Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Honourable Minister of Aviation - Mrs Fidelia Njeze

Dear Hon Minister,

I want to congratulate you on your recent appointment and assumption of office as the Honorable Minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

There is no doubt that having served the country twice as a Minister of State,your elevation as a full minister in a strategic ministry such as Aviation is well deserved and your former experience in those former capacities should come to play in your efficient management of the Aviation Ministry.

Knowing fully well that you have barely less than a year to hold forth as Minister, I would like to use this medium to advise you on areas of quick wins where you can easily excel in the aviation industry particularly with reference to our airports especially the flagship which is MURTALA MOHAMMED INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT which subsequently in this write up would be referred to as MMIA.I am using this airport as a reference because i live in Lagos and i want to believe its the most used airport in Nigeria.

I had an intention of writing this piece earlier when i heard of your nomination and before you would have embarked on physical inspection of our airports but the demand on my time prevented me. But before i could say jack,i saw video clips of your visit to the MMIA,Lagos.

As with other visits by past aviation ministers,I am not sure the retinue of eye service civil servants who followed you on that trip and particularly those who took you round the airport showed you the key areas of concern which i would mention shortly.


It may interest you to know that the present state of this toilet is awful,highly embarrassing and a disgrace to an international airport of the status of MMIA.This was also the case at Calabar airport when i had to borrow a phone with a torch from a fellow passenger in order to use the popular Calabar airports departure halls toilet.Please kind direct whoever is in charge to quickly make sure all the available toilets have functional water closet system with water running 24 hours daily, with the skilled cleaning personnel on ground to make the toilets usable.Also adequate supply of toiletries like tissues,liquid hand wash and hand dryer should be made available at all times.I have know doubt that you are well traveled and must have had cause to use the restrooms in those airports you might have had cause to travel through,you will bare me witness that one could be tempted to even eat in those toilets due to the state of their cleanliness.Provision of bathrooms too might not be a luxury.


It may interest you to know that this is barely audible as a potential passenger might have to strain his or her ear in order to hear his or her boarding/arrival announcement.Kindly ensure the PA system of the entire airport is replaced so that one can from a distance hear clearly any announcement made on the PA from any of the interior part of the airport.


I guess you might not have noticed this since you most likely use the VIP lounge of the airport whenever you have cause to travel out of the country.Each time i arrive this country,i always end up sweating like a xmas goat because of the non availability of functional AC system.Kindly ensure that the replacement or renovation of the AC system in the above mentioned and other affected areas in the airports in Nigeria are given to competent hands to manage.


Kindly ensure the provision of more seats in the departure hall as passengers and their genuine relatives have to stand up and of course Nigerai airport is the only airport i have seen in the few places that i have traveled to where relatives or anyone accompaning you is barred from entering the departure hall.


Another area of quick win you might have to work on is in the area of excellent customer service by your various airport personnel.Most of the time,these category of staff are busy looking for one form of gratification or the other instead of carrying out their jobs.An example is the Abdulmutallab case in which non of the personnel on duty could even detect the circumstances surrounding the young boy e.g. no luggage,place and urgency of purchase of ticket,lack of proper security screening as most times security personnel are praising you in order to get some cash from you.All staff at the airports must be trained and retrained on how to provide excellent customer service for passengers and visitors to the airports.A clear example of this is available at Heathtrow T5,UK and Singapore International airports where you staff on ground who are in charge of customer service.

The level of service provided by the various airlines in Nigeria is different from what is available in their different home countries.For example,the quality of service provided by Emirates Airline or British Airways in Nigeria is quite different from what obtains in U.A.E or the United Kingdom.The way customers are treated with impunity calls for concern.Right from ticket purchase,information dissemination and boarding,service to customers is quite poor and most Nigerians are treated in dehumanizing ways that calls for questioning .Please hold a meeting with these airlines telling them to henceforth treat Nigerians well or forget their business in Nigeria.Please also equip your Customer protection unit at the various airports to be able to defend the rights of travelers.A recent example was the case of a first class passenger on a South African Airways flight who was asked to vacate his seat for a white passenger who mustt ravel with his fellow colleagues.He eventually had to leave the said flight in anger after suffering humiliation right on the soil of Nigeria.I heard they have apologized but the deed had already been done and several of this type of cases still abound on a daily basis.


Surfacing/tarring of roads in the car park and provision of functional toilets too are required.


A ready way of not doing all i have mentioned above is for advisers and staff to say there is no fund available or that it was not budgeted for.i would like to advise that you look into the amount of money generated at the Lagos airport toll gate and car park.This amount of money if properly monitored and accounted for would be able to solve most of the problems mentioned above.Please ensure the amount of internally generated fund at the various airports in Nigeria are properly accounted for.

If the MMIA could be this bad,i am afraid of the status of other airports in the country. I'm available for clarification on my email:


Oladapo Kolawole
Lagos, Nigeria



Well, I can't pretend, so let me confess, I shook my head and sighed a lot as I read this. I don't think I can add anything useful to this, but it would be nice if the recommendations were taken up immediately.

Anonymous said...

I can't add much too but as my heart bled as i read through and wished and longed for the day things will work well in our dear country. My advice is the recommendations be upheld and implemented cos the state of MMIA is disgraceful.

Parag said...

If the state of Murtala Muhammed Airport is so disgraceful, then the aviation minister must take into account these recommendations and help improve services at the airport.