Thursday 6 December 2012


Sky Watch Nigeria
By Yakubu Dati

The attention of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has been drawn to a news story, with the above headline, published in the November 25, 2012 edition of the Sunday Mirror Newspaper and taken from a petition allegedly authored by a few of the staff affected by the recent staff rationalization in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria namely Messrs Gideon Solanke, Adeoye Adefarakan, Biodun Oyedepo, Samuel Komolafe and Kayode Bello.

It is curious that a petition allegedly written by retired public servants to the President and other top ranking government officials, asking for justice, could find its way into the media even before the recipients received them. It will be recalled that this story was published in some national dailies last month under the same misleading headline “Fresh Crisis Rocks Aviation Ministry”

The Authority is constrained to issue this release in order to expose some of the lies contained in the so-called petition and by so doing, hope that the public will see that the real motive for writing that petition was mischief, on the part of the petitioners. 

For example, the petition states, according to the Sunday Mirror, that “the present General Manager, Audit, who is on (grade) level 17 only graduated about four years ago.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

The General Manager, Audit, Mr. James Okoye graduated from the University of Nigeria with a BSc degree in Civil Engineering (2nd Class, Upper) in 1990 and obtained an MBA degree from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu in 2002. 

His working experience took him through top management positions in Citizens International Bank Ltd from 1997 to 2003 and Assurance Bank of Nigeria Ltd from 2003 to 2005. 

He later left for Unlimited Oil Service Company Ltd in 2006 as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and was there till his recent appointment.

It is also untrue that all the affected officers were career officers. Three of the alleged petitioners, Samuel Komolafe, Adeoye Adefarakan and Biodun Oyedepo were brought into FAAN as General Mangers by former Aviation Ministers between 2005 and 2006 even when most of them were not qualified to be employed as Assistant General Managers then. 

Their appointments, among over 35 others made in key parastatals under the Ministry of Aviation during the tenures of Professor Babalola Borisade and Chief Femi Fani-Kayode between 2005 and 2006 were glaringly in favour of one section of the country but the petitioners and the labour unions did not find any reason to protest such injustice or cry “ethnic cleansing”. 

The records of these appointments and subsequent recruitments between 2008 and 2011 are available in our Human Resources Department for those who care to cross-check.
One of the General Managers brought into FAAN during this inglorious period insisted that key officers in the department he was brought in to head were all compulsorily retired because he just could not work with them. 

That General Manager is still working in FAAN today and these petitioners know him. During the retrenchment exercises that came with the appointment of these non career General Managers, three career executive directors from one section of the country in one of the agencies were compulsorily retired at the same time.

The irony is that these petitioners were beneficiaries of those heavily lopsided rationalization exercises in 2005 and 2006 but they did not find any reason to cry “ethnic cleaning” or write petitions to President Obasanjo then.

Of course, none of the career directors and General  Managers who were unjustly retired in those exercises found it necessary to write petitions because they knew that Government, being the employer, had the prerogative to dispense with the service of any of its employees, in the public interest.

What the petitioners forgot to include in their petition was that most of the General Managers, Deputy General Managers and Assistant General Managers who were appointed between 2005 and 2006 and who are from the same section of the country were not affected by the last restructuring exercise. Besides, two of the key directors recently appointed during the last restructuring exercise are from the same section of the country as the petitioners who see “ethnic cleansing” as the reason behind that exercise.

Again, between 2005 and 2006, all the appointments made for heads of public affairs department in virtually all the parastatals under the Ministry of Aviation were from the same section of country as the petitioners. None of these General Managers was affected in the last restructuring exercise, so where is the “ethnic cleansing” that the petitioners were crying about.

The Authority wishes to assure members of the public that management will not be distracted from its onerous responsibility of transforming our airports into world class facilities that all Nigerians will be proud of. 

The signs are beginning to show at the 11 airports where the remodelling project is beginning to yield dividend for air travellers and airline operators.
No amount of blackmail by public servants, who may have been deceived into believing that they were sacred cows, can deter the Authority from pursuing its vision of being among the best airport groups in the world.

*Yakubu Dati is the General Manager (Corporate Communications)


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