The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) unions has petitioned the Ministry of Transportation over what it considers the inappropriate elevation of President of the Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Comrade Benjamin Okewu, from salary Grade Level 12 to salary Grade Level 15.
NAAPE has called on the Ministry of Transportation to immediately launch an investigation into the matter, warning that a crisis may soon erupt, as there is already an uneasy calm.
The pilot and engineer body is agitating that the promotion was unilaterally made by the Commissioner of Accident Investigation (AIB), Dr. Felix Abali, who made Okewu leapfrog two senior officers.
In the petition letter made available to Nigerianflightdeck.com NAAPE is accusing Abali of breaching civil service rules.
The petition (Ref: NS/GS/00440/2016), titled “Serious Infractions At AIB Need Your Urgent Intervention” was dated July 4, 2016, and addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation. It was also copied to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
In the petition, signed by its Deputy General Secretary, Comrade Umoh Ofonime, NAAPE observed that Okewu was seconded to AIB from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria as a Principal Planning Officer on Grade Level 12.
NAAPE expressed shock that the same person was then given the headship of the Human Resources Department and promoted to Grade Level 15. NAAPE insisted that Okewu’s new position is alien to the organogram of AIB.
“We must point out the fact that Mr. Okewu’s elevation from GL 12 to GL 15 and from a different field – Planning, in another organisation, NCAT, was done over two other staff of the Human Resources Department, who presently are on GL 14 and due for promotion to GL 15.
“Chiejine Elemechi Dora (Mrs.) and Otegwu Celine Ego (Mrs.) are both Chief Admin. Officers on GL 14 in the bureau before Okewu came into the bureau on GL 15. We wonder if these facts have been disclosed to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and if the ministry actually approved such travesty,” NAAPE stated.
According to the petition, Okewu’s secondment to the AIB was discussed by the AIB management on May 14, 2016, while his secondment letter from the Ministry of Transportation read May 10, 2016. This, NAAPE argued, indicated that the Abali had unilaterally facilitated the secondment before it was brought to the notice of the management.
The petition further stated that the management staff questioned Okewu’s qualification and suitability for the position of Head Human Resources, given that he has a background in Planning and was on a lower salary grade.
“We consider this unwholesome situation to be an under-the-table arrangement by both the Commissioner and Mr. Okewu and it’s a subversion of public service rules, an affront on the delegated powers of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, a calculated effort to stultify the progression of other hard-working staff of AIB,” the petition stated.
Another document from the Human Resources Management of the Ministry of Transportation (Reference number: FMA/PMD/0019/S.6/C.3/1/9), dated May 10, 2016, and addressed to the Commissioner of AIB, had informed him of the approval of the Okewu’s redeployment to the bureau from NCAT for two years in the first instance from February 20, 2016.
The letter, which advised the agency’s boss on “strict adherence to the rules guiding secondment in the public service,” was signed by the Director, Human Resource Management, on behalf of Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Sirika.
The Ministry’s letter, however, pointed out that Okewu was on Grade Level 12 at NCAT and was a Principal Planning Officer in the college. But a letter personally signed by Okewu for AIB on 4 July, 2016, showed that the elevation was already in effect