Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development has explained why the Tinubu-led government intends to relocate the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) from the nation’s capital, Abuja to Lagos.
According to Keyamo, Nigeria would be saving more than N450 million in airfares that would have been spent by officials on trips from Abuja to attend meetings in Lagos in one year.
“We are going ahead. The directive has been given,” the minister said.
Borno South Senator Ali Ndume, some chieftains of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and other Northern groups, kicked against the relocation of FAAN headquarters and some offices of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) saying the move was an attempt to marginalise the North.
But, Keyamo said the movement of the headquarters of the airport authority has become necessary in line with current economic and operational realities.
Keyamo said top FAAN officials and aviation unions approached him that the head office of the authority be moved to Lagos for operational efficiency.
On whether President Bola Tinubu was aware of the decision or not, he said: “I take the decision; it’s a decision under the purview of a minister.”
He said only the headquarters of one of the seven aviation agencies in the country is being moved from Abuja to Lagos.
Keyamo said when his predecessor, Hadi Sirika, moved the headquarters of all aviation agencies from Lagos to Abuja in 2020, no adequate provision was made for the principal officers like the directors and the departments under them.
He added that the headquarters is where the decision-makers meet, not where the largest number of workers are and not where the biggest building is.
The minister said that over 100 of the 132 workers at the head office are in Lagos while only the directors are in Abuja — without their staffers.
“You see them flying every day to and fro Abuja to get one file signed. They fly every day back and forth. In one year, they spent close to half a billion naira on flight tickets. N450m on flight tickets alone,” he said.
On the failed Nigeria Air project, Keyamo said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the controversial project initiated by Sirika.
He said: “The EFCC is investigating that deal. There is a criminal investigation going on. I have called for the report.”
Keyamo said no local airline would be designated as a national airline, adding that “we will establish a proper national carrier”.
Keyamo also threatened to name and shame airlines, which do not have justifiable reasons for cancelling their customers’ flights.