Nigeria: Directors of Aviation Regulator Sacked after
Ag. President Inspects Airport
The Nigerian government sacked 10 directors of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on 24 February. The directors were sacked a day after Acting President Yemi Osinbajo made a surprise visit to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.
- On 23 February, Osinbajo toured the Lagos airport without notice to inspect facilities and observe immigration procedures first-hand. The acting president chairs the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Committee (PEBEC) and one of the committee's mandates is to ease travelling for visitors who are coming to Nigeria for business or tourism. He said on this airport tour, "The airport is one of the places where we need to ensure that facilities are working and that things are being done properly."1
- The NCAA directors were sacked the next day, although two have been recalled for undisclosed reasons. Local reports suggest that the latest dismissals were part of a civil service restructuring that began in 2016. In October that year, 22 directors at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) were either demoted or sacked.
- FAAN, the agency responsible for airport management, has now announced plans to repair faulty facilities (e.g. escalators, carousels) at the Lagos airport as directed by the acting president. The airport is the busiest in the country, accounting for 70% of international passenger traffic and 37% of domestic traffic.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in the capital Abuja is the second busiest in the country, and it will also be undergoing some rehabilitation starting this March. The shake-up of the aviation industry in Nigeria is a clear sign that the government is working to improve air travel as part of a drive to develop the operational environment.
It is also notable that efforts are now more energetic at a time President Muhammadu Buhari is away in the UK on an indefinite sick leave, indicating that reforms would be keenly pursued with Osinbajo in charge in the interim. However, sustainability depends on ongoing political circumstances surrounding Buhari's prolonged absence and the outcome of this flux.
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