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Keyamo Speaks On Relocation Of FAAN, Says No Going Back

Following the controversy surrounding the relocation of the headquarters of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) from Abuja to Lagos, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN has said there is no going back on the plan.

Keyamo made the disclosure on Wednesday in a statement describing the development as “a storm in a tea cup,” made this point.

It would be recalled that over 100 employees of FAAN worked out of Lagos, with a small number of principal directors operating out of Abuja.

The Minister who spoke during on Channels Politics Today yesterday that the proposal to move the agency to Lagos was made before he was appointed as the minister of aviation.

He clarified that an organization’s headquarters did not always equate to the biggest structure or location with the most employees. Rather, he said, it was where “the decision makers sit”, stating, “They are all in Lagos, they are not really in Abuja.”

Keyamo said leaders of the agency had approached him on assumption of office to address their challenges, “They came to me to say some of the directors are here but the support staff don’t have a place to stay; you see them fly everyday to and fro Lagos/ Abuja”.

Lamenting that the problem of FAAN was compounded by lack of digitalisation of the agency, the minister disclosed that FAAN spent close to half a billion naira on tickets yearly.

“N450 million on tickets alone? I shouted,” he exclaimed.

Keyamo stated that the relocation would further enhance the operational efficiency of FAAN, as the old building can adequately attend to the accommodation challenge being faced in Abuja. He added that as minister he hardly met with Managing Director of FAAN more than once in a week.

“We are going ahead,” he maintained, stating that the movement is not movement of materials or persons, but one of re-designation.

Keyamo also spoke on other issues in the aviation sector. He said the sector was all about agreement and the ministry under his leadership had commenced efforts to enter into relevant agreements and partnerships, both with foreign and local investors, with a view to making the sector one of the best in Africa.

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According to him, the starting point is the creation of a master plan that would turn Nigeria to the aviation hub of Africa.

He said the administration of President Bola Tinubu, as part of efforts to transform the sector, had established a special intervention fund with the sum of over N40 billion earmarked in the 2024 budget.

The minister stated that among other things, the budget would be used to purchase navigational tools such as the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACOM).

Keyamo revealed that next week will see the formation of a technical group tasked with creating an aviation industry master plan, which would enable him to pitch his idea to investors worldwide. He stated that arrangements were already in place for a Canadian company to install free Wi-Fi in every airport in the nation.

The Minister revealed that he was in negotiations with the Minister of Justice to establish favourable legislative frameworks that would attract foreign investors to the aviation industry.

He said he would not allow certain current concessional agreements hinder his plan for the sector, especially agreements entered into over the years but yet to have any meaningful impact on the sector and the country.

He stated, “No court matter or concessionary agreement can hold me down. I will not allow any concessionary agreement to hold me down or hold the progress of the nation down.”

He also spoke of partnership with insurance companies to handle the challenge of flight delays and cancellation in the country.

According to him, once there is a delay or cancellation, the insurance companies “will buy the tickets from passengers” and see how they can later recover their money from the airline.

In addition, Keyamo stated that the ministry was attempting to require airlines to provide rebates as payment for any delays or cancellations.

According to him, the ministry will move ahead and gather a list of airlines that frequently have delays and cancellations so that appropriate action may be taken.

The minister emphasised that no local airline will be taken over as a national carrier. He refrained from commenting on the national carrier, citing the ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“I am saying it as a matter of policy…we will establish a proper national carrier,” he said, adding that efforts are on to get a better deal this time.

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