Strife, in-fighting and internal jostling for the top seat of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is the reason that have brought the agency into public scrutiny in the last one week following allegation of fraud levelled against some of its top management staff
According to sources within the agency, the ongoing investigation of the top officers including the Managing Director, Engr. Ibrahim Abdulsalam over alleged fraud by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is not unconnected with in house power tussle that has silently been rocking the agency for some years.
They also said that the petition that led to the anti-graft commission questioning of the top management staff was generated in-house by a faction which had severally attempted to remove some key management staff via industrial actions but failed.
A source that spoke to NFD said,” But they could not have their way because their plots were always nipped in the bud. The cabal is made up of professionals who are bent on having their member on the highest seat of the agency’s boardroom. They have severally failed because each time they threatened to go on strike and throw the nation into confusion knowing that their action is capable of disrupting air safety, the managing director ensures that their demands are met to the detriment of other equally sensitive departments.”
“They are the highest paid in NAMA, yet they always look for a way of causing crisis. Now that they have come out with new strategy acting in concert with a particular officer formerly in the procurement department and alleged to have connection with some powerful people,” the source explained.
It was gathered that the officer had been eyeing the seat of the managing director after he failed to get an appointment as an aide to one of Buhari’s ministers. Sources said that the officer was seen jubilating when the management staff were invited for questioning, telling members of his gang that they should be ready to take over “the rule of the agency.
As if in silent corroboration of what is happening in NAMA, various bodies have come out to start seeking the replacement of the MD with either a new substantive professional or someone of the same calibre in an acting capacity.
All this going down after the agency just happened to have had two acting managing directors in less than a week.
First, on February 20, 2016, a coalition comprised of Aviation Union and Professional association have called for the appointment of a substantive Managing Director for the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to address what is looking like looming unrest that, if unchecked, may derail the agency and truncate safety,
The group in a statement signed by its spokesman, Johnson Agbede and made available to the media stated that if urgent steps are not taken to normalise the situation things could go from bad to worse as workers in the agency do not know whom to take directive from.
A day later, the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) also threw its weight behind the call citing professional reasons, they said that government should hasten the ongoing investigation of the agency and appointment of a substantive Managing Director or immediately appoint in acting capacity, a competent person equally qualified to be appointed as Managing Director
This they posited is in accordance with the provision of NAMA Establishment Act No.48 Part IV section 8 subsection 2(d) of 1999 (a person who possesses relevant and adequate professional qualifications in a senior management cadre and shall have been so qualified for a period of not less than fifteen years.).”
According to a statement signed by NATCA President, Victor Eyaru and the general Secretary, Olawode Banji read, “Due to the sensitivity and peculiarity of NAMA as an Air Navigation Service Provider, pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigations or appointment of a substantive Managing Director, the Federal government should immediately appoint, in acting capacity, a competent person equally qualified to be appointed as Managing Director in accordance with the provision of NAMA Establishment Act No.48 Part IV section 8 subsection 2(d) of 1999 (a person who possesses relevant and adequate professional qualifications in a senior management cadre and shall have been so qualified for a period of not less than fifteen years.).”
“This is to stem the ongoing leadership crisis due to appointment of two persons as Acting Managing Director within a week and in the interest of air safety. NAMA is a very strategic agency that should not be headed by anyone without both technical knowledge and proven administrative expertise in Air Navigation Service Provision (ANSP) under whatever circumstance to avoid any costly decision that could compromise air safety and spell disaster for the whole country; “this was their stand coupled with professional requests.
However, our source claimed that some disgruntled misfits in the agency has turned the situation into a media war as they have engaged consultants to spread falsehood and mischief though cooked documents were being circulated to the press for media trial.
“It is unfortunate that we have this situation in NAMA. We are not saying the agency is a place of saints but what we are saying is that the managing director and some of the officers in the management cadre had done a lot for the organisation in terms of development,” another staff pointed out
The concerned staff noted that the managing director for instance had since assuming office, conserved funds for project development by curbing wastage. If he is a greedy type he would have made money from the areas where he ensured that there was no unnecessary spending. For instance, he ensured that the Airfield lighting project was returned to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria to reduce the spending of the agency.
Engr. Abdulsalam who was described as being modest and prudent in spending not to jeopardise staff welfare was said to have saved over 300,000 Euros for the nation from the maintenance of TRACON by deploying NAMA engineers to handle radar maintenance last year alone. The federal government had hitherto spent a whooping two million naira annually on same in four years.
“In NAMA, due process is highly respected in the award of contracts. The managing director is one of the most prudent managers the agency has had so far. He campaigns seriously for documentation of contracts and finances each time there is a management meeting. So we are surprised to hear that the EFCC invited him for questioning over alleged fraud.
Meanwhile the minister of transport was said to have met with some top officials of the agency last week during which he urged the staff to remain calm. Staff who spoke were also surprised that the minister was not taken into confidence by the anti-graft commission before swinging into action.