A member, Senate Committee on Aviation, Sen. Ibn Na’Allah has apologized to Nigerians over the controversial statement from the senate on the issuance of Air Operators Certificate (AOC) to NG Eagle and warning against political interference on the autonomy of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The Senator representing Kebbi South Senatorial seat said that the committee was misled on its directive to the NCAA to suspend the issuance of AOC to the startup carrier and charged the regulatory body to perform its statutory functions of the industry without interference.
The senator stated this on Wednesday in Abuja during the 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) where he said: “The Senate does not wish to interfere in the statutory functions of NCAA.” after which he got a thunderous applause.
Recall that the Senate Committee in a letter dated October 11, 2021 and addressed to the Director-General, NCAA signed by its Chairman, Sen. Smart Adeyemi had ‘directed’ NCAA to suspend the ongoing issuance of AOC to NG Eagle Airline.
According to the letter the directive was necessary following the huge debts of Arik Air to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other government agencies in the sector.
However, this directive met with a flurry of condemnation by stakeholders and associations in the sector who insisted that it was tantamount to political interference on the statutory functions of NCAA by the Senate.
National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), a panel of aviation experts and enthusiasts, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) were all on call to criticize a move by the Senate who followed the lead of the House of Representatives.
Most of them are of the opinion that this interference in the form of the directive issued will affect the way the NCAA’s autonomy is viewed especially by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) auditors especially as there is an upcoming audit in the first quarter of 2022.