In what might be a bold statement of his policy direction, the new Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka, on Thursday said he would, henceforth, channel the resources of the ministry to boost safety and security of Nigerian airports rather than continue with the remodeling of terminals.
The former minister, Princess Stella Oduah, who was sacked by President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year, had made remodeling of major airport terminals across the country the priority of her tenure.
Speaking during an unscheduled inspection 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 status.
He said, “I 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”.
The former FRSC boss pointed out that the move to retain the United States Federal Aviation Authority Category One Status had provided the opportunity to review the safety of Nigeria’s aviation operations.
The minister said, “But more importantly, 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”, adding that “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”, he assured.