Airport Manager, Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Mr. Henry Efobi has attributed the peace currently enjoyed at Owerri airport to the listening ears of the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Engr Saleh Dunoma.
Speaking in an interview in Owerri recently, Efobi said that since he came to Owerri, he has not experienced a situation whereby the community holds the airport manager hostage.
According to him, he was able to study their grievances and was also able to find out what the host communities were looking for.
Giving the total credit to Engr Dunoma, the airport Manager said “Since I came, they have not done that because I studied their grievances and I know what they are looking for. I told my Managing Director about the issue and he listened. So, we adopted some strategies; for example, the indigenes constitutes about 60 per cent of the 185 staff that is in our pay roll. We have been helping them through employment. We were able to do this through the goodwill of FAAN MD, Engineer Saleh Dunoma who is a very good administrator and most importantly, a listening leader.
Efobi said that with Dunoma’s focus and robust leadership qualities, they were able to contain any kind of hostages, adding that they also have meetings with the communities where they discuss ways forward.
“Whenever, they want to do anything, they tell me and I give them advice too. Such understanding and rapport have helped to reduce that agitation, which they feel is against them. The federal government, on their own part has also been doing something, especially in the area of security”, Efobi said.
Speaking further, the airport Manager informed that the airport now has the Nigerian Air Force located very close to them.
According to him, the Air Force base is already supporting them and they now have full time patrol around the airport premises.
“We have strong arms support as a result of the presence of the Nigerian Air Force in the area. In addition, the Commander of the Base 211, Group Captain Lazarus is a very fine and proactive officer. With them, I think the issue of security in the area will be a thing of the past”.
Efobi said with the current leadership of FAAN, the agency has equally built robust relationships with other sister agencies which is amazing.
“We have very amazing relationships. We have avenue where we meet. We have airport security committee meeting where we meet. It is held once every month where issues are discussed. Once we have any report, we make sure they have it too”.
Mr. Efobi said that, the Owerri Airport has improved in terms of structure, adding that they tried as much as possible to improve on it. He however, said that his priority when he came to Owerri was to first motivate the staff in whatever way and that since then, they have been doing in-house training for the staff.
On the cargo section, Efobi said “from my observation since I come here, the cargo section here is being done by the State government. It is one of the promises the governor gave to his people. The cargo section is moving fine and the structures are coming up as we now have about six to seven buildings there now. The state government is doing something to make sure it takes off as soon as possible.