Ex-FAAN MD blames politicians for poor state of airports

A former Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, George Uriesi, has blamed some politicians for the infrastructural decay currently bedeviling most of the airports in the country.

Uriesi who was FAAN’s MD between 2011 and 2014 disclosed this on Thursday while reacting to the fire incident that engulfed the major administrative building of the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, Imo State on Monday.

“I don dey take style resign from “I told you so”! So no gloating for me. It’s sadness instead. I fought with both the designer of the terminal and the contractor. They were surrogates of the big guys of Owerri and Abuja. This terminal was one of the urgent reasons why I was fired. Its promoters were damn too offended by my insistence on certain things being done.”

He said similar thing happen in Enugu and Benin where his remodeling initiative was seized by politicians and turned into a chop chop venture.

Uriesi, who at time was the General Manager of Cape Town International Airport and later Executive Director of the Airports Company of South Africa said things were so bad at the time that the ministry hijacked the functions of FAAN to awards aviation equipment contracts.

“Even a consignment of firefighting foam delivered by a contractor (a big guy from the East) that I insisted to test and found that it hardly even touched the fire and rejected it, caused me unimaginable trouble in Abuja. When they summoned me, I told them I tested the foam and it wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. That it could be any of them, including even the Prez on a stricken flight landing in Lagos and we would attempt to fight the fire with this useless foam.

“Who would take the can? They or me? I said no, the foam must go. They did everything to intimidate me to accept the consignment. It was worth N150m ($1m at the time). They even said “ok just use it for training”. I refused. Made very big enemies up to the Villa. This particular guy had been supplying foam to several airports for years. For this, I cancelled his contract (among very many others that I cancelled and made me a highly controversial MD).

According to him, the fire incident at Owerri would be swept under the carpet with no tangible solution of preventing future occurrences

“That’s why the fact that people are being killed all over the country isn’t an issue and the ineffective security leaders remain in their jobs ad infinitum. But once one of them questions the ‘system’ they will be out pronto! All of you should be prepared for the time you will spend in the Nigerian government, because definitely some of us will spend time up there. Let’s see how we will fare…” he said.