REFUSAL of the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to inaugurate a Board of Directors appointed by his boss, President Muhammad Buhari four years ago in July 2018 has shown an alleged sinister plot to control of the industry’s agencies unchecked and without recourse to supervision.
Each time there has been a been a union protest from agencies of federal government, the main focus has been to accuse the Minister of not heeding to any other but his counsel, hence the main reason he has refused against all to inaugurate the Board.
The argument in defense of the refusal to inaugurate a Board from some stakeholders have always been that it was done in the past and was not a new thing but truth be told; that is the most lame excuse for the current state of illegality anyone can come up with, and at some point, said illegality should be eschewed and not turned into the norm.
Recall, President Buhari appointed in the into the boards of five of the six parastatals in the aviation industry with Dr Yakubu Lame Abdullahi Y as Chairman and Gashu’a Capt. Ibraheem Olugbade as members for the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA)
The board of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is to be chaired by the first civilian governor of Ekiti State Otunba Niyi Adebayo while Akingbesote M. Akinyeye Suleiman Mohammed Bello Bello Babura were appointed as board members.
Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria board Chairman is Mrs Deborah S. Iliyas, while members are Chief Simon Owhofa while Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) board was to be chaired by Dr Simeon Adeyemi Afolayan while Otunba J.F Alake Dr Chichi Ashwe serve as members.
The board of the industry regulatory agency, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has Barr Mohammed Abdullahi as Chairman; with Chief Edet Nkpebre, Uzoma Igbonwa, Hon. Adisa Adeniji Mohd Salau Kafi as members.
The Minister in his defense however said he could not swear in board members because of the appointment of non-professionals which according to him, negates the Act governing agencies in the aviation industry stressing that the Federal Government (Of which he is a member) did not allegedly consider when announcing their compositions.
However, by refusing to inaugurate the board the Minister has also violated the Act establishing the agencies by leaving them without boards and all under his sphere of influence plus the fact that the minister ought to have officially met with the appropriate authorities to address the perceived challenge in the composition instead of the status quo the board members.
Bottom-line, since the appointments, no board has been inaugurated in any aviation parastatal which led to a fracas involving the then National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomole who demanded the Minister and his labour counterpart swears in board members or be expelled from party
The former party chairman said members of board of government agencies and institutions appointed by the president must be inaugurated, noting that some ministers had taken undue advantage of the president’s fatherly disposition.
He said it was illegal for a minister in a democracy to prey the powers of the board because the laws establishing those institutions are clear, that the boards have procedures to follow.
“And it is absolutely illegal “So, when a minister sits in his office to appropriate the powers of the board in a democracy, not in a dictatorship and award contract that didn’t go through boards, those are clearly abuse of office for which they are liable. I am convinced that what they are doing is not with the endorsement of Mr. President.
Oshiohmole said: “If the minister refuses we will suspend him from the party. You know we must return to internal discipline. “For me it is the height of mischief for any minister, you cannot purport to be honourable minister and you act dishonorably and nobody is greater than the party. “And if the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party. And we will expel the minister.
“We will prevail on the president that he can’t keep in his cabinet, people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been ministers. There are no independent candidate in our system, nobody, I emphasis no minister is above the party.’’
Oshiomole is however not the only one who feels the Minister and others like him are using loopholes in the system to not only defy their Commander-in-Chief but to also abuse their office.
This scenario led to members of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) early in the year to demand an expeditious inauguration of boards of directors of aviation agencies
A statement signed by the body addressed to the industry read, “Due to the nature of professionalism in the Aviation Sector, its critical nature together with safety issues, there is a fundamental need for the emplacement of boards of directors for prompt decision-making. While we acknowledge the fact that Interim boards could fill the administrative vacuum, agencies were not contemplated to run without functional boards for periods exceeding 3 months.
“ART is of the view that Aviation Sector policymakers adopt the international aviation best corporate governance for the promotion of safety. Situations, where the Aviation agencies operate without formally inaugurated boards, could cast a thick shadow on transparency, accountability, and responsibility.”
“Sirika should as a matter of urgency inaugurate boards of directors for the respective agencies in order to avoid continuous breach of rules by the minister.”
General Secretary, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Abdulrazaq Saidu, stated that the failure of the minister to inaugurate boards of directors to the agencies indicates disregards to the rule of law.
According to him, ANAP for instance has written numerous letters to the minister to remind him of this oversight, but he has failed to respond to any of our letters on the issue. Aviation workers were suffering because of the several actions of the minister since he came onboard. For instance, training of personnel has been relegated to the background in recent years.
Another stakeholder and the immediate past General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Comrade Olayinka Abioye, said the non-inauguration of the boards shows that something is actually wrong in the sector.
He said since the Acts setting up the agencies stipulate that they should have board of directors; the minister ought to have set them up immediately they were appointed by President Buhari. The minister may have willfully delayed their inauguration in order to continue to have influence on the agencies.
He said, “The implication is that the minister wants to still control the happenings in the parastatals. You are aware that by the Acts establishing these agencies, they are supposed to report to a board and in the absence of a board, the minister takes charge. So, if the minister has the audacity to set aside the directive of Mr. President, it goes to show that something is definitely wrong with our system.
“The minister and the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have a limit on what they can approve and spend without recourse to the boards of directors. Some of his activities over the years indicate that he has flagrantly disobeyed the extant rules for the industry.”
So as it stands, the illegality still goes on and it is backed by an illegal reasons which also points to a bigger fact that there is something inherently wrong in the aviation sub-sector especially as the Act establishing these agencies states they are supposed to report to a board and in the absence of a board, the minister takes charge
However, if the President has appointed a Board and a minister, any minister refuses to carry out the directive of his commanding officer, does it not show how deep the problems within the sector are?