Posted by Sade Williams
Regional manager, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Abba, has said that one of the contributory factors to certification of Nigeria’s airports was the immense contributions of Engr. Saleh Dunoma, managing director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and President of Airports Council International, Africa (ACI-Africa).
Shin-Abba said Nigeria’s airports thrive well in the past few months under the tenure of Dunoma as President, ACI-Africa, adding that his experience and personal efforts at ensuring that the airports were up to international standards stood out during the certification period.
Speaking to journalists at MMIA on Monday, where a team comprising experts from different countries converged for an assessment of Nigeria’s airports under the Airport Excellence (APEX) programme of ACI, she said FAAN was ready for the next certification by the NCAA, which takes three years interval.
The Airport Excellence (APEX) in Safety Programme provides assistance for ACI members to improve their level of safety and compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices.
According to her, the authority would continue to comply with international standards in order to make NCAA job easier.
“Definitely, because it was a passion, he gave us the all the needed support. You can’t be the head of a place and your own airport is not certified, he has been trying, in fact, this current exercise has to do with his commitment to the security of airports.
“The simple word is compliance, we have got to a stage where we have to comply with all ICAO standard and regulations. And we try as much as possible to maintain all that we have achieved so that we are complaint, we don’t need special preparations for the next certification, all we need to do is comply with standards. It is like when someone builds a house and maintains it regularly, and another comes to audit it, you don’t need special preparations”, she said.
On when the new terminal in Lagos would be ready for use, she said work was going on the project adding that what may be delaying it is the construction of two bridges that would link the terminals and assist passenger facilitation which she said were already being done.
She disclosed that APEX exercise would go a long way in improving the lot of the airports in terms of security and safety as any open item which might be identified would be closed by Nigeria.
“We are on a good pedestal, but there is ample room for improvement, with this exercise, many other things might be thrown up and then we try as much as possible to address them, the officials will leave here with whatever findings they have and eventually tell us recommendations on how to close the items. And aviation security is growing everyday and to get the best practices, you have to do self audit and outsiders have to audit us so that we know where stand.
“Work is seriously going on the terminal and we need to build a bridge, that have started, so that passengers can drop at the front of the terminal building, another bridge that will connect both old and new terminals, as soon as that one is settled, I think we are good to go”, she added.
Earlier, Group Capt.Usman Abubakar Sadiq (Rtd), director, Security Services, FAAN, closed that the essence of the exercise is to review the airports in order to know where to improve, noting that it is not only about corrections but about assistance that can be equally extended to the airports.
“It is a welcome development and they are to look at our facilities, manpower, perimeter fences and anything that has to do with security and how to improve.
“We stand to gain a lot, we feel happy when we see such organisations in our country because they make us stand on our toes, it makes us to know the areas where we are lacking and how to improve such areas, you will agree with me that we are trying to be the best in Africa and eventually, in the world. Therefore, such constant visit and assessment of areas of concern is very important, they will look at our airsides, they will look at our equipment, facilitation and quite a lot of things as regards security and safety.
“The certification has been there, we have been trying to keep it moving, we are not lacking in that area. Like you have heard from their leader, they have enumerated areas of concern and where they are checking”, he said.
Sadiq, who said the importance of aviation security cannot be overemphasized, noted, ‘We know areas that we are lacking, we know where we are striving, the Federal government is doing its best, FAAN is doing its best’.
He said the team could identify ‘open items’ during the exercise but that FAAN would try as much as possible to close them.
“Anytime we have an open item, we try as much as possible to close such items in line with best practices, we have ICAO, EU, and the rest that are always visiting, we try to ensure that we meet up with standards.
The ACI have about 641 members and the President of ACI-Africa is in Nigeria, he has been of assistance in several areas. But when the team goes back, they write their report and we act on such reports’’.
Also speaking, leader of team, Brahim Lakhlifi, ACI WORLD Consultant, said the team is expected to spend one week in Lagos and then move to Abuja next week for the assessment
“APEX is a pair review programme , we are here from different airports with different experiences to share with FAAN. It is a learning process, we will of course, try to see whether there are some areas to improve and will as well try to pick some best practices to duplicate in other airports, it is not at all an audit, we have to work in collaboration our colleagues to see what we can improve in the system. We will be in Lagos for five days and next week we will move to Abuja for the same exercise”.