Besides the economic challenges which Nigeria faced in recent history is the COVID-19 pandemic which made mess of all forecasts. But the role of Captain Rabiu Yadudu as the Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the nation’s number one gateway during the pandemic has been remarkable.
He is one of the human vessels used in Nigeria during the frightening period of the pandemic to navigate the storm. He put systems, processes, and human resources to good use to keep the airport in prime working condition and helped to contain what would have been the biggest casualty rate of the pandemic worldwide.
It bears repeating that during the pandemic, FAAN worked to stave off a calamity of immense proportion and all because of his presence there. If Nigeria is to count the heroes of the war against the pandemic, he is a natural choice along the frontline workers.
He coordinated, out flanked, out thought, rallied, influenced, and inspired a team that could possibly have been overwhelmed not just by the fears, anxieties and depressing tales that were coming from outside the country but of the presence of real people who were struck by the pandemic and were coming in their droves through the nation’s airport. In a situation where even cargoes are infected and all were managed with such uncanny ability, he deserves to be recognised for leading a resilient organisation.
At the risk of being immodest, Yadudu’s works made the contributions set by many of his predecessors to pale into insignificance in the aviation history in Nigeria. He became the guardian of the gateway into Nigeria and his management has been magnificent.
His style of operation is unique and distinct from his predecessors in terms of thinking outside the box and that has been his hallmark as the Authority gradually breaks tradition with what has been the way of operation in years past. He has seen virtually all and works in all departments that makes for a successful airport system that meets internationally acceptable standards in the 21 century.
It is apparent that Captain Yadudu’s experience in the aviation industry has served him creditably. He is comfortable in Aircraft Operations just as he is at ease in meeting the specifics of airport personnel and facilities management. He rose from the post of the Director of Airport Operations (DAO) of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) into the helm of the authority. As an International Civil Aviation Organisation/Airport Council International (ICAO/ACI) accredited airport professional, he came into the exalted office highly prepared, recommended and duly motivated for service.
Part of his decorations are his certifications which include training as a pilot which had given him the required credentials to captain a B747, Citation Sovereign and the Learjet 45XR with over 7000hrs of flying time under his belt, alongside being an experienced Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer(Avionics). He is confident in the air as he is on the ground. He is the proverbial round peg roundly fitting into the round hole of aviation matters. His strength is known for his ability to insist on professionalism.
Expectedly, because of his desire to boost morale of the workforce and build on existing facilities, he pitched on strategic areas as anchor for his tenure especially in human capacity development, development and utilization, infrastructure upgrade and maintenance and improvement in processes and procedures.
One of the success factors of Captain Yadudu is the reliance on knowledge as the driving strength required for meaningful and impactful changes in society. Armed with the role of knowledge in bringing about tremendous transformation for effective service delivery, he upgraded the FAAN Training School at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos to meet internationally acceptable standards. Given that the request for the designation of FAAN AVSEC was made in 2017, it was not until 2018 under the administration of Captain Yadudu that evaluation by ICAO was conducted in 2018.
Creating a hub status for the Lagos airport is a priority that Captain Yadudu has been pursuing passionately since his tenure started. The vision is for the new terminal to process 12 million passengers yearly while the 48,000 square meter facility beside the old terminal will process between 20 and 30 million passengers yearly. This dream is nearing fruition as the intermodal pattern required to serve the airport is being worked out with other agencies even including the Lagos state government.
There are other significant achievements that are difficult to be overlooked by any regular user of the Lagos airports. One of them is the menacing presence of a large colony of birds that have found the airport as a habitable location. That is no mean feat because bird strike was almost synonymous with the Lagos airports and it was of serious concern to airline operators. Deploying a scientific management approach, the birds were eventually dislodged and the key flight path for all the aircraft became a very safe runway.
Yadudu’s plans for the airport also includes the latest in technology, without which the airport will not only stress passengers, but lose operations time and most importantly money and profitability. The anticipated technologies to be deployed are the critical ones especially those needed for the check-in counters and fiber optic technology to speed up communication. His ambition for FAAN is large and with his determination, the Authority is poised for greater achievements ahead.
The competence of Yadudu goes beyond aviation matters. His understanding of how to manage men, utilise materials and be prudent in finances is outstanding. Revenue generation has not only improved enormously but financial control systems are in the right places to guarantee that leakages are minimised if not totally eradicated in the running of airport operations.
These feats have been recognized by the Airport Council International Aviation Service Quality which confirmed that what has transpired in FAAN between 2018 when the Authority signed on to the programme is a record of immense progress in general facilitation as recorded in the survey conducted by ACI ASQ.
For a man who has done so much in such a short span, a deserving and fitting applause should be given to him as we look forward to greater achievements in the years of meritorious service to the nation in the aviation sector.
The icing on the cake of his performance in the sector is his upward mobility and transition from being a member of the continental Airports Council International Africa (ACI-Africa) to that of the global membership of the World Governing Council of the Airports Council International in two years. His master stroke is commendable.
Ayele, is a veteran journalist based in Lagos