OUR attention has been drawn to another petition written by Nigerian Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) in its series of petitions and malicious media attacks aimed at bringing down Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).The management of AIB had initially decided to ignore NAAPE’s attacks and focus on its primary assignment but counsels from concerned members of the public and the staff that falsehood may appear to be the truth if unchallenged, forced this response. The public is being misinformed.
NAAPE has developed the penchant for writing petitions and before the authority could sit down to address its concerns, it takes the matter to the media. This mischief is a reflection of the kind of respect and confidence they have in constituted authorities and their diabolical ways of arm twisting them. By this, NAAPE has portrayed the Ministers of Transportation, the Minister of State for Aviation and the Minister of Labour as incompetent before their boss, the same way they are trying to make AIB Commissioner look incompetent.
The union in its petition alleged that the Head of Human Resources unilaterally sacked two Directors. This is total falsehood. The affected Directors, whose tenure, going by AIB Conditions of Service, had expired were informed through internal memos of their status as directed by the Commissioner. Before the expiration of their tenure, AIB had informed the Ministry of Transportation and is still awaiting their decision.
NAAPE stated that the Directors’ appointments had no tenure and that tenure system had been cancelled in the civil service. Tenure system was only suspended and not cancelled. However, does that also include contract staff? It means therefore that the affected Directors, who are currently about 70 years old, can therefore work forever. NAAPE should know better that tenure suspension is for career officers who will nevertheless be caught up with pensionable age of 60 years or 35 years in service. Is there any appointment in the civil service that has no terminal date?
In its petition, NAAPE also complained that the Commissioner went to Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation Association (BAGAIA) meeting held in Gambia with Head of Public Affairs because he is neither an engineer nor a pilot. This is high display of ignorance. The meeting was purely about policy issues and Mr. Tunji Oketunbi who had series of certified accident investigation trainings spanning Transportation Safety Institute in Oklahoma, USA, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), USA and Cranfield University, United Kingdom among others made significant contributions at the meeting. He was part of the team that produced the report of the meeting.
NAAPE wondered why the Commissioner did not go with any of the Directors whose tenures would have expired during the conference period. They alleged that Dr. Felix Abali, Commissioner AIB has a complex and would not want to be outshined. This is laughable! How can Dr. Abali who has a B.Sc. in Mathematics, B.Sc, M.Sc,, Ph.D, Degrees in Mechanical Engineering, a scholar with two patents in the USA, who worked with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for several years, have complex before somebody who has a mere school certificate, if that much?
The union will rubbish all AIB staff except its only three members in its pre-determined assault on the Bureau. It questioned why the General Manager (Audit) who was the most senior staff around should act for the Commissioner in the latter’s absence. This is a display of ignorance of civil service rules.
On the secondment of Mr. Benjamin Okewu to AIB from Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), we have said so much and there is nothing else to say.
We enjoin NAAPE to wait for the authorities they have sent their petitions to resolve this matter and their other grievances, rather than disturbing the public space. If a quarter of the energy and passion devoted to causing trouble in AIB had been channelled to addressing Aero Contractor Airlines issues, the carrier would probably be flying today.