The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, on Thursday night, said it was relocating its headquarters from Abuja back to Lagos where it was for decades to stop the waste of public resources and rip-off on the public purse.
The agency, which confirmed the internal memo from the Managing Director of the agency, Mrs. Olubumi Kuku, to the Director of Human Resources and Administration to provide the implication of the decision, said moving to Abuja was ill-advised in the first place.
But the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, has promised to build befitting offices in both Lagos and Abuja for FAAN.
In a statement by the Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Mrs. Obiageli Orah, FAAN confirmed that Keyamo had directed that the agency should move its headquarters back to Lagos, “where it has operated for decades until recently.”
FAAN said after wide consultations with stakeholders in the industry, which also involved the unions, it was agreed that the relocation was in the best interest of the Authority and the country for now.
The agency gave several reasons for the relocation, which included the fact that those affected by the decision to move the headquarters to Abuja had since returned to Lagos.
This, he said, was because there was no office space for them in Abuja, and that it was ill-advised in the first place to move the headquarters to Abuja, when there was no single FAAN building in the federal capital territory to accommodate all of them at once.
“Having returned to Lagos, the Authority would be liable to pay them DTA (Duty Tour Allowance) because technically they are working out of station as their official posting is to Abuja. The Minister has decided to stop this waste of public resources and rip-off on the public purse.
“The other option open to the Authority was abandon the old FAAN building in Lagos to rot away and to use its scarce resources to rent an office space in Abuja for millions of naira of public money, when in actual fact, more than 60 percent of its activities are in Lagos, given the huge passenger volume of the Lagos airports. The stakeholders and the minister decided against that and to save the country this waste,” the statement explained.
It also stated that Keyamo had rolled out plans to get concessionaires to build befitting offices for the Authority in Lagos and Abuja and until that is done, the Authority would continue to manage its old building in Lagos that could accommodate all its directors and senior officials for now.
The statement read: “Abuja continues to have full operational offices and the Authority has not scaled down operations in Abuja one bit. It is just the technical decision of where the Authority has its ‘corporate headquarters’ that has been taken without affecting the structure of operations as they are for now in both cities.
“In the near future, when befitting corporate buildings have been built for the Authority in both Lagos and Abuja, a final decision will be taken as to the location of the permanent headquarters, depending on the exigencies of the time.
“The Authority wishes to assure members of the public that it will continue to act in the best interest of the public and the country.”
FAAN also added that the minister was committed to taking decisions that were in the best interest of the country, especially as they concerned public funds and would not yield to ethnic or sectional sentiments that would derail the commitment.
Former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, after the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, ordered that the headquarters of FAAN and other aviation agencies existing in Lagos should relocate to Abuja.
At the time the directive was given, none of the agencies aside from the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had a complete office building in Abuja.
The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), now Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), was about to complete its head office in Abuja, while the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had started building its head office.
Currently, the administration of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is quartered in a rented office in Abuja while it has two structures that adequately accommodate its headquarters in Lagos.
The former minister did not make any adequate preparation for the movement and to force NSIB to move to Abuja, the Minister gave directive and demolished a modern NSIB headquarters in Lagos, which previously was installed with state-of-the-art facilities.
The urgency to move these headquarters was not explained, especially when about 60 percent of passenger throughput takes place in Lagos, which already has the needed infrastructure.