by Segun Odeleye
The major hallmark of Stella Oduah’s tenure as minister of aviation was her airports’ remodelling initiative, an aspiration to give airport terminals across Nigeria a face lift. Although some of Oduah’s critics are quick to point out that some of the work done was of low quality, nonetheless massive investments were made by the government and some progress was made.
Going forward however, there is expected to be a shift in priorities at the aviation ministry as the new man in charge, Osita Chidoka, has said he would rather channel the resources of the ministry to boost safety and security at Nigerian airports than in remodelling of terminals.
Speaking during an unscheduled tour of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, Chidoka said the focus on security and safety was to ensure that the country retained its Category One air safety certification.
He said, “I have tried to see that my predecessor had done very well in the terminal buildings; so, all that we need is to focus and complete the work that has already started. But with that, we want to pull our resources away from the terminal remodelling and focus more on the security and safety of the airports.
“While we want to make the passengers to travel in a more convenient manner, we don’t want to compromise the security of the airports. Our major strategy is to begin to look at the safety component of our work.
“We are making sure that there is an alignment between safety in the air and the security of passengers, and the terminal buildings; and of course, the passengers’ comfort.
“So, with that in mind, we are having a total review of our security system in all the airports and I have ordered the total review of the security system in all the airports with a view to making sure that they meet global best practices.”
Chidoka noted that work was going on well at the Abuja airport but added that “there is a lot of disruption to passenger operations.”
He said, “Our strategy is that we need to communicate more with the passengers. Between now and four to six months, we shall get the new terminal up and running in the domestic area.
“And by the time the work is completed, passengers will travel in a much more comfortable atmosphere”