…as Gbajabiamila asks committees to submit draft bill within two weeks
The House of Representatives is proposing an agency that will function as a Transportation Security Administration to sanitise service delivery at Nigeria’s airports, especially the international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.
The envisaged agency will harmonise the operations of the multiple Federal Government agencies currently performing overlapping functions at the airports.
The multiplicity of agencies has made travelling a harrowing experience for travellers at the country’s airports as allegations of corruption, extortion, insecurity, dehumanisation, poor infrastructure and poor service delivery are on the increase daily.
Available statistics show that Nigeria has at least 15 agencies working at its international airports.
The decision to set up the agency was taken at a meeting the Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, convened on Tuesday in Abuja, where he discussed the issues with the heads of the agencies.
The proposed agency, which will serve as a pool for the operations of the multiple agencies, will reduce their physical presence or the need for them to make physical contact with air travellers at the airports.
The agencies invited to the meeting included the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria; Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; Nigerian Immigration Service; Nigerian Customs Service; Nigeria Centre for Disease Control; Nigeria Police Force; National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency; Port Health; the Nigerian Quarantine Service; and the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Ease of Doing Business.
At the end of deliberations, the speaker mandated the House Committee on Aviation chaired by Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, to lead other relevant committees with supervisory duties over the listed agencies, to submit a draft bill on the TSA to the House within two weeks.
He stated, “This meeting has been a worthwhile effort. Our surest solution is to come up with a law that sets up an agency of government that oversees operations at the airports.
“The agency will function like the TSA. All the relevant committees of the House will work within the next two weeks to draft a bill on airport operations in Nigeria.
“They can also liaise with the Office of the SA to Mr President on the Ease of Doing Business so that the details of the draft will be worked out.”
Speaking earlier, Gbajabiamila had expressed unhappiness over the damage done to Nigeria’s image by the activities of the personnel working for some of the agencies.
The speaker recalled that reported cases of extortion, meaningless levies, multiple checks and unnecessary delay in passenger movements had been on the increase daily such that travellers recorded some of the corrupt officials and posted the videos on the social media, to the embarrassment of Nigeria.
Gbajabiamila added, “The face of Nigeria, which is the airport to visitors, we are not where we are supposed to be. Why and how do we move forward?
“How do we make travelling through an airport a pleasant experience? Some people pass through our airports and swear never to come back.
“There is lack of infrastructure, there is the high cost of regulatory levies, bad escalators, air conditioners, inter-agency squabbles, touting and so on.
“There are unintended consequences of these problems, including economic losses. So, the 9th House has a responsibility to look into these issues.”
Some of the agency heads, who spoke at the session, heaped much of the blame on the behaviour of men of the armed agencies like the NCS and the police, though they admitted that corruption cut across all the agencies.
They claimed that armed agencies often breached airport operations and responded when corrected, by either assaulting officials of other agencies or intimidating them.
On the issue of poor infrastructure, FAAN, which owns the airports, told the session that the country’s international airports required total reconstruction to bring them up to date with global standards.
The meeting resolved that the proposed TSA would be the starting point for addressing the multiplicity of problems encountered by travellers at the airports.