ART berates Minister over aviation safety woes

The Aviation Safety Roundtable (ART) considers the last-minute activities of the Minister of Aviation as capricious, despicable, and unwarranted in the twilight of the Buhari administration.

The ART condemns the change of name of the Federal Ministry of Aviation to that of the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace purportedly approved by the outgoing Federal Executive Council.

The ART is convinced that the annexation of the underfunded National Aerospace Research Development Agency (NASRDA) into the Ministry of Aviation would impede the appreciable progress so far made by NASRDA under its parent ministry – the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika

The group in a statement said, “We further opine that the Centre for Space Transportation and Propulsion whose activities include the sustenance of rapid advances in the propulsion systems and rocket science should not be impeded by the Ministry of Aviation’s terrestrial operations”.

Spokesman for ART, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo noted that the deliberate attempt to muster the NASRDA under a Ministry that the Minister of Aviation is about to leave only creates organizational confusion for the incoming administration.

The ART was of the view that the Aviation Ministry is already under stress with the existing workload and the departure of capable hands, that it is not equipped to handle the additional function of Space Research and Administration.

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The ART believes that the nation would benefit tremendously if the Nigerian airspace agency remains an independent but properly funded organization with the inclusion of the Minister of Aviation or his representative on its governing Board alongside other ministerial appointees as provided in Section 2 of the NASRDA Act.

The ART could have rated the tenure of the outgoing Minister a total failure but for the fact that he did appoint capable and qualified individuals to run the various departments and agencies under him. These astute professionals in our view discharged their duties creditably well in spite of the Ministerial bottlenecks placed on their paths.

“For eight solid years, the Minister of Aviation appropriated the required governance structure under his personal control by neglecting to appoint the statutory governing Boards required to ease the functions of the agencies and parastatals under him.

“The ART is of the opinion that this amongst other actions taken by the Minister regressed rather than grown the organizations. The Minister’s direct control resulted in transactional rather than functional operation of the agencies, thereby impeding their progress and his rating.

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“The Minister through his micromanagement activities has further demonstrated the need to scrap the Ministry of Aviation and place the various departments with proper governance structures back in the Ministry of Transport while granting independence to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under the appropriate internationally recognized structures for regulating the Nigerian aviation sector to achieve global best practices. Nigerian aviation requires strong institutions with solid processes and systems rather than strongmen”.

The ART equally frowned at any decision of the Minister to appoint a new Director General,  Managing Directors, or Directors with barely ten days to the eve of the new administration, thereby foreclosing the opportunity for new presidential appointees that will be more suited to the agenda of the incoming administration.

Ohunayo was of the view that a more appropriate action would have been to nominate a new candidate for appointment by the incoming Minister and there is nothing wrong in extending for a further 30 days, the term of the existing Managing Director and Directors on a transitional basis, to enable the new administration pick the men/ woman to driver their agenda.

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Aviation is such that once the airplanes lose the officers in the left seat, the officers in the right seat cannot simply take over without the required experience and authorisation.

He explained that his group remains skeptical of the purported airport concession programme under this Minister and cautions the new administration to take steps to immediately redress the issues.

“Nigerian airports are worth more than giveaways to friends and cronies. So also is the identified need for a national carrier which ART is of the view that it should not be done at the expense of our collective benefit and joy. Nigeria Air with the word Nigeria is more than a mere word to patriotic Nigerians. We sing it daily that the labour of our heroes’ past shall never be in vain, we are a nation not to be subjugated. Ours is to build a great nation where we attain lofty heights where peace and justice shall reign.

Wole Shadare