The Federal Government penultimate week took a far reaching step to sanitise the aviation industry, particularly the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) where over 22 Directors, General Managers, Deputy General Managers and others who were said to have been sneaked into the agencies by a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah were asked to go, or demoted.
The action was roundly applauded because of many years of injustice where majority of the people were shipped into FAAN, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) at the expense of those who were far above their seniors if they were to join the civil service from Grade Level 8.
More pathetic is saddling people with little or no experience with positions that make them a square peg in a round hole. Many of them looked lost in the dispatch of their duties.
Already, panic has gripped some top officials of NAMA who are also expected to be met with similar fate like their counterparts in FAAN. Some of them with the exception of a few are already assured of their positions in NAMA because of the enormous work they have done to reposition the agency.
Their fear is further made worse by a petition written to the Minister of State for Aviation; Hadi Sirika by the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE). The group alleged that some of the names initially pencilled down for demotion or sack were deliberately removed by some powerful people in government, submitting only 29 names it claimed were wrongly engaged and placed in high positions above their qualifications since 2012 when over 3000 people were brought in FAAN.
In the petition entitled, “Re: Implementation of Proper Placement in Aviation Parastatals-Not Yet Uhuru with reference number NUATE.GS/HMS.FMT 16/ signed by NUATE Secretary-General, Olayinka Abioye, the group lauded the Minister for reducing the number of General Managers and others in FAAN, but insisted that the Minister was yet to fully implement the proper placement demanded by the union.
NUATE alleged that some names were deliberately removed before the commencement of the exercise in FAAN, raising the alarm that this single failure could dent the entire exercise.
In its earlier petition to the Minister dated October 15, the union equally submitted its observation of the wrong and irregular employment and placement of officers at NAMA, saying 29 personnel from NAMA were wrongly placed by former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.
Be that as it may, the government needs to look at some bright minds that have been laid off with a view to bringing back following groundswell attestation that they brought verve, energised their various agencies with their creativity. Such people should never be allowed to go.
The civil service in Nigeria is almost dead because of lack of creativity from career civil servants who are only contented with just rising through the ranks. I support a mixture of career civil servants with people with private sector experience to galvanise a sector looking for a rescue.
The next few months will show whether these changes are in the best interest of the nation. The entire system stinks, full of intrigues, lure for power and the disgraceful act of back biting with the system worse off.
NAMA, as it is today is the most polarised aviation agency in the world, with reported indiscipline of officials, gross insubordination.