Posted by Sade Williams
Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ARTI), a body of professionals in the Nigerian aviation industry has thrown its weight behind the planned centralisation of security screening checkpoints at the nation’s airports, saying that the current multiple checks by various security agencies are a disgrace to the country.
Dr. Gabriel Olowo, the President of ART in an interview in Lagos, lamented that despite the Ease-of-Doing-Business scheme of the Federal Government, myriads of security points at the airports had made nonsense of the policy, stressing that implementation of laws had always been the major challenge confronting the nation.
Olowo explained that if the current House of Representatives led by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House could ensure the implementation of the policy, the image of Nigeria would swell greatly in the comity of nations, while Ease-of-Doing-Business would be achievable.
Olowo who is also the President of Sabre Travel Solutions, Central and Western Africa, declared that it was necessary for the Federal Government to sanitise the Nigerian airports, stressing that if the Transport Security Administration (TSA) of the United States could centralse security information, Nigeria should not be an exemption.
He said: “The Gbajabiamila House of Representatives is thinking of giving Nigeria something close to TSA. That is sharing security information and just having one security checkpoint at the airports. That is sharing news for me and the entire body of ART is throwing its weight totally behind this.
“Most of the time, when policy statements come out, implementation always becomes a big task. We have spoken at various times on this matter. Our Secretary General, Grp. Capt. John Ojikutu has released a lot of documents on how this can be done several years back.
“The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came, issued a statement on this matter, the many checkpoints disappeared at a time. I don’t know whether it was gazetted or not. Action has always been our problem. We have discussed many issues and matters, but implementation has always been our problem. If that will be our Christmas gift for 2021 for the sector, get it done and sanitise our airports.”
“All these many checkpoints at our airports, and the ‘what do you have for the boys?’ Give us a bad image non-stop. All these unnecessary compliments at airports, rather than concentrate on the job; check the documents and let the fellow move are unwarranted.”
He insisted that the effort to satinise the Nigerian airports was a task that must be accomplished by the government.
According to him, in the U.S. for instance, all the information about a passenger – political criminal, corruption, drug and others are in one centre and accessible by all the security agents, insisting that those could also be replicated here through technology.
“Three stages only. Once the check-in is done, you have your boarding pass, you go to the security door and once that is done, you are in the screening area. You go to the shopping lounge. As simple as that.
“But, here, you go through immigration, somebody is in the security team, somebody will check your international passport in and out. World best practices become an issue for us in Nigeria. Why? Are we the only country in the world that has a problem? Best practices are best practices and it is done in other economies. I salute Gbajabiamila and I think he is able to drive this to a good conclusion,” he said.