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The submission of the Steve Oronsaye report to the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha last week Friday is beginning to unsettle nerves in the nation’s aviation industry.
Not a few thought that the Federal Government had jettisoned the controversial decision to merge many of the Ministry, Department, or Agency (MDAs) to save costs.
The Oronsaye committee last year made recommendations in its report that many government agencies, ministries, and departments serve as duplications of offices, recommending that many of them should be merged.
Similarly, the committee recommended that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) be merged into a body known as Federal Civil Aviation Authority, saying this could save the government over N97.9bn.
The committee recommended that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) be fully privatized, hinting that this would save Nigeria at least N93.5bn in recurrent and capital expenditure going by FAAN’s 2022 budget.
However, some top officials who spoke to Aviation Metric under strict condition of anonymity because of fear of reprimand said the decision would bring back the sector to the old days when aircraft were falling from the sky because of regulatory overlaps with other bodies fused together with an agency that should have been saddled with just regulatory oversight.
Some stakeholders spoke in a similar vein, saying what the Federal Government intends to save by merging the agencies, it would lose enormously with the dwindling fortune of the sector after the merger and going against international aviation bodies which saw the need to separate aviation regulation from service provision.
This is coming amid the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the report of Steve Oronsaye Committee report.
One of them said, “I don’t know why other aviation stakeholders and aviation professionals are not talking particularly pilots, air traffic controllers, and aircraft safety engineers. Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA) was tried as both service provider and regular in the early 1990s, and it was a disaster.”
“The negative effects of that faulty decision manifested in 2004-2006 when airplanes started dropping out of the sky due to weak and ineffective regulatory activities over the airline operators. The airlines became self-regulated. It was a disaster which must not be allowed to repeat itself”.
They called on the Federal Government to save the aviation industry by strengthening and empowering NCAA and not burying it and replacing it with potential air disasters.
They argued against the merger plan on the premise that it negated the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which prescribed the separation of the operations of service providers from that of a regulator.
In this situation, merging NCAA, the country’s regulatory body with NAMA and NiMET, service providers will lead to a conflict of duties and subsequently create a dangerous lacuna in the running of aviation policies. In other words, since the separation of provision from regulation is in consonance with the principles of good governance, the oversight function of the NCAA must be seen as independent and transparent.
The Oronsaye committee was constituted in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to prune down what was called the bloated number of government agencies and parastatals and to seek ways of cutting the cost of governance in the country.
After several deliberations, the committee came up with an 800-page report, recommending the abolishment and merging of 102 government agencies and parastatals.