By : CHUKWUMA BLAISE CHINEMELUM
I start this article by saying “how you present yourself, is how people will first view you, What are you showcasing Nigeria?
The aviation sector is a key sector of every nation. It serves as the busiest route through which investors come into a country.
Internationals,diplomats and tourists consider this industry as the first and most convenient to navigate into their countries of choice.
An international airport is more than a travel terminal for passengers who are either visiting a country or transiting it. As a veritable gateway, it is akin to a billboard: for a people, their culture and society, While an unwelcoming airport depicts an unwelcoming country, a friendly airport portrays a welcoming country. An airport which is characterised by malfunctioning systems, no signs of directions leading to various part within and outside the airports, facilities and a disagreeable atmosphere conveys the impression of a country unable to maintain standards, a country unready to conform to the demands of modernity.
Nigeria’s airports have not always received the best of publicity especially in recent years with the controversies over facilities and service quality (Guide to Sleeping in Airports.net, 2014; The Guardian, 2015).
A country with a population of about 200million citizens like Nigeria, the aviation industry play critical role in attracting investments and developments, while serving a route for seamless movement of its citizens across and within the country, hence it is expected that this airports should be in a world class standard.
Nigeria has 31 airports that houses several airlines . About 26 of these airports are being managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) with just 5 of them as functional international airports and this airports serve as are a gateway and first impression a visitor has about the nation.
Nigeria’s international airports have attained a somewhat poor reputation in regard to service quality. At the largest and busiest of them all, the Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LMMIA), and the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja, the authorities have been taking action to expand and improve facilities, just as in the country’s other airports. However, the results achieved have obviously been unsatisfactory given persistent passenger complaints and low assessments recurrently centered upon the indices of corruption, crowding, chaos, *Lack of proper directions * confusion and cleanliness.
This is due to the fact that adequate and determined attention has not been given to quality service delivery, the result of a low managerial capacity and an inappropriate, bureaucratic management model which has failed to deploy modern business techniques as well as appreciate the importance of the human element in that particular environment.
During a verbal questionnaire with an European who visited Nigeria, he was appalled by the state of infrastructure and lack of directions at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in recounting his ordeal he told me how he couldn’t locate his way out of the airport because their was no signs and directions leading passengers from terminal around the airport, also directions on where to get bus, taxi or train to your destination from the airport. This basic things are critical for airport proper functionality and easy movement, He narrated a scenario where an airline staff asked him to pay so that his baggage will get to him faster that it ought to. At this point he already had a clue what to expect in the society, this cases created a negative impact in the minds of this visitor and gave out bad impression about manners and organization of the country. It portrayed corruption, and chaos.
Problems of corrupt practices emanate from the demand for bribes by government agencies and uniformed personnel charged with either the provision of security or the processing of air travelers.
Note that chaos,confusion and crowding arise from management shortcomings. Directions, signs and processing procedures are unclear; personnel from the various agencies are often found milling about and interfering in areas outside their purview. Poor organization leads to crowds of passengers and hangers-on as officials do not operate in an orderly fashion and regularly disregard their own rules. There is also chaos, crowding and confusion at the exit point, pick-up area and car park where car hire operators congregate and noisily position themselves for advantage and thrusting business cards in the faces of exiting travelers.
All these reflect how Nigeria as a society is organized. It portrays the organization of humans and businesses in Nigeria and leaves visitors with a single story of chaos,corruption and confusion in the system.
I end with saying that you rarely get second chance to make a good impression, and for Nigeria to start changing the narrative about them the change begins from the airports.