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Thursday, 20 December 2012 00:00
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Nnamdi Udoh’s 365 Days at NAMA –– A success  story

Give me a space under the sun, and I will shake the world”
This epic quote by Archimedes, the great Greek inventor, mathematician and scientific genius, offers veritable insight into the immense visionary mindset of a particularly intriguing and enigmatic creature: Mazi Nnamdi Udoh.

The difference in this regard, however consists in the fact that while the legendary Greek inventor somehow got to the extent of giving his feelings a verbal vent, Udoh, a silent visioner and man of immensely great faith, who believes in the divinely inherent triumph of the infinite power of good intention to surmount even the greatest barrier – had reposed implicit conviction in the sheer force of his visionary power and great ideas to propel and position him  to the vantage pedestal compatible with the utilization of his vast store of endowment for the beneficial service of his nation and the aviation industry, which happens to be his immediate constituency.

It also need to be noted as another area of difference, that unlike Archimedes, Udoh’s inclination makes no iota of pretence to shaking the world – but suffice for his visionary fervor, talent and endowment – and thereby affect his nation and generation; both born and yet unborn.

The logic in the fore-going consists in the fact that a safely secured airspace is the most vital component to a virile aviation industry as a whole, while a virile aviation industry, essentially offers a veritable cornerstone to national greatness and prosperity.

The veracity of the for-going is of course amply shown in the inclusion of the aviation industry as one of the most important items listed for the consummation of the transformation agenda of the President Goodluck   Jonathan administration .

This vision is being pursued vigorously by the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah with glaring results now around most of the airports in the country. 

At this stage, one might well aptly ask: but who is Nnamdi Udoh. On this, let me hasten to emphasize that you really cannot appreciate him, without understanding his journey. By this, I mean the long convoluted path to the present moment of arrival – strewn with hard toils and perspiration, and anything, but a bed of roses.

In this regard, permit me to make a copious quote from a previous article, in which I wrote that the live-wire role, historically fated by him to play in the all-important Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) project, could perhaps be grasped in vividly poignant relief, if we effectuate a further backward stretch to his era as General Manager, Surveillance and Project Management.

Those were the exacting moment of trial, when insight of his otherwise exalted placing as a substantive General Manager; he had to make do with a Portakabin for three odd years, packed with painstakingly prodigious quantum of dynamic efforts, which eventually culminated in an impressively clinical finishing.

I emphasized further: “To be sure, it was such a veritably teething phase of pioneering initiative that saw that dynamic young man, grappling with such primordial infrastructural essentials like acquisition of land for project site, with all the unwitting entanglement in crisis, associated with the sensitive, if not the incendiary volatile potential latent in matters of land acquisition.

“This sweat merchant role which saw him hopping from one field work to the other; across the federation and abroad, was apart from his main role as the major think tank of ideation, articulating the definitive road-map to the total radar coverage of Nigerian airspace – which was accomplished with remarkable clinical finesse and astounding professionalism.

‘’ As the Managing Director, today presiding over NAMA affairs, mother-fate in its inscrutable scheming on the determinate track of natural justice, has again  thrusted  on the lap of this   patriotic sweat merchant and idealized egg-head of TRACON, not only the task of consolidating and optimizing the gains of TRACON, but also positioning it towards a new millennium’’.

It was therefore no wonder that where the general mass of the people were inclined to malicious intrigues, bad blood, sectionalism and the likes, this man obsessively clutched to the superior power of the vision and ideas to which he had staked a better part of his soul essence and pursued over a better part of his lifetime – and in this vision, he derives succor and nurture; as if it was the very oxygen of his life existence.

For this vision therefore, this man of immensely patriotic fervour, was ready to concede anything in order to see it to the harbour of fulfillment. Indeed, it will be too late in the day, if not a disaster, to allow anything, no matter how dear to him, to see it derailed.

A creatively pragmatic thinker, imbued with a profoundly original mind, Udoh, a foremost exemplar of the ethical school which exalts team spirit over base sectional values, confounded all, when in a display of magnanimous broad mindedness, he exuded a masterly stroke in effective crisis management – to integrate the divergently polarized interests and tendencies, hitherto extent in the system, into an organically integrated mass of unified corporate family.

In keeping with his emphasis on man as a fundamental prime-mover, imbued with unlimited potential for dynamic change, he took his management team on a retreat, fundamentally aimed at re-orientating and attuning their attitude in a more positive sense, to work.

The retreats, which transpired at various places, namely Ijebu-Ode, Lagos and Abuja. The Abuja retreat , first in the series, was attended by that dynamic woman of  Amazonic  acclaim; in charge of the Aviation industry; Princess Stella Adaeze  Oduah  and her permanent secretary, Ann Ene-Ita.

The Abuja retreat which was highly commended by the  Minister, was organized in collaboration with Nachachi Consult, from where Sam Ikoku Jnr., son of late nationalist and politician, Chief Sam  Ikoku  of  blessed memory, came as a resource person.

The exercise as it turned out, offered a refreshingly creative insight into a variety of revenue generating avenues, which was expected to stand NAMA on a buoyant financial forting for self-reliance and excellence in its surveillance function of the nation’s territorial airspace.

In a different but equally utilitarian perspective, the retreat also contributed in no small measure, to forging a common spirit of players united towards a common goal of a virile and world class NAMA.

Salutarily, this effort paid off with a commendable new leaf of industrial harmony which has come to overwhelm the corporate environment of the agency.

The fore-going has in turn brought about a host of creative and innovatively transformational ideas which are of immensely pragmatic consequences in effectively positioning NAMA, for the challenges of the new millennium.

Coupled with this, is the accelerated tempo of progress towards project completion. A good example in this respect, is the VHF Total Radio Coverage of Nigeria which witnessed an accelerated pace of completion only few months within the inception of his tenure.

Also worthy of mention is the seriousness with which the Nnamdi Udoh – led NAMA has braced up with the AIS automation at airports across the country. In this respect, it is worthy to recall in corroboration of this fact, how during the recently celebrated World AIS Day; Mr. Paul Ighene, President of the Aeronautical Information Service Association of Nigeria (AISAN), remarked in his commendation of the incumbent NAMA boss that “over two decades now, we have been fighting for the AIS automation and we give glory to God that this present managing director has seen the AIS automation as his baby.”

While noting that it had been a difficult task working manually in bringing out flight plans over the years, especially with shortage of staff, the AISAN president expressed on an optimistic note, that this advent of the AIS automation would make the job easier for the entire technical personnel and would also be able to give real time information.

Taking a general overview of the present administration of NAMA,   Ighene described it as a team of achievers, in terms of its considerable accomplishments within a limited span of just six months – a feat which according to him, compared favourably with previous administrations.

The NAMA boss, in his characteristic zeal has also demonstrated keen interest in the completion of the Safe Power Project which has reached an advanced stage of near completion; and thus bring an end to the communication challenges in most of the nation’s airport. In addition is the planned commencement of the Area Radar Control, which has reached an advanced stage.

It was also in keeping with same ideal of a world class NAMA that Mazi Udoh organized a forum to enlighten pilots and other stakeholders on facts pertaining to the service provision capability of the agency, and also benefit from reciprocal feeding end users, especially, the pilots, on perceived areas of shortcomings, in order to improve its services.

The exercise was also expected to usher a new lease of collaborative synergy between military and civil aviation with a view to ensuring optimum security of the nation’s territorial airspace against foreign military incursion.

It becomes pertinent to emphasize in this respect, that at the forum, it was no less a personality than Group Captain John Obakpolor, a retired Air Force Officer and consummate aviation technocrat, who speaking from the position of expertise advised the military authorities, to key into the current radar system of NAMA, since the TRACON device was capable of tracking any aircraft within the country’s airspace and neighbouring countries.

With the new hi-tech TRACON regime, retired top military brass affirmed that if the Nigeria Air Force utilizes the system, it would counteract any intrusion into the country’s territorial airspace and make it possible, not only to track the plane at high altitude, but also use our jet fighters to intercept such aircraft and  that is why the Air Force should make use of NAMA radar system, by keying into it.

And in keeping with the primacy of the human element, which he holds dearly sacred, he had stepped up with religious zeal, the crucial department of worker’s welfare and training, as a foremost article of faith.

In this respect, it could be recalled that at the 2012 edition of the May Day, when he visited members of the Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) at their National Secretariat, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, he utilized the opportuned moment to reiterate the readiness of the agency under his management to garner the best trained work force relevant in today’s Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) business.

He also disclosed during the occasion that all outstanding promotions had been officially endorsed, while the issues of casualisation of workers no longer exist under his dispensation, as all employable casuals have been officially integrated into the agency.

Indeed, this claim could not have been more amply corroborated, than in the words of the ATSSSAN president, Comrade Benjamin Okewu, who remarked that the agency under Udoh’s leadership had lived above board in promoting workers’ welfare.

And in a development, which beyond any doubt, signified an official endorsement of the merit, dynamism and competence of the Udoh – led NAMA; the topmost echelon of the aviation authority severe the administration of Airfield lights, the prevention of Bird and Wild Life Hazard and Vegetation Management, from Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), to NAMA,

Similarly in the same vein of salutary expansion by added responsibility, the calibration function which hitherto was domiciled with the   NCAA, was transferred to NAMA.

While same were wont to see in this, an extra-financial burden,   Udoh’s fertile and creative acumen perceives its revenue potentials.

To affirm that NAMA in his care, has never had it so good, is certainly not an over-statement, as the pivotal air management agency, has for the first time, been able to find its rhythm. A tribute to his perspicacity, sagacity and the fecund depth of his engineering grasp and expertise. NAMA under his leadership, with 19 credible Awards for excellence within one year, sure steadies towards a new millennium.

• Supo Atobatele, is the General Manager, Public Affairs, NAMA.

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DEC122012