213 British nationals were Monday evacuated from Nigeria through the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on a British Airways flight BA9157 .

The National President, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Ilitrus Ahmadu, has said the Federal Government’s directive for aviation agencies to move their Corporate Offices in Abuja did not include the rationalisation of staff.

Newsmen report that the Federal Ministry of Aviation in a letter dated May 4 had directed agencies to relocate their Corporate Headquarters to Abuja within 45 days.

“I am directed to remind you of a Presidential directive issued in 2012 requesting all the agencies under the ministry to relocate their Corporate Headquarters to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for efficient and effective coordination and enhanced service delivery between the ministry and its agencies and to note that, eight years after the directive, the agencies are yet to comply.

“Accordingly, considering the current situation and the economic impact worldwide, as well as the need to reduce the cost of governance and manage the scarce resources in a sustainable way, it has become imperative and further to the Honourable Minister’s directive to request that you facilitate and complete the relocation exercise of your Corporate Headquarters to Abuja within the next 45 days in line with the earlier directive,” the ministry’s Director, Human Resources Management, Muhammad Shehu, had stated.

With this directive, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Accident Investigation Bureau, and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency are expected to relocate their Corporate Offices from Lagos State to Abuja within the given period.

Reactions have trailed this decision by the FG but commenting on Friday in a telephone conversation with The PUNCH, the ATSSSAN President said the decision would reduce the operational cost of the ministry.

He said the ministry spends a lot of money transporting Chief Executives and Directors of agencies from Lagos to Abuja for meetings every week while noting that the FG directive only ordered the relocation of the Corporate Offices of these agencies and not their operational offices scattered all over airports in the country.

Ahmadu said, “It is not a new directive. It dates back to 2012. The directive did not say they should move all infrastructure from Lagos to Abuja but it says all Corporate Offices of agencies should move to Abuja.

“I think it is for administrative convenience. If you observe the trend in the industry, the Chief Executive Officers and Directors are never in Lagos because of one meeting or the other in Abuja. Sometimes they spend three to four days in Abuja in a week. I think that is why the government said they should maintain their operational base but move their Corporate Offices. I think this will probably reduce the travel overhead of the ministry.

“I know the agencies are making efforts and building their Corporate Offices in Abuja. Some agencies have even paid some staff to relocate. I don’t think this would upset any operations in the sectors as most of the agencies already have presence and formations in all the airports in the country. If the work programmes of the agencies are well-designed, there won’t be issues.

“There is no directive for rationalisation of staff. There was no directive for anybody to be laid-off. It is very clear that the directive is for the agencies to move their Corporate Offices to Abuja.

“Regard the compliance and movement of the workforce, we expect the agencies to put in place the necessary infrastructure and pay the respective relocation allowances directly to workers pencilled to move as stated by the laws guiding the ministry.

“We’ve written to the management of these agencies to make provision of PPE for workers who are said to come to work and I’m glad that many of the agencies have done that.”

Newsmen report that President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved that the Oransanye Report should be revisited with a view of reducing and merging a number of government’s agencies.

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