Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Federal Government has ordered all aviation agencies to relocate their headquarters to Abuja within 45 days.
The Ministry of Aviation officials confirmed this on Friday, adding that the directive only involves four of the ministry’s agencies, as two other key parastatals have their headquarters in Abuja and Kaduna.
This came as some employees of the affected agencies complained that there were few office spaces in Abuja to accommodate the workforce.
However, it was learnt that the directive by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, is aimed at cutting down the cost of governance by the Federal Government.
Currently, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Accident Investigation Bureau and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency have their headquarters in Lagos.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency has its headquarters in Abuja, while the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology has its in Zaria, Kaduna State.
In a letter dated May 4, 2020, with reference FMA/PMD/7061/T/4 and signed on behalf of Sirika by the Director, Human Resource Management, FMA, Muhammad Shehu, the minister reminded the agencies that the order was given by the President in 2012.
The letter read in part, ”I am directed to remind you of a Presidential directive issued in 2012 requesting all the agencies under the Ministry of Aviation to relocate their corporate headquarters to the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) for efficient and effective coordination and enhanced service delivery and note that eight years after the directive, the agencies are yet to comply.”
The minister stated in the letter that it was imperative for the agencies to heed the order following the economic realities globally.
Sirika said, “Accordingly, considering the current situation and the economic impact worldwide, as well as the need to reduce the cost of governance and manage scarce resources in a sustainable way, it has become imperative and further to the minister’s directive to request that you facilitate and complete the relocation of your corporate headquarters within the next 45 days in line with this earlier directive.”
A senior official at the aviation ministry confirmed the letter and latest directive to our correspondent in Abuja, adding that the order had been issued earlier.
The official also stated that FAAN, NAMA, AIB and NCAA were affected by the directive.
The source said, “It (the directive) is true, but it is not new per se. Initial directive was given in 2008, another in 2012 which were not implemented.”
The official, however, countered claims by some employees of the affected agencies that their organisations had not been mobilised to relocate.
The source added, “On paper, both the NCAA and AIB have their headquarters in Abuja, but have continued to operate from Lagos even though mobilisation had been done for staff movement.
“This directive involves only FAAN, NAMA, AIB and NCAA. NiMet and NCAT have been in Abuja and Zaria respectively.”
Some workers at the affected agencies had stated that their organisations were ordered to relocate staff from Lagos to Abuja amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but no mobilisation funds to move and non readiness of office space in the FCT.
In fact, the workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of the offices in Abuja were under reconstruction and stressed that the order failed to consider the fact that over 60 per cent flight operations in Nigeria take place in Lagos.