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Professionals ask Buhari to scrap ministry




• Demands greater autonomy for NCAA 

Top aviation professionals in Nigeria’s air transport sector have called on Muhammadu Buhari’s Government to scrap the ministry of aviation and instead restore the autonomy granted to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to function as a strong regulator and government of the aviation industry as it is done in the United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK).

The professionals which comprise pilots, air traffic controllers, engineers, communication experts and airline workers, gathered in Lagos last weekend under the aegis of Aviation Round Table (ART) to review the state of the sector. Chairman of the group, Gbenga Olowo said at a period the country was faced with cash crunch, it would amounted to a waste of public funds as well as a continuous promotion of graft to run the aviation ministry as an independent establishment, noting that the bulk of the jobs done by staff of the aviation ministry could be effectively handled by NCAA which regulates the industry.

The aviation sector, they noted, centred primarily on airports as well as aircraft and airline operators and the NCAA, they insisted, as a regulatory agency, had the professionals with the requisite knowledge and qualifications to handle all the jobs that pertain to licensing, safety monitoring and economic regulations of airports and airlines.

“It serves the country and the economy no good duplicating duties between the ministry and regulatory agencies”, Olowo said. President Muhammadu Buhari, the professionals stated, should immediately merge the aviation ministry with transport with just one supervising Minister and ‘halt the duplication of duties between the Ministry of Aviation and the NCAA as well as save the nation the huge cost associated with running an independent ministry’.

The global trend, the ART said, was that ‘most nations of the world now have one unified transport ministry which allows for efficient and seamless transport policy formulation and execution’. He continued: “The ministry of aviation should be merged with the ministry of transportation. Merger of the two ministries will further give a clear focus and direction to the parastatals and departments and as against the present situation where the parastatals are seen as serving two masters”.

Olowu, a former executive director of Bellview Airline and the president of Sabre Travel Network, added: “The merger of the two ministries is the only way we can have uniformity of policies and directional implementation of transport policies as well as reduce corruption and inefficiency and a drastic reduction of waste in governance.

And Nigeria will simply be following the global trend.” “Parastatals and agencies within the ministry of Aviation should be strengthened and empowered by the various existing legislations for optimal performance”.

The professionals noted that the six agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Aviation are already independent in their functions and operations and that bringing them to align under the Ministry of Transport would be an easy job or would pose no difficulty.

The agencies are FAAN, NAMA, NCAA, NCAT, AIB and NIMET The NCAA regulates, carries out oversight functions and enforces operational standards of all Civil Aviation operations. The Nigerian College of Aviation technology (NCAT) is responsible for training and manpower development of the industry at all levels for piloting, Air traffic control, aircraft engineering etc.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) provides meteorological services not only to forecast weather for aviation industry, its services also extend to marine navigation, construction, agriculture, oil and gas industry etc, while the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) investigates all accidents and recommends measures for prevention of such occurrences in future.

The body also rejected the call for a national carrier, positing that what the nation needs now just two to three strong and competent flag carriers that will strengthen the advancement and safety of the industry.

Apart from asking the government to scrap the aviation ministry, the group also made some far-reaching suggestions. The suggestions include: That government should commercialise Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (MAMA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), merge NCAT with NCAA, AIB with FRSC (Federal Road Safety Commission) and move NiMet as a service provider to all sectors, to the Ministry of Environment.

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