The Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) has said that refusal to inaugurate governing Boards of aviation and allied agencies in line with section 29:1 of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act stifles initiatives and accountability and promotes organisational recklessness.
The group made this known through a communique issued after the last Breakfast Business Meeting themed: Aviation in Nigeria Beyond 2023 General Elections: Challenges & Prospects.
President Muhammadu Buhari on December 29, 2017 approved the constitution of the governing boards of agencies and parastatals .
According to a statement from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation the President appointed 209 board chairmen and 1,258 board members.
The SGF, Boss Mustapha in the statement said President Buhari considered the approval for the constitution of the Boards as well as the appointments, very necessary, so as to provide a proper governance and oversight structure for Government Agencies and Parastatals.
“The constitution of the boards with the appointments is a demonstration of this Government’s efforts aimed at building strong institutions of Governance, and by extension, improving the quality of Policy formulation and supervision.
Board Chairmen and members approved for aviation agencies include: Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi as Chairman of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) board, other members are: Chief Edet Nkpebre, Uzoka Igbonwa, Hon. Adisa Adeniyo and Mohd Salau Kafi.
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), has Dr. Yakubu Lame as Chairman, Abbdullahi Gashu’a and Captain Ibraheem Olugbade as members.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has Otunba Niyi Adebayo as Chairman with Akingbesote Akinyeye, Suleiman Mohammed and Bello Bello Babura as members.
For the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) it is Mrs Deborah Iliyas and Chief Simon Owhofa as chairman and members while the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) had Dr. Simeon Adeyemi Afolayan , Otunbs J F Alakr and Dr. Chichi Ashwe as chairman and members of Board.
Only the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) now National Safety Investigation Bureau ( NSIB) does not have a board.
Now, six years after, no board and the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has a firm grip on the agencies with free reins as there are no checks and balances in his control over activities of the agencies.
However, it was learnt that the boards constituted in the first tenure of the President could not be inaugurated because as was revealed at that time, the composition of the boards was not in line with the Acts establishing the agencies.
Delving further into the composition of the Boards, the NCAA Act stipulates the appointment of professionals as chairman and members of the board, as well as representatives from three ministries.
Part three of the NCAA Act said, “The Authority shall have a governing board (in this Act referred to as “the Board”) which shall consist of: (a) Chairman; (b)one representative not below the rank of a director of the following ministries: (i) the Federal Ministry of Aviation or the ministry for the time being responsible for aviation; (ii) the Federal Ministry of Defence or the ministry for the time being responsible for defence; and (iii) the Federal Ministry of Communications or the ministry for the time being responsible for communications.”
Stakeholders and industry watchers who have observed the situation are however of the opinion that if the Presidency were serious and wanted to create strong institutions, it would reconstitute a board going through the Acts that establish these agencies especially as other agencies and parastatals in other sectors were being reconstituted.
The Acts of other aviation agencies also make provision for the composition of the boards that are responsible for the policies for the running of the organisation.
For instance, appointment, promotion, and award of contracts fall under the purview of the boards, that have been mandated to meet not less than four times in a year but without a board all these have fallen on the table of the Minister, who according to various unions, have refused to inaugurate so as to run his gung ho show.
This, according to many, has affected the industry negatively with accusations of the minister running around and doing anything he feels like unchecked thereby affecting the creation of strong institutions by projecting the individual.
The current court cases instituted against both the Airport concessions and the Nigeria Air project are case in points all suits pointing at various levels of alleged irregularities with the processes.
President of the ART, Elder Gbenga Olowo, had sometime last year in the first BBM said, “Due to the nature of professionalism in the aviation sector, its critical nature together with safety issues, there is the fundamental need for the emplacement of boards of directors for prompt decision-making.”
He said the board serves as the intervening mechanism between the chief executive and the ministry.
At one of their joint congresses, the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ocheme Aba said the union had cried to different quarters and made several appeals for the composition of the boards to no avail.
Aba said, “The concept of boards is to improve the capacity to manage those organisations and to have a type of intellectual input necessary for its development and growth.
“The Nigeria’s aviation cannot grow beyond the mental capacity of only one man. The Minister of Aviation is the chairman of the interim boards of all the aviation agencies and he is joined by the Permanent Secretary and his appointees, the chief executives who cannot take a contrary view against whatever is being pushed to them.
“So the whole of aviation is on one man’s head. I would want to say it is in one man’s hand and it is dangerous. So we have a one-way track; one-way track for all the agencies; no diversity. There is nothing like cross fertilisation of ideas. So the disadvantages are numerous,” he said.