on the relocation of the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos.
“We are going ahead. The directive has been given,” the minister said matter-of-factly on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Wednesday.
Senator Ali Ndume from Borno South as well as chieftains of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and other northern groups had kicked against the moves by FAAN and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), insinuating that it was an attempt to marginalise the north.
However, Keyamo said the movement of the headquarters of the airport authority has become necessary in line with current economic and operational realities.
Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the movement of the FAAN headquarters would, every year, save the government and the people of Nigeria half a billion naira wasted on air tickets by officials of the authority who have to commute from Lagos to Abuja and back.
The minister said top FAAN officials and aviation unions approached him that the head office of the authority be moved to Lagos for operational efficiency.
‘I Approved FAAN Relocation, Not Tinubu’
On whether President Bola Tinubu was aware of the decision or not, he said, “I take the decision; it’s a decision under the purview of a minister”.
He said only the headquarters of one of the seven aviation agencies in the country is being moved from Abuja to Lagos.
Keyamo said when his predecessor, Hadi Sirika, moved the headquarters of all aviation agencies from Lagos to Abuja in 2020, no adequate provision was made for the principal officers like the directors and the departments under them.
He clarified that the headquarters is where the decision-makers meet, not where the largest number of workers are and not where the biggest building is.
He said over 100 of the 132 workers at the head office are in Lagos while only the directors are in Abuja — without their support staffers.
Keyamo said the whole issue was compounded with the fact that FAAN is not yet digitalised and so, in one year, they spend half a billion naira on flight ticket between Lagos and Abuja alone.
“You see them flying every day to-and-fro Abuja to get one file signed. They fly everyday back and forth. In one year, they spent close to half a billion naira on flight tickets. N450m on flight tickets alone,” he said