Interview 

“I’M LEAVING BEHIND A UNITED AVSEC FAMILY” — Ogunedo

OGUNEDO edit
Sir Wendell Emeka Ogunedo Director, Security Service 19th Febuary 2009 -Till Date

AVIATIONLINE: In what year did you enter the service of FAAN?

OGUNEDO: I entered the services of the then Nigerian Airports Authority (NAA), now Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in October 1982.

AVIATIONLINE: Were you fresh from school or you had worked somewhere before?

OGUNEDO: I graduated from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in 1981. I served in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at Pankshin, Plateau State in the 1981/82 service year. Three (3) months after my NYSC I got this job with Nigerian Airport Authority, NAA on October 25th, 1982. I was in the service of FAAN from that time till I retired on April 16, 2013 at the age of 60 years.

AVIATIONLINE: What attracted you to FAAN?

OGUNEDO: As soon as I finished my NYSC I started applying for job in any establishment- NAA, Nigeria Airways, Customs, etc. NAA was the first to call me for interview. I attended, wrote the examination and was selected. Again, security was not the only department I applied for. I threw in three applications into the security, operations and commercial departments. I was looking for any job. Security came first and I accepted it. Even when the other departments advertised for employment I did not consider them. I felt security was what God wanted me to do and I accepted to do it. Twenty one (21) of us wrote the qualifying test and 13 were successful. That was how I joined Aviation Security and I remained in it until 16th April, 2013 when I bowed out.

After my retirement, April 16, 2013, I left for my village to rest. June 1st, 2013 I got an alert that I had been offered a two-year contract in the same department. I did not apply for the extension.

AVIATIONLINE: Where did you work in FAAN; that is your various places of deployment?

OGUNEDO: I worked in all departments and sections of Aviation Security Directorate while it lasted. I also had my own share of transfers, from one airport to the other. Some officers can be employed in Lagos, for 35 years they remain in Lagos without knowing what it means working outside Lagos. You cannot be said to have gained experience on the job until you have left your family for some years working without them. As for me I was recruited in Lagos AVSEC HQ from where I was transferred to Kano and then back to Lagos. From Lagos again I was moved to Jos where I spent 18 months before I came back to Lagos, at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in January 1988. I spent the next 11 years in Lagos. In June 1999 I was transferred to Maiduguri Airport. One funny thing about my transfer to Maiduguri is that I was transferred to the airport while I was on Grade Level 14, and I was posted to work under a Grade Level 10 Officer. The idea was for me to be frustrated and perhaps resign but I refused to be frustrated. For over one year in Maiduguri I never saw an aeroplane and instead of succumbing to frustration I went back to school. I applied to the University of Maiduguri and got an admission to read an MBA programme, full time. Before 2002 when I was again transferred to NnamdiAzikiwe International Airport, Abuja (NAIA) as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the airport I had finished the course at the university. I remained in NAIA till October 2005 when I was brought back to HQ in Lagos.

AVIATIONLINE: Did you have any previous experience in security?

OGUNEDO: I never had any previous experience in Aviation Security before I came to FAAN. All the training and experience I had about Aviation Security was in FAAN.

AVIATIONLINE: As a new entrant, what were the initial challenges you had and how did you overcome them?

OGUNEDO: As a new entrant the challenges I had were not much. My first degree was in UNILAG after which I went for my NYSC in Plateau State. Immediately after my service year I came back to Lagos and in few months I got this job. Besides, I had relations working in Lagos. So it wasn’t hard integrating into the hassles of life in Lagos. As soon as I got the job, I queued behind my senior colleagues and I learnt on the job.

AVIATIONLINE: Were there many female security personnel when you joined FAAN?

OGUNEDO: In the Security Department there was a reasonable number of female staff; when I joined, about a quarter of the total number. However, none was a graduate, but from the next recruitment, around 1986, the ban appeared to have been lifted and many young female graduates came in especially from the Southern part of the country. Unfortunately, the situation has remained the same because till now. Fewer females from the northern part of the country agreed to join AVSEC. This can account for why most airports in the north have very few females in the Security Department; and in fact some have none. There should be a deliberate policy to redress this imbalance especially the graduate cadre.

AVIATIONLINE: Where did you have your ab initio training as Aviation security personnel?

OGUNEDO: My first training as Aviation Security personnel was in Lagos; FAAN Training School. Then things were much better than now because it was easy to get the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) trainers from outside Nigeria to come to train in FAAN Training School. Now things are no longer the same. The system has been so much corrupted by the Ministry of Aviation. Any training schedule for, say, 10 AVSEC officers would have to be done abroad and they must include at least three numbers from the Ministry or else there won’t be approval. This has also corrupted AVSEC staff. Any training of staff locally is not appreciated except it is done abroad. Undue interference from the Ministry has dealt a deadly blow on the training of AVSEC staff in particular and FAAN as a whole. It took me about 18 years before I attended my first overseas training in Dakar, Senegal.

AVIATIONLINE : Can you still remember some of your contemporaries in FAAN?

OGUNEDO: I can remember only four (4) of these that were recruited with me, not those before me or those after me. Those I can remember include Mr PD AUTA who is a politician in Nasarawa State, Mr Kakiyes, Mr Gyang, Mr SK Mabinuori and Mr Ogbuechi, who, early enough, left for the United States of America (USA).

AVIATIONLINE: Were there times your family suffered deprivation as a result of your official engagements?

OGUNEDO: Oh, yes. As a result of frequent transfers, my family suffered lots of deprivation. Three remarkable occasions stand out in my memory.

First, in 1986 when I was transferred to Jos Airport, my family did not find it funny. Then I had a very young family. I got married in October 1983. We had our first child in 1985, and in 1986 we had my first son. The boy was only two (2) months old when the transfer to Jos came. How would I leave a two-month old baby to go to Jos or would I go with him and the mother? It wasn’t easy. I had to leave them in Lagos and went to Jos in June 1986. In March 1987 while in Jos, I was poisoned and it was announced first in MMA, Lagos that I was dead. Actually, I was to have died that night but for God’s providence. I spent 18 months in Jos before I was brought back to Lagos.

Again in 1999 I was thrown to Maiduguri Airport, Borno State. That was in the heat of the Sharia saga in Nigeria. Then there was no GSM, no reliable means of communication. Only once a week, 9.00am on Saturday, my wife would go to three streets away from where I lived, in a friend’s house, to wait for my call from the Post Office in Maiduguri. You could queue for over 30 minutes before your turn to call. To make matters worse and to ensure I was thoroughly humiliated, FAAN refused to transfer my record of service to Maiduguri Airport until after 13 months. The implication was that for 13 months I travelled to Lagos every month with the ‘Young Shall Grow’ vehicles to collect my salary so that my family could survive. It would take ‘Young Shall Grow’ 19 hours non-stop to travel from Lagos to Maiduguri and 18 hours to do Maiduguri to Lagos. On the 11th month of those trips, on our way going from Lagos to Maiduguri, at Mokwa town, around 1.00am we ran into armed robbers. But for the escorts that accompany the buses, who knowsthis story would not have been told today. Note, then there was no transfer of salary as it is today. That was a period I would hate to remember.

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