Outrage as Senate directs NCAA to halt NG Eagle certificate processes

  • Experts chide lawmakers, warn of consequences

 

 

Amid public outcry over threat to undermine the independence of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) by the House of Representatives by directing the aviation regulatory body to withhold the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of NG Eagle, the Senate has equally mandated the NCAA to suspend the issuance of AOC to the soon-to-be-airline over protracted labor-related issues with Ari Air workers.

The Senate Committee on Aviation on Thursday joined its counterpart at the House of Representatives to direct the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to stop forthwith, the issuance of Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to NG Eagle, an airline being muted by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

A letter signed by the chairman of the committee, Senator Smart Adeyemi, to the NCAA on October 11, 2021,  made reference to a joint petition to the Senate by the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals and National Union of Pensioners, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) branch, challenging the issuance of the AOC over huge debts to FAAN.

“The petition categorically stipulated that the application for AOC is unrealistic and unfeasible as the debt profile of Arik Air which is presently under receivership by AMCON is enormous. Therefore, the notion that AOC be granted to NG Eagle while it uses Arik Air aircraft which accounts for part of the assets of Arik Air will invariably undermine the receivership.

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“Having carefully considered the submission by the unions, the Senate Committee on Aviation in consonance with the House Committee on Aviation hereby directs you to immediately suspend the issuance of AOC to NG Eagle. The essence of this suspension is to enable the committee and relevant authorities to carry out a thorough investigation on all allegations leveled by the unions in the petition. The Committee expects full compliance with this directive until a workable resolution is achieved”, the letter reads.

 

National Assembly, Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, had last week, directed also the NCAA  not to issue Air Operators’ Certificate, (AOC) to the Nigeria Eagle Airline being midwife by the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).

The Committee gave the directive in Abuja following a petition jointly addressed to the Chairman, Nnolim Nnaji by the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, (ANAP) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) branch of the National Union of Pensioners, (NUP), over debt issues.

But the Aviation Round Table (ART), condemned the interference by the House of Representatives in the issues involving the issuance of the Air Operator’s Certificate to NG Eagle by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)

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In a statement signed by Olumide Ohunayo for ART, the pressure group noted with dismay how in the past, the lawmakers had interfered in the affairs and duties of the NCAA, saying such undermines and whittle the powers granted to the NCAA.

The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), had on Wednesday, called on the Presidency to intervene in the crisis brewing from non-issuance of Air Operator’s Certificate to NG Eagle, the airline being planned by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), saying only this will avert the crisis that could eventually affect the sector, especially the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

It particularly called on the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Chief of Staff to the President (CoS) to urgently intervene in these matters and facilitate an immediate cease-fire and chart a path to progress on the sensitive issues.

Former Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi expressed disappointment with pronouncements coming from the National Assembly, describing it as a gross undermining of NCAA’s regulatory functions.

Sanusi stated that pronouncement like the one coming from politicians could cast aspersions on the credibility of the aviation regulatory body, NCAA if the NCAA goes on to be guided by the utterances on AOC certification which he described as a technical area that the House of Representatives does not know how it works.

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Soon to be floated NG Eagle Airline

Sanusi further noted that the country could fritter away the gains of the past few years by the NCAA and by extension those made by the incumbent Director-General, Capt. Musa Nuhu, as the sector could witness interference of the past from politicians to influence technical decisions of the NCAA.

His words: “I find it painful and saddening what I heard concerning the House of Representatives. Outsiders are seeing us and we should not give them the impression that the NCAA is dictated to on how it should issue AOC. We should equally be mindful of the dangers of allowing the NCAA to be dictated to.

“The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu is highly experienced. He can’t be pushed around. We should have gone past some of these pronouncements. It is very unfortunate,” he added.

Wole Shadare