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The changing face of Nigerian airports

 The importance of the aviation industry to national growth and greatness cannot be over emphasized. Indeed to put it aptly, aviation holds the ace for accelerated national growth. 

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Of the constituent elements that aggregate to the aviation system in any nation; the airport stands out in eminently dominant terms on account of its visibility. This is to say that a country’s airport is the super structure on which other elements in the aviation system is anchored. It is the symbol of national pride, and national prestige. A country’s airport is the gateway to national image. It is not only a factor of first impression, but indeed of foremost consideration to prospective foreign investors.

It is against this background therefore that one cannot fail to appreciate the managerial acumen being brought to bear in the drive to steer the nation’s airports to greater height in the sub region.

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The driving force to this monumental change is no other than Engr.Saleh Dunoma, the visionary Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who is equally the current President, Airports Council International (ACI) – Africa. 

Only recently, he blazed a trail when under his leadership, two Nigeria’s busiest and strategic airports-the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja were certified in line with recommended standards of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). 

By this remarkable feat, this unassuming quiet and silent achiever had not only succeeded in recording a ground breaking feat, but also making an indelible foot print on the aviation global business.

The epoch making significance of these achievements could not have been more succinctly expressed, than in the authoritative voice of the Director General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman, who said that by these achievements, Nigeria ranks as the only country in Africa to have its two major airports certified in accordance with ICAO safety standards. Not only that, it becomes equally important to emphasize for clarity, that it equally ranks as the only country in the latest African sub-region with internationally certified airports.

He stated further that the certification, has tremendously enhanced the rating of the two airports and from the economic end point, it will trigger the multiplier creation of more jobs for the citizens, reposition air transport to contribute more to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country by boosting passenger traffic on local and international routes which is expected to hit over 15million per annum in the next 15 years.

Attesting to Nigeria’s leading position in African aviation industry, the NCAA boss said ‘’the attainment of this safety milestone ,is quite significant  in view of the fact that less 25% international airports in Africa and Indian Ocean are certified’’. He stated further that with the certification of these airports in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria has become the first African country in the AFI-Africa /Indian Ocean region. 

With the tremendous tall edge already attained over regional competitors in the African arena, Dunoma, a strategic planner, refuses to let down the steam as he assures that Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports would also be certified in the second and third quarters respectively.

In his integrative, all encompassing total approach, this astute manager blazed another remarkable trail on the equally vital dimension of human capacity development with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Training School, certified as Training Centre for the Airports Council International (ACI). 

By this development, FAAN Training School will now be used as a facility for the ACI to conduct trainings to groom aviation personnel on airport management, security and other related subjects of interest to the Council.

Viewed from another dimension, one cannot help but remark, that it is a tribute to Dunoma’s visionary ingenuity that the tremendous infrastructural repositioning of the airport, as championed with remarkable zest by the incumbent FAAN boss, could not have come up at a better time when it is expected to offer a conducive milieu for the New National Carrier, which is expected to fag off operation later in the year.

FAAN has made a remarkable impact on the federal government‘s ‘’Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria,’’ which is aimed at ensuring that government agencies deliver services to the general public in a timely, honest and efficient manner. This initiative launched last year has added another impetus for the authority to deliver quality services at all airports across the country.

As part of security enhancement of the airports nationwide, the authority recently deployed more Closed- Circuit Television-CCTV at the airports to further ensure wider coverage and improve surveillance. The recent security measures put in place has brought about drastic reduction in touting and illegal activities at the airports. This drive of giving face-lift on facilities at the gateways, informed the installation of three new baggage scanners at the Lagos airport replacing process of manual screening. 

Some other airport facilities given attention by the FAAN management include; elevators ,Information desk, car park, lounges, lighting system, aviobridges and cooling system among others.

As the country hosts, the 59th Conference and General meetings of Airports Council International (ACI) -Africa, between April 14 and 20, 2018 under the leadership of Engr. Dunoma, the immensely patriotic gestures of this enigmatic FAAN boss can be more particularly appreciated in a milieu, where everyone is ever busy with parochial personal agenda and crave for self enrichment. 

Atobatele wrote this piece from Lagos

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