Barely 10 days to the end of the current administration and less than a week for the Ministers of the Federation to hand over to Permanent Secretaries, there are strong indications that Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation may carry out reshuffle exercise in most of the agencies in the sector which may affect directors and chief executive officers.
But Aviation analyst have said that some of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) could not be removed with fait without a recourse to the Acts that set up the agencies.
Sources close to the Ministry of Aviation, however, said over the weekend that no fewer than three of the CEOs may be relieved of their appointments any moment from now, while some of the existing directors may also be affected by the impending purge.
Already, it was gathered that the CEOs were aware of the plan and are making frantic efforts to save their jobs.
It was gathered that some of the CEOs have had a frosty relationship with the minister in the last one year due to disagreements on the implementation of his roadmap projects for the sector.
Some of the agencies that may be affected by the reshuffling exercise, according to sources include the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
Apart from the CEOs, some of the current directors in all the agencies may either be relieved of their positions or redeployed to other directorates.
For instance, in FAAN, there are eight directorates; Directorate of Commercial & Business Development, Directorate of Finance and Accounts, Directorate of Engineering Services, Directorate of Security Services, Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Directorate of Human Resources & Administration, Directorate of Airport Operations and Directorate of Revenue.
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has six directorates namely; Airworthiness Standards, Operations, Licensing & Training, Aerodrome & Airspace Standard, Air Transport Regulation, Finance & Accounts and Human Resources and Administration.
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) is composed of five directorates namely; Directorate of Safety and Electronic Services, Directorate of Operations, Directorate of Human Resource/Administration, Directorate of Finance & Account and Legal Advisory.
For the NSIB, there are four directorates, which are; Directorate of Engineering, Directorate of Operations, Directorate of Human Resource & Administration and Legal Advisory.
For the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (Nimet), there are six directorates, which are Weather Forecasting Services, Applied Meteorological Services, Research and Training, Directorate of Human Resource and Administration, Directorate of Finance and Accounts, and Directorate of Engineering and Technical Services, and Directorate of Legal.
Also, the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria has about five directorates.
John Ojikutu, aviation analyst, wondered if the minister had the power to unilaterally remove any of the agencies’ heads without a recourse to the Acts that set up the parastatals.
Ojikutu specifically said that some of the CEOs are tenured and it required the approval of the President to remove them.
For instance, he said the Directors-General of NSIB, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) are tenured for five years each and it’s renewable.
Ojikutu insisted that they could only be removed by the President if they are found guilty of criminal conducts like diversion of funds and others.
He said: “Does the minister have the power to remove any of the CEOs, especially those who are tenured? Why do they want to remove them now? He can’t remove Directors-General of NCAA and NSIB because they are tenured.
They must finish their tenures before they are removed. Unless they commit a criminal offence.
“The law that appointed them specified the reasons by which they can be removed and the reasons must be well-spelt out. Also, it must be endorsed by Mr. President. However, they do some of these illegal things behind because no one has been challenging them over the years.
“The same way the government set up aviation security and armed them. Was the issue deliberated at the National Security Council (NSC)? Who among the security chiefs discussed the issue there? So, the Minister of Finance can wake up tomorrow and decide to use guns. Unfortunately, no one wants to talk about it because they are all political appointees.”
When contacted, James Odaudu, the Special Assistant to Sirika on Media, declined to comment on it.
He specifically said that he was not aware of such a move and declined to comment further.
But, another industry source who didn’t want his name in print, said the minister had the prerogative to reorganise the agencies in conformity with the Acts that set them up and the agenda of the government.
“If it is a necessity for reorganisation to take place, why not? You know that of recent, the agencies have had new Acts, which was promulgated and signed into law by Mr. President. This tends to change their former Acts.
“In the process of executing and implementing these new Acts, if it becomes necessary to reorganise or change some things, I don’t think we can hold the minister responsible, rather we should look at the new Acts,” the source said.