The national association of aircraft pilots and engineers (NAAPE) in Nigeria has expressed concerns to the country’s House of Representatives saying that it could undermine the autonomy of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and lead to loss of Nigeria’s ICAO category one status due to political interference.
The warning comes after the House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation asked NCAA to put on hold the issuance of an Air Operators’ Certificate, (AOC) to the Nigeria Eagle Airline.
NG Eagle is an initiative of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) which took over troubled Arik Air and is now building a new airline out of its ashes. However, Arik Air is still heavily indebted to various aviation agencies and the move by AMCON is widely viewed as a tactic to manoeuvre around the debt responsibilities
According to the president of NAAPE, Abednego Galadima, Nigeria’s forthcoming ICAO audit could be undermined by political interference
He said: “We have observed with keen interest the recent development in the industry where some people are attempting to undermine the autonomy of NCAA under the guise of association of Nigerian aviation professionals, (ANAP) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) branch of the National Union of Pensioners, (NUP), through a purported petition to the national assembly. Section 30 of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 clearly spelt out powers of the authority and empowers it to function without political interference. I quote ‘The authority is empowered to regulate aviation in Nigeria without any political interference.’”
“It is also important to bring to the fore that Nigeria will soon be facing ICAO’s audit and practices like this have the potential to make us under perform. It can also cause us to lose our category one status as a Nation.”
“Whereas we recognise the constitutional role of the legislature to oversee the agency and is well appreciated but a situation where they dictate who the authority should give an AOC or NOT give in our opinion amounts to gross political interference and this is counterproductive, it falls short of global best practices.”
Galadima also called on the NCAA to disregard the directive of the aviation Committee by concluding the AOC’s process of the NG Eagle and offered support to the NG Eagle initiative, reffering to it as a positive outcome for the aviation sector.
“We call on the director general of the NCAA to immediately conclude the process of issuing AOC to NG Eagle and grant the same because information available to us shows that they have met all the requirements as stipulated by the regulation.
“We believe that NG Eagle is a very good initiative by AMCON and deserves to be given fair deal and not these unnecessary encumbrances. As a matter of fact we want to commend AMCON for saving thousands of jobs in the aviation industry through their interventions in Arik Air and Aero Contractors Ltd and for the avoidance of doubt, we clearly support AMCON initiatives to float NG Eagle because we believe that it will further guarantee jobs for our members and create more opportunities for the teaming unemployed Pilots and Aircraft Engineers among others.”