The sack of the Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) Rabiu Yadudu, has been enmeshed in controversy.
Yudada and some directors of FAAN were sacked by the Federal Government days before the end of the tenure of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He was ousted for Kabir Yusuf Mohammed, the Regional General Manager, North Central, Airport Manager Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Mohammed, before replacing Yadudu, was also the chairman of the Aviation Roadmap Implementation Committee, a position he was appointed to by Sirika.
Why FAAN MD, Yadudu, was sacked?
Yadudu’s sack has been linked to the struggle Nigeria Air is facing in its bid to commence operation before the end of May 2023.
It was also reported that the hammer will fall on officials of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). This comes at a period the country’s national carrier, Nigeria Air, is unable to obtain the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).
Without the Air Operator’s Certificate, Nigeria Air can’t fly, and Sirika has promised President Buhari will commission the national carrier before leaving office.
Failure to commission Nigeria Air means the incoming administration of Bola Tinubu will be the one to commission the national carrier and take the glory should Tinubu’s government go ahead with the national carrier plan.
According to The Nation, Yadudu’s sack was approved to pave the way for the approval of Nigeria Air to commence the air travel business.
FAAN and NCAA are in charge of approving new airline operations in Nigeria, but they have delayed the takeoff of Nigeria Air amid restraining order that prevents NCAA from handing the Air Operator’s Certificate to the national carrier.
Recall that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), a group of domestic airline operators, had filed a petition, warning NCAA; “You are therefore notified to desist from dealing with the Minister/the Ministry of Aviation and/ or their agents, privies or representatives, pertaining the Air Operator Certificate, subject matter of the suit, to avoid consequences of disobedience of court orders”.
Also, the domestic airlines have taken Nigeria Air, Sirika and other promoters of the national carrier to court over the partnership between Nigeria Air and Ethiopian Airlines.
This case is still pending in court and hanging on the neck of the national carrier, making it impossible for Nigeria Air to begin operation.
It was reported that the officials expected to replace Yadudu and five other FAAN members will allegedly dance to the tone of Sirika as regards approval of the Air Operator’s Certificate.
House of Reps cautions against bypassing regulatory processes for Nigeria Air
Aside from the sack of FAAN MD and other directors at the regulatory body, it was alleged that the Minister of Aviation is also pressurising NCAA officials, who have threatened to resign their position.
It was alleged that Sirika is trying to sidestep some regulatory processes to have Nigeria Air ready for operation before 29 May, undermining the regulatory oversight of FAAN and NCAA.
The chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, on Sunday, frowned against the alleged faceoff between Sirika and the regulatory bodies.
“I understand that some senior personnel of the authority are threatening to turn in their resignation letters over claims of pressures on NCAA from the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to grant wivers to the proposed Nigeria Air.
“It is a well acknowledged fact that the Minister has a passionate desire to deliver a national carrier to Nigerians but if the project could not materialise under him it shouldn’t be a do or die affair.
“Government is a continuum. Whatever he could not accomplish, the next government or next minister after him will take over. I believe that any good projects he could not finish his predecessor will not abandon them so long as they will add value to the industry,” Nnaji was quoted by Daily Trust.