In the wake of events that shook the world when terrorists attacked Brussels Airport, Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has emphasized that the role of security in air transport cannot be undermined and that Nigeria needs to improve on its aviation security to meet new challenges.
Sirika has also expressed support for the amendment of the Civil Aviation Acts in order to enhance performance in the nation’s aviation industry.
The minister made these known while receiving reports from two committees last Friday, the Ministerial Committee on the Review and Amendment of Civil Aviation Acts and the Committee on the Assessment of Aviation Security in Abuja.
According to Sirika, who commending both committees for the job well done, the effect of security on the industry and overall populace was of great importance to the government.
He said that security issues had overtaken safety in the aviation industry considering the current trend in the global aviation security.
Reacting, Chairman, Ministerial Committee on Assessment Aviation Security, Retired Air Commodore Hambali Tukur, while submitting the report, said that security was one of the challenges confronting the industry.
Tukur said the committee had made some recommendations that would improve aviation security in the country and ensure visible changes in the industry, if implemented.
He, however, emphasized that the committee, in the course of its assignment did not certify any airport in the country, adding that it was not their mandate to certify any airport on security.
On the review of the Civil Aviation Act, Minister of State, Aviation, Sirika said that the existing civil aviation Acts in Nigeria which was first reviewed in 2006, was done in a rush which made it inefficient.
The minister added that for the aviation industry in Nigeria to achieve the needed change, efficient laws must be in place.
“Since 1964, no one ever thought of amending the Acts and by the time we went to the National Assembly in 2003, some of the offences in the aviation industry were still being charged in pounds. In 2006, the civil aviation acts went through amendment but even at the time, I was more than convinced that the Acts was not sufficient because it was done in a rush,’’ he said.
The Chairman, Committee on Review of Civil Aviation Regulation, Dr Ibrahim Idris, said the committee in the course of its assignment came up with some findings and recommendations.
Idris said the committee found that there was overlap of functions by the agencies whereby service providers’ agencies engaged in regulatory function.
He added that inadequate tertiary status in Nigeria College of Aviation Act was affecting the performance of the college, especially in assessing vital funds from Tertiary Education Trust Fund for its development.
According to him, the appointment, functions and tenure of the members of the board of agencies as specified in the existing Acts has affected the smooth performance of the agencies.
The committee chairman also said that the proliferation and creation of departments/directorates in all the agencies and arbitrary usurping of various agencies’ powers were also prevalent.
He, however, recommended that the Federal Government should ensure speedy passage/enactment of the bill into law and ensure separation of powers among the agencies.
“Facilitate the upgrade of NCAT to a degree awarding institution, empower Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMet) to commercialise some of its services and products.
“Remove impediments to smooth running and functions of all the agencies; ensure seamless co-existence between them and they should be encouraged to initiate avenue of generating more revenue.
“The power of review of sharing formula for communal revenues to be vested in the office of the minister in charge of aviation,’’ he said.
The committee, which was inaugurated on February 29, was made up of representatives from the ministry, agencies, aviation trade unions and airline operators.
The committee was mandated to study, review and evaluate the existing Acts establishing the various aviation agencies in line with current trends in the industry among others.