Aviation workers have requested for an extension of the duration given by the Federal Government to aviation agencies to relocate their headquarters from Lagos to Abuja.

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The Federal Government had earlier ordered all aviation agencies to relocate their various headquarters to the Federal Capital Territory within 45 days.

The aviation workers under the umbrella of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers has disclosed that the duration ordered by the government was short and should be extended to about four months.

Officials at the Abuja headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Aviation revealed that the relocation directive involved four of the ministry’s agencies and two key parastatals who have their head offices already in Abuja and Kaduna.

Presently, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Accident Investigation Bureau and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency are all headquartered in Lagos.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency has its headquarters in Abuja, while the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology has its head office in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The Federal Government’s 45-day relocation directive was communicated to the agencies by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The National President, NAAPE, Abednego Galadima, have remarked that workers were not against the directive, but employees of the agencies would need enough time to comply.

He said, “The truth of the matter is that it is an order and as a union we don’t want to dabble into the propriety or otherwise of it, but what we want the government to ensure is that our members’ entitlements shall be fully paid.

“Having said that, I will like to state that we believe that the 45 days given to the agencies by the Federal Government to relocate their headquarters to Abuja is too short.”

He stated that the restriction of movement across states would make it difficult to comply with the directive, as the COVID-19 pandemic had also grounded commercial flight operations nationwide.

Galadima said, “We believe it is too short because we all know that there is restriction of movements now across the country. Interstate travels have been suspended by the federal and state governments.

“The airports have been on lockdown for over one month and there is no date yet for their reopening. And, of course, we know that these and many other measures are being put in place to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. So we will want the government to extend the notice to about 90 to 120 days.”

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The NAAPE president said he was aware that the order had earlier been issued some eight years ago to the affected agencies, but stressed that 45 days was not enough to comply.

“With such an extension, you can be sure that most of the workers will be well prepared to relocate from Lagos to Abuja as directed,” he said.

Galadima added, “This is an order that has not been implemented for over eight years or so. It was initially given in 2012 and I think that giving more days for people to prepare well and effectively relocate to the designated destination will not hurt.”

A senior official at the aviation ministry had explained that FAAN, NAMA, AIB and NCAA were agencies affected by the order, as the source explained that on paper both NCAA and AIB actually had their headquarters in the FCT.

“It is not a new directive per se. Initial directive was given in 2008, another in 2012 which were not implemented,” the official, who spoke to our correspondent in confidence, said.

The official, however, countered claims by some employees of the affected agencies that their organisations had not been mobilised to effectively relocate.