Nigeria and Britain have signed a pact on aviation security and training, as part of efforts to deepen capacity and professionalism in the critical service area.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma, on behalf of Nigeria, while United Nations Counter terrorism trainer, Emma Watson, and Kenan Wood from the British High Commission represented the British Government.
The parties put pen to paper recently at the official opening of FAAN's Aviation Security Training Centre (ASTC) in Lagos.
In a related development, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), has endorsed FAAN's training centre as of standard and adopted it as ICAO's Aviation Security Training Centre for West and Central African region.
Managing Director of FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, said the certification was another feat and a vote of confidence in the regulatory body, to build capacity in aviation security for Nigerians and neighbouring countries.
Dunoma noted that the school, erstwhile FAAN's internal training centre, has become an international centre of excellence in aviation security and its professional courses.
"The biggest advantage is that we can now train our people in large number but at cheaper cost. Same for our West and Central African neighbours that can now come here instead of going to Europe and America," Dunoma said.
Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Usman Mukhtar, said ICAO's endorsement of the centre was after a successful evaluation process, which proved that FAAN aviation training school was ready to contribute to the ICAO global aviation security training programme.
FAAN had requested for the designation of its AVSEC Training School as ICAO ASTC on the June 8, 2017, after which an evaluation was conducted in May 2018, by the Regional Security officer for the Western and Central office (WACAG). Under 24 months the request was granted.
Mukhtar added that there are five certified ICAO AVSEC instructors in Nigeria, and over 60 qualified national AVSEC instructors that can be of service at the ASTC.
"It is hoped that the designation will attract patronage from airport communities of West and Central African region and its environs, thereby contributing to the improvement of aviation security training in the region and elsewhere," he said.
ICAO Regional Director, Mam Sait Jallow, said with the recognition of Nigeria's ASTC, the network of ASTC has increased substantially and is widely distributed in all ICAO regions to provide aviation security training.
"With the recognition of the ASTC of Nigeria, the network of aviation security trading centres (ASTC) now includes 35 centres widely distributed in all ICAO regions, to provide aviation security training at the international, regional and national levels to all categories of personnel involved or responsible for implementation of security measures, policies and procedures, in accordance with its strategic objectives to improve the level of implementation of Annex 17 Standards.
"The certificate of recognition issued by ICAO to the ASTC of Nigeria means that it has been duly demonstrated that the Centre meets the general and specific requirements in this respect, and that is able to continue to meet such requirement during the period of validity of the certificate of recognition.
"Maintaining the certificate, therefore, requires all stakeholders to redouble their efforts through the implementation of a coherent and comprehensive monitoring programme," Jallow said.
Meanwhile, in a bid to encourage improved access to funding of contracts, especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), FAAN has hosted contractors and commercial banks to a collaborative forum.
At an event in Lagos recently, Dunoma, who was represented by the Director of Engineering, Nurudeen Daura, said the forum was aimed at developing a financing mechanism, to optimise the cash flow of FAAN, while also providing the much needed support to our contractors, to enable them access opportunities for working capital enhancement.
He said: "The scope involves working with selected financial institutions, in order to provide liquidity to our major contractors through direct and contingent funding."