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Union Leader gives thumbs up, knocks, X-rays the industry under six years of the Buhari government


Comrade Ahmed Danjuma, Chairman, ATSSSAN FAAN Branch.

As the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration clocks another year in office and six years of governance, stakeholders in all sectors of the economic and Nigerians are assessing the achievements thus far made in all the sectors.

Many believe his administration has been a mixed bag of good, the bad and ugly. However, the fact cannot be denied that some milestones have been recorded and thus it cannot be tales of woes.

In the Aviation industry, a sector pivotal to the socio-economic development of the country, has seen some significant touch of upgrade, modernization of some safety critical infrastructure like in the airports, navigation aids and in some areas manpower development with the acquisition of facilities for NCAT.

In the area of oversight, the regulator, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, has been applauded for being on its toes in ensuring airlines adhere strictly to standards and recommended practices and standard operating procedures in ensuring safety at all times.

The only accident recorded was the helicopter crash in Opebi in 2020 where three persons died, apart from that, the industry accident record rate has been low, kudos to the AIB for ensuring accident investigation reports are released in time with safety recommendations that has assisted in preventing a recurrence.

There are many proposals the FG has put forth tagged the Aviation Development Roadmap, to turn the fortunes of the industry around . While efforts are on to bring this Roadmap to reality, it is the humbly opinion of many that achieving all at once may be difficult but a gradual process, that is taking it one after the other, may do the magic.

However, labour assessment may defer from the above because they have been at logger-head with Government over some vexed issues like the proposed concession of the four major international Airports in the country.

In this interview, a union leader in the Aviation industry, Comrade Ahmed Danjuma, Chairman, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN branch X-rays the sector under this present administration.

Six years of this government as far as labour relations in the industry is concerned has not been palatable, it has been his and downs because there have so many challenges in various agencies of government in the industry as such, labour was not left sleeping, we have to rise up day in, day out to challenge some of the government policies that we felt that was not palatable for Labour and one and the most important is the proposal by the Federal Government to concession the four International airports owed by FAAN, that has been a great challenge to us because we have to take our time to study what government intends to do and proffer our own input and options to the government as against the proposal.

When we talk on general terms, the industry has done a little developments most importantly the one  I can easily recall is the attempt by the executive to review the Acts that establish all the agencies FAAN, NCAA, AIB, NAMA.

The review is very important, it is long overdue so if that Act is signed into law, it will give a lot of privileges to the agencies and it will allow them to operate very well and I think the government also tried in improving the capacity the Nigeria College of Aviation Authority NCAT, Zaria by providing the enabling environment and training facilities like the fire simulator and the aircraft simulator aside from that, there is little or no much I can say that has been achieved rather, there has been proposal for things to be done and we can not say it is an achievement until when it is done.

The airport terminals inaugurated in Kano, Port-Harcourt and Abuja, are they not achievements?

I will classify that as an achievement because in the history of Nigeria, government after government always fail and known for non-completion of ongoing projects and has also been an issue. It is good that this government decided to complete this very national assets and some of them have already been put into use even though there are some challenges in this new terminals which we expected government to have corrected these challenges but plus or minus it is an achievement parse but we hope that government will still look into those terminals and correct the wrongs because there are so many defects from designs and their subsequent completion of these terminals but if government can look at it and make those corrections, I think it will be a great achievement.

What about in the area of safety and security, don’t you think the minimal zero accident so far recorded is worth celebrating?

It is indeed, kudos goes to the regulator, the Nigeria Civic Aviation Authority, NCAA, they have not been sleeping actually, and that has put the airlines on their toes to ensure that all safety guidelines are adhere to.In the area of security, I think FAAN in particular has tried by providing the minimum equipment needed and personal to manage the airport despite the huge infrastructure that has been provided which requires more hands to operate and manage those terminals, there is still news for manpower in most of our airports as far as security is concern.

For equipment, the new terminals are good,  the old terminals in other airports really need an upgrade particularly when it comes to screening equipment, closed circuit televisions are also required in most of these airports particularly with current security situation in the country, the airports needs to be highly fortified so that intrusions can easily be detected before its even gets into the airport. So, these are challenges government has to look at extensively to ensure that all these airports are secured for passengers comfort.

What about the emergence of new airlines in the industry?

Well, this is a great and a very good development for the industry to be expanding and I will also give kudos to the NCAA in providing the enabling legal framework  for the airlines to come in, areas of acquiring the AOC where made a little minimal not too hectic like before for new entrant to have access into the industry and that ultimately translate to more business activities like more employment generation to Nigerians and most importantly, options to the travelling public and our hope is that, as time goes on, the prices of these airlines ticket will come down, competition will improve and when there is competition, there is going to be efficiency. Efficiency comes when people are competing to win the souls and minds of their customers, so it is a great achievement and we hope to see more of the airlines coming in for the good of Nigerians that intend to travel by air.

Do you think the airfare is really on the high side considering their cost of operation?.

I always disagree with that impression made by most of the airlines, airline tickets can be cheaper than this for goodness sake it is too high, why are we always complaining about spare parts, cost of forex and what have you? We should know that maintenance is not done everyday, if you are to do C or D checks, it takes the for you to do that, so, what happened to the money you have been getting over the period before you get to that maintenance period?

What about aviation fuel and taxes they pay to the agencies?

When you say taxes, it appears somebody is forcing someone to pay, this are service charges, we provide service so you should pay for the service we provide to you, so it is not a tax.Aviation fuel in Nigeria has not been that bad, most importantly, availability is key and it is available and I believe the price is not that high for it to impact on the price of the ticket this high.