Home Opinion Engr Farouk: Broadening Nigeria’s Airspace Communication Architecture

Engr Farouk: Broadening Nigeria’s Airspace Communication Architecture

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Engr. Ahmed Umar Farouk, Managing Director, NAMA

By Ibn Umar

Provision of safe and functional air navigation services is a big business in global aviation industry. Managing a body responsible for carrying out this function requires a serious-minded and an astute administrator. Engr. Ahmed Umar Farouk, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is a typical example of the maxim “a round peg in a round hole.”

In less than three months in office, things have started changing in NAMA. The workers are now happy, pilots now have more confidence and even the stakeholders can now sleep with two eyes closed because the man at the helms is competent for the job.

NAMA as an Air Navigation Service Provider is mandated to manage the Nigerian Airspace to a level consistent with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standard And ‘Recommended Practices (SARPS) and make it rank among the safest, not only in the Africa-Indian Ocean (AFI) Region but the world over.

Some of its objectives include to provide safe and functional air navigation services that will meet international standards; increase Air Traffic Management (ATM) capacity in order to manage the increasing air traffic volume and simultaneously reduce delays, which in turn enhance service quality and reduce cost for airspace users. 

Due to the enormous role the agency plays which is different from other sister aviation agenices, much attention have always been given to the caliber of the management team of the agency. First, reason is because of the technical nature of NAMA and secondly, the need to ensure practicable provision of services that would guarantee safety at all times. 

It is in line with the above and the Federal Government’s  determination to bring world-class standards to Nigerian Civil Aviation, that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed  Engineer Umar Ahmed Farouk as the Managing Director of NAMA in December last year. 

When the announcement was made initially, those have stayed well enough in the industry were not surprised a bit because of Farouk’s intimidating  track records of many years. Ever before the appointment came, he has been working quietly and impactfully in one of the most important and technical departments in the agency. 

In fact, before he rose gradually to the MD position, Farouk served meritoriously as the Director of Safety Electronic and Engineering Services, a position that created an avenue for him to assist in no little measure in revolutionisation of airport technology nationwide. 

From installing instrument landing systems in major airports to pioneering solar-powered navigational aids, Farouk, during that period, was able to elevate safety and efficiency in air travel at his own capacity then.

However, these gigantic efforts put up by Farouk in the department of Safety Electronic and Engineering Services did not go unnoticed and have garnered recognition from several institutions with awards presented to him and the agency. 

Some of these recognitions include: the prestigious honour of National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) conferred on him five years ago by former President Mohammadu Buhari in recognition of his contributions towards the improvement of communication, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) facilities to ensure safe and efficient traffic services in Nigerian airspace

Farouk is also  Fellow Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), Fellow Chartered Institute of Administration (FCIA), Fellow Nigerian Mechanical Engineers (FNiMechE) and Fellow Nigerian Institute of Engineers (FNIE).

In 2018, he was decorated with the fellowship award of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NIMechE).

So it was quite understandable that his recent appointment as the helmsman of the agency was to allow Farouk replicate and extend the good works he executed in Safety Electronic and Engineering Services as director to other areas. 

Already, he had hit the ground running and has also started putting the structure in place for a better NAMA. 

When Farouk came on board last year, he expressed his desire to work. In one of his recent speeches, he made it known, that, he would prioritize communication and airspace stability.

Additionally, he declared a state of emergency on power within the agency, signaling a proactive stance aimed at enhancing operational efficiency.

Farouk stated, “NAMA is no longer on trial; we are on course, and our commitment to excellence is resolute.”

According to Engr Selzing Miri, President of National Association of Air Traffic Engineers, the appointment of Engr Farouk brought hope to NAMA saying that the first one hundred days have been characterised by reforms and repositioning that will transform the agency as he remained a go getter. 

“We are expecting that with that kind of spirit, the agency will benefit a lot from his activities as the helmsman saying that he remained optimistic of positive changes in the days ahead. 

Addressing the paramount importance of flight safety, Engr. Farouk pledged zero tolerance for air accidents. He emphasized strict adherence to global safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), prioritizing the safety and well-being of the flying public.

True to his word, Farouk has set the ball rolling and since his appointment, the entire aviation industry has greeted his emergence with excitement, with many players describing him as the right man for the job. 

Under his watch and due to the confidence bestowed on him, the agency was able to secure immediate government approval for the overhaul and modernization of the country’s airspace communication architecture.

With such initiative, pilots are now happier flying in the nation’s airspace  because the new move definitely ensure seamless communication between them and air traffic controllers.

Ultimately, the communication architecture of the country’s airspace is now broadened, just as he had already started to address issues that were before now, difficult to handle by his predecessors.

Meanwhile, Engr. Farouk’s tenure, which commenced with his entry into NAMA in 2002 from the federal ministry of labour and productivity, has been characterized by engineering prowess and strategic deployment of critical systems such as Instrument landing system and Doppler very high-frequency omnidirectional radio range.

No doubt, Farouk  as a multi-talented, resourceful aviation industry professional with vast  knowledge in Safety Electronic and Engineering has shown in a short spate of time, that he is the right man to take NAMA to the desired level and definitely, he can perform better when given higher responsibilities in the future. 

With the agency’s foray into overhaul and modernization of the country’s airspace communication architecture, it is sure that the sky is not the limit for the service provider.

In the words of the National President of National Air Traffic Communicators of Nigeria (NACAN) Rabiu Mohammed Sani, the coming on board of Engr Farouk as the Managing Director of NAMA is a blessing to the Nigerian aviation industry as an insider thar have worked for over thirty years is a great plus.

Sani said NAMA has achieved alot in the past three months with the palliatives to workers after payment of monthly salary 

He also commended the MD for declaring emergency on power and prioritised Communications and airspace stability and also emphasized on adherence to safety standards in line with ICAO to ensure safe airspace for operational efficiency.

Sani said with the present leadership, NAMA will  progress and be able to compete favorably with other countries in terms of safety of airspace and efficiency of operations but appealed for the provision of needed facilities such as the AHMS and to provide modernised radios across Communications offices in the country.

Ibn Umar writes from Lagos

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