NIGERIA: COVID-19 Airports Protocol and Violators

The Federal Government and Aviation regulatory agencies FAAN and NCAA on May 1, 2020 published a guideline to facilitate the re-opening of Airports for domestic flight operations. As measures to guide workers and passengers during post covid-19 pandemic flight operation, but it seems most Nigerians do not adhere to instructions and are not ready to follow laid down rules even for their own safety. The culprits this time around are Very Important Personalities (VIPs) who openly flout this orders and get away with it, instead of leading by example. In a situation where the leaders openly flout rules made by them who do we hold responsible, certainly not the ordinary citizens.

Just few days after the resumption of domestic flight some VIPs have somehow violated airport protocols set out for their safety. To mention a few of the violators is the former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who was accused of breaking COVID-19 protocols at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport Kano and assaulted an official who attempted to enforce compliance. Even though Yari had denied the allegation. Another VIP is the Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, accused of violating COVID-19 protocols at the domestic wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers State.

A more recent incident is head of the State Security Service (SSS) at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, Safiyanu Abba who was accused of assaulting a security officer at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja (NAIA) when he breached protocol.

According to FAAN’s report the SSS boss prevented security officers at the airport from performing a mandatory check on a passenger. This is the latest in a series of breaching of safety and security protocols by VIPs since the resumption of commercial flights at the Nation’s Airports.

Aviation workers under the aegis of National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), have flayed such cases of assaults and violation of safety protocol, threatening to declare culprits persona non grata at the airports. The threat was on the heels of some Very Important Persons (VIPs), among them, sitting and former governors that have been fingered for such abuses.

This level of unruly act from the VIPs is really alarming and calls for an immediate call to order. It is good to know that authorities condemn this act and are not in any way in support of it, as they call for blacklisting and a three month ban on defaulters.

National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) President, Ben Nnabue, expressed disapproval at the attitude of the VIPs. “We are compelled, therefore, to sound this note of warning to VIPs, and indeed all airport users that our union will henceforth take more than passing interest in the unruliness of any kind at Nigerian airports, especially as regards flouting of COVID-19 protocols.

The House Committee on Aviation, also condemned the act by the VIPs and said it should not be tolerated, decried that leaders should lead by example and not to be caught breaking laws. The committee particularly asked the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to bar such persons from entry.

Honourable Nnaji , Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, in his statement urged FAAN and NCAA to deny the highly placed Nigerians who refused to subject themselves to the health protocols instituted at the airports to safeguard the lives of airport workers and passengers against the deadly coronavirus future access to the airports.

He added that leaderships of the agencies should be firm, while reiterating the need for the frontline staff, especially the airport security and health officials, to be courageous in carrying out their duties to ensure that “every passenger no matter the status observes the protocols.”

“I am sure the executive and judicial arm of government are equally behind them. A lot of money has been sunk into the industry to meet the criteria in terms of protocols, trainings and materials deployment by the Airline operators and FAAN. Therefore, the government cannot tolerate any act that will rubbish the whole essence.” he said.

“I want to also assure Nigerians that we in the National Assembly have resolved to abide by the protocols and we will not allow anyone, no matter their position in the society, to unnecessarily endanger the lives of Nigerians.” Nnaji said.

We call on everyone concerned to obey these rules laid down for our own safety as we all join hands to flatten the curve.

As we support the World Health organization in the #wearamaskchallenge Remember: wash your hands regularly, use your nose mask constantly, have your sanitizers handy as you go about your activities.

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