The plan to relocate the corporate headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) may soon come to fruition as the Federal Government has made budgetary provision of N390m for the completion of the project.
This is coming amidst mixed feelings in the aviation industry over the insistence by the government to relocate the headquarters of agency.Sirika had in July last year inaugurated a project team for the construction of the proposed new office complex and staff quarters for FAAN in Abuja.
The authority, which is the manager of over 20 airports across the country, has been operating without a befitting headquarters.Its corporate head office in Lagos was partly gutted by fire in April 2017 thus prompting the authority to get serious with constructing a befitting headquarters building.
An invitation for bid was advertised in newspapers for interested contractors to apply in line with the public procurement stipulation.
However, the move to have a befitting headquarters as laudable as it is, according to aviation stakeholders, has come with mixed feelings as the project would be sited in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, instead of Lagos where 80 per cent of aviation stakeholders and companies reside.
But it appears the government has made up its mind as it budgeted N390m for the completion of the project in the 2019 appropriation bill presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The project, listed as ongoing, is one of those itemised under the Ministry of Transportation budget.
Some stakeholders say relocating FAAN headquarters to Abuja might slow down the development of aviation sector.
They insist Lagos controls 65-70 per cent of passenger traffic and generates most of the revenues for FAAN.
But Elder Gbenga Olowo, President of Aviation Roundtable, told our correspondent recently that, “locating FAAN headquarters to Abuja is of no consequence in the sense that senior management of the organization (presently) are hardly found on seat in Lagos due to demand of the many meetings with bureaucracy in Abuja.”
According to him, airport operation is not necessarily related to the location of FAAN headquarters.
Another stakeholder who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity said, “truly, FAAN MD and other heads of aviation agencies are usually in Abuja holding one meeting or the other with the minister. This has reduced their frequencies in their respective seats in Lagos and their works have not suffered.”
But aviation workers may head for showdown with the government over the planned relocation of FAAN headquarters.
National President of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ben Nnabue, in an interview with Daily Trust said government only made provision for the completion of the project and not for the relocation of staff.
According to him, the Federal Government would have to sit with the union to discuss relocation bonus for workers and until that is done, the talk about the relocation of FAAN to Abuja is of no consequence.
He said, “FAAN has not made provision for the relocation of workers and the labour and the management have to sit down. It is not to just wake up one morning and ask workers to move to the city centres with their families.
“We need to sit down and agree on what we are to pay people as relocation allowances. They are not following the due process. We plan to do a letter to that effect to let him know some labour issues associated with the relocation which the 2019 budget did not talk about,” he said.