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Airport Remodeling Initiative Was Chop Chop Venture: Former FAAN MD

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Former Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority George Uriesi reacting to the fire incident at Owerri Airport, disclosed that airport remodeling initiative was seized from him and turned into a chop chop venture, stressing that Owerri Airport terminal was one of the urgent reasons he was fired, as its promoters were offended by his insistence in putting certain things right.

Read His Story

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. In Enugu, same thing. In Benin kpakpa, same thing. Same thing all over.

My airport remodeling initiative was seized from me and turned into a chop chop venture.

The Ministry became FAAN and relegated FAAN to the background because of an ‘uncooperative’ MD. You will be a parastatal head and be expected to just be rubber stamping nonsense imposed by venal interests sitting in Abuja. Even a consignment of fire fighting 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). The man personally came to visit me one early Sunday morning at home and offered to pay off my mortgage in America and buy me a luxury apartment in Ikoyi to keep his supplies going. I told him no! He told me I would regret it.

The day of the announcement of my sack, he was one of the first callers to gloat with his heavy accent… “George the arrogant MD, e never finish now? You thought that you will remain dia forever and be blocking peoples business. Ntooo”! This was just one of several calls and text messages insulting and mocking me.

Some people called and texted my wife. At some point, she was so depressed about it all. That’s Nigeria for you.

The vast majority of us do not know Nigeria. We have no clue… So this fire today was just a small thing.

Nothing will come out of it. No learning, no changes, nothing. Even if people died. It’s the way we are. 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.

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