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NATCA cites internal politics; accuses HR as reason Nigeria lacks competent ATCs

AS Air Traffic Controllers experience a massive dearth of professionals in their field, they have accused the Human Resources department of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) of hijacking the recruitment process and employing all sorts of people not critical to safety of aircraft navigation in the airspace.

This is just as they have said that the recruitment of 40 people to work as ATCs done by that department without recourse to the directorate in charge of that department did not follow due process as the recruitment was not transparent and people were just employed, competence in doubt.

Abayomi Agoro, the President of National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) who opened up on various issues recently also decried that NAMA’s close to 4000 staff is filled with staff who draw roster to know what week they come to office showing how imbalance the system is.

Explaining the recruitment process and what actually happened with the human resource department Agoro said, “We find it so disheartening to hear that NAMA has arranged a recruitment exercise in which we as an association are not aware of it. And these are the people we want to put and train and tomorrow you want them to be our members. Why are they shielding them away from us? The recruitment of Air traffic controllers always has due process to follow.

“First of all, place an advert and when you make information go round as much as possible then people will apply, then you now go for what is called technical evaluation and other assessment and from there you select the best of them but in this case, we only heard 40 people were short listed. Who are the people? And who are the people that are supposed to be in charge of recruitment of Air Traffic Controllers? It is not the duty of NAMA HR, it is the duty of the professionals, the directorate in charge. “

“How do you expect somebody who does not know anything about a profession to now be the one to recruit, to source it, is it because now recruitment of ATC is no longer casualized? We fought, this association fought for non-casualisation of Air Traffic Controllers in 2015 and when we finally won the battle NAMA HR went ahead and hijacked the whole process. So that today they do all kinds of things and go and meet people in Abuja, they have a space to employ people and they do all kinds of things and it is very dangerous to safety.”

“The issue is that the recruitment is not transparent and does not follow due process and moreover let me also say, the number of air traffic controllers we need to shore up the gap is not that 40, if they really want to address that it should be a nationwide thing, for now the number of ATCs we have is far less than 400 and by this year to next year quite a number of our senior ATC will be retiring.”

Agoro further agonized the treatment of ATCs with regards stagnation stating that at a point because of death of manpower they tried to do internal recruitment to see whether they can bring some redundant staff and train them to help the system but stated that that was botched by HR.

“Many of them seven, eight years they’ve been in one place which is a great discouragement to others who would want to, and what is NAMA HR trying to do? They are asking who asked you to convert and go there. They are now our members but many of them are regretting, is that how an organization should be? And people come to work day in day out doing nothing and after sitting down they are paid.”

“They have brought so many people in the agency who are not meaningfully engaged all they just do is to sit down and we are talking about a critical area where we have gap. I paid courtesy visit to the minister and he said he would not support us looking for contract staff because as you know some of our staff do come back on contract that we can try and engage the younger ones. We said yes the association prefers that because NAMA will train them and they will have a long working span, Only for us to now hear this 40. It’s shameful.”

 

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