INFIGHTING at the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) is yet to abate as salvos are still being fired, this time with the National Association of Aircraft Pilot and Engineers (NAAPE) charging the Minister of State, Aviation Hadi Sirika to intervene once and for all in the alleged improper placement of a seconded staff.Since August, NAAPE has engaged the AIB management in a bid to get them to reverse the Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) National President, Benjamin Okewu’s alleged undeserved promotion against after being seconded to AIB from the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).
In a letter signed by the General Secretary of NAAPE, Ocheme Aba with Ref: NS/GS/00473/2016 addressed to the Minister and copied to the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the Permanent Secretary, Fed. Ministry of Transportation and the Branch Chairman/Secretary, AIB the group called for action.
NAAPE stated that it was ye to get a response to its letter of July 4, 2016 and August 18, 2016 stating that the matters remain very pressing, considering the negative impact that could be created by failing to redress them.
According to NAAPE the negative consequence of the Ministry’s inaction is the fostering of impunity with its attendant dislocation of due process and normalcy.
“For instance, the self-appointed Head of HR in AIB has taken matters completely into his hands. In two separate letters, he informed two Directors (Engineering and Operations) of the expiration of their tenures as Directors. Then he directed them to stop reporting for work. In other words he, Benjamin Okewu, purporting to act as Head of HR of AIB sacked two Directors in the Bureau on account of expiration of their tenures, whereas every public servant is aware that the Federal Government has abrogated the policy of tenures for public officers,” the letter read.
“Mr. Okewu is fully aware that the appointment letters of the Directors was issued by the Federal Ministry of Aviation, and their appointment letters say nothing about tenure. Yet he, Mr. Okewu, arrogated to himself the powers of the Minister and sacked two Directors, and also created his own public service rule. What audacity.”
“In another instance, as we write this letter, the Commissioner of AIB is attending the BAGAIA (Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Agency) Conference in Gambia. And accompanied by whom? Well, not the Director of Engineering. And not the Director of Operations. Not any Accident Investigator. Not anyone that has engineering or flying background. But the Head of Media, Mr. Tunji Oketunbi. Why? Just to say “thank you for your support”. What could he be doing there to benefit the AIB? Please consider the attached agenda for the BAGAIA Conference.”
“Again, the Commissioner has obtained approval to attend the forthcoming ICAO Assembly with Lawal Haliru Abdulmumini, an AGM who is an uncertified Air Safety Investigator (having failed the certification process in Cranefield University in 2012). Is the ICAO Assembly not supposed to be a gathering of topmost professionals and management personnel in the industry? Shouldn’t one ask about the Directors in the Bureau who are seasoned men with wealth of experience? Why are they left out? Is it because of complex? “
“Perhaps, being unknowledgeable about Accident Investigation, the Commissioners may be avoiding the company of those who could outshine him. Or is it bare patronage mentality? But should we allow a government institution to run like this; by patronage and subterfuge?”
“The Commissioner is embarking on a series of travels and his duties have to be covered in this absence. But see how messy the duty coverage is made to be. The Head of HR – note Sir, not the Commissioner himself – emailed a backdated letter to the Director of Engineering at closing time on 20th September, 2016 asking him to cover duties for the Commissioner for that 20th September only (one day). “
“While the GM Audit was also asked to cover duties for 21st September only (one day also). GM Audit acting for the CEO? Isn’t this a real mess? The copies of the letters are attached for you to confirm that this is really happening.”
NAAPE continued,”We ask the following questions concerning Okewu’s contentious appointment and promotion: Did AIB declare any vacancy in their HR Department? Did AIB fill such vacancy, if declared, in the manner prescribed by the Public Service Rule (PSR)? Did AIB carry out the promotion of Benjamin Okewu in compliance with the PSR? Did he write any promotion examination, for example? Is the Commissioner competent to single-handedly carry out such a promotion?”
“Can a public servant who is seconded for a particular competency be laterally, and unilaterally, moved into another area of competence? What about the person’s competence in the new area? How does CONTENDIS apply to non academic staff? Or is Benjamin Okewu an academic staff of NCAT? Where does the two years period for the secondment stand in the present circumstance? Is it jettisoned? Considering the admonition of the Federal Ministry of Transportation that the PSR guiding secondment must be adhered to strictly in this particular case, can anyone convince anyone that the directive had been complied with?”
According to NAAPE if urgent action is not taken by the Federal Government in dealing with these infractions and ineptitude, then the government may be setting a very bad precedence, an equally bad standard for corporate governance, as well as inadvertently promoting short circuiting and patronage syndromes in the public service.