Unions in the aviation industry have decided that they would use glaring facts to convince government that the current road it’s taking in the aviation industry will lead down a path of utter destruction of over 14 years of tireless work.
The unions, the Air Transport Services senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) along with the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) as well as the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) held a joint conference where they pointed out how the move will implode all the works, if perpetuated.
According to the unions, represented by the ATSSSAN National President, Comrade Benjamin Okewu, NUATE National President, Mohammed Sufianu and the NAAPE Secretary, Ochemba Abba, the Oronsanya industry has done its job and if anyone in the industry accented to committees findings they were the wrong people.
|•National President of Air Transport Senior staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN)Comrade Benjamin Okewu,(Middle) flanked by (National Association of Air Transport Unions (NUATE) National President, Mohammed Sufianu(Right) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers NAAPE Secretary, Ochemba Abba(Left).
The union said that it will be writing letters to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) President who incidentally is a Nigerian to use his good office to explain to government how wrong it is to retract itself from international conventions which it is signatory to.
Further, the Unions wonder why such a draw-back decision would be taken by the federal government when the government is fully aware that Nigeria overwhelmingly enjoyed the support of the world during the last ICAO Council elections that produced Dr. Bernard Aliu, a Nigerian and the first black man as president of the council of ICAO.
The unions further surmised that Dr. Aliu is occupying that office for two main reasons: the first being that he merits it because of his outstanding contribution to the successes and accomplishments of ICAO under the tenure of the outgone president of the ICAO council Dr. Roberto Gonzales, who personally endorsed Dr. Aliu’s candidacy and worked hard to ensure his success during the election and secondly because nigeria as a member state had won the confidence of ICAO through its institutionalisation of civil aviation support structures and progressive compliance with standards and recommended practices of ICAO over the years.
The national Vice President of ATSSSAN, Comrade Illitrus who went further to explain the country’s situation said that it was disheartening that a Nigerian was the President of ICAO after so much drive and hard work to get there and that the country is rubbing off negatively on him.
According to him, how will Nigeria be flouting the rules where one of its own was the head knowing fully well that he got there by merit and by the fact that the country worked so hard to go through all these international certifications and scale through especially the FAA Audit that is higher than the standard set by ICAO all for safety.
“The union is privy to the information that the current Nigerian model and structure of civil aviation which separated regulatory oversight functions from accident investigation and the provision of civil aviation services functions is being recommended by ICAO and the United States FAA to several African states. “
“The union strongly supports the current model that makes for the autonomy and independence of the NCAA and feels it should not in any way be diluted, as doing so will attract dire consequences from ICAO and FAA .
“May we remind further that as a fallout of the ICAO audit of Nigeria in 2006 and the findings of the FAA within the same period, which raised certain concerns about the autonomy of the NCAA with respect to its powers to promulgate and implement safety regulations effectively, the late President Umaru Yar’adua signed and transmitted to the united state FAA through the office of the president of the united states, an undertaking that the NCAA is autonomous and will remain so. “
“The said letter also assured the FAA that Nigeria had commenced the review of all civil aviation laws to eliminate all aspect of the laws that conflict with the autonomy and powers of the NCAA. as at the time of this press release, the draft amendments to the establishments acts of all the aviation parastatals is being finalised to be forwarded to the national assembly in line with the referenced undertaking. “
The union expressed its thoughts that rather than merge the NCAA with NAMA and NIMET, the NCAA should be repositioned and given the support (free of all political interferences) by the federal government to achieve it’s mandate of making civil aviation safer in Nigeria.
“In the same vain, the union also believes that the Nigerian airspace management agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian meteorological agency (NIMET) should be strengthened to continue to render effective air navigation services and accurate weather forecast respectively for the safe take-off and landing of aircraft in Nigeria. “
“We have yet see any sound reason being canvassed for the merger of even NAMA with NIMET because; aside civil aviation, NIMET provides services to the maritime sector, agricultural sector, mining and construction sectors, which are outside the province of civil aviation.”
“It would appear that the government merely swallowed the Orosanye report without doing any technical review to ascertain the appropriateness or otherwise of the recommendation relating to the referenced merger. “
The body further reminded federal government that before the creation of NIMASAout of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), both regulatory and port services functions were carried out by the latter.
However, in line with the standards and recommendation of the international maritime organisation to member states, to separate maritime regulatory functions from maritime services provider functions, the government established nimasa out of the npa, as a separate entity to regulate the maritime sector in Nigeria.
“This is the current world order as regards regulatory systems be it in the telecommunication sector (NCC), health sector (NAFDAC), power sector (NERC) or the banking sector (CBN) the case of civil aviation regulatory system should not be different in light of the above reasons.”
The Unions in the aviation industry who have unanimously agreed that the planned merger of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to form Federal Civil Aviation Authority is a violation of Articles 37 and 38 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) are prepared to go all the stretch and use facts to prove their point.
Article 37 states: “Each contracting State undertakes to collaborate in securing the highest practicable degree of uniformity in regulations, standards, procedures, and organization in relation to aircraft, personnel, airways and auxiliary services in all matters in which such uniformity will facilitate and improve air navigation.”
Article 38 states: “Any State which finds it impracticable to comply with any such international standard procedure, or to bring its own regulations or procedure into full accord with any international standard or procedure after the amendment of the latter or which deems it necessary to adopt regulations or practices differing in any particular respect from those established by an international standard, shall give immediate notification to ICAO of the differences between its own practice and that established by the international standard.
The president of NUATE, Mr. Mohammed Safiyanu, who spoke at the media briefing, said critical stakeholders in the aviation sector were not consulted before the merger decision was taken.
“If indeed they consulted, they consulted with the wrong people. Aviation is internationally regulated and Nigeria is a contracting state. There are guiding rules that regulates ICAO and contracting states. There is the article 37 that talks about compliance to international standards and recommended practices. If any contracting state finds it necessary to deviate from the rules, Article 38 has laid down the procedure on how to go about it. One of the condition is that you will inform ICAO about your decisions and why. ICAO also notes that whatever decision a member country is taking must not compromise safety of the aviation industry. The announcement by the FG on the merger is a complete negation of ICAO rules yet no one wrote them” he said.
Safiyanu said the global practice “is that you have a standalone regulator of the industry.”
“This merger will clearly compromise safety of the Nigerian Aviation Industry. For instance, if NAMA violates safety procedure, who will reprimand NAMA after it is merged with NCAA? The same thing goes for NIMET. Who oversights NIMET when it is merged with NCAA? This decision is retrogressive and will take us 15 years backward,” he added.
Comrade Ochemba in his submission
said that if Nigeria loses any of its international certification its airspace will be termed unsafe and this will have huge economic effects for the country as airlines will refuse to come as well as overfliers and even the economic benefits would be lost therein.