By Chinelo Obogo
The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has accused the National Assembly of undermining the autonomy of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), saying its recent directive to suspend the issuance of the air operator certificate (AOC) is political interference in safety issues.
Speaking to aviation journalists at a press conference in Lagos, Abednego Galadima, the president of NAAPE, which is the coordinating body for pilots and engineers in the country, said he did not It is not for the National Assembly to determine who the NCAA addresses. an AOC at.
The House Aviation Committee headed by Nnolim Nnaji ordered the NCAA last Wednesday not to issue AOC to Nigeria Eagle Airline after receiving a petition from the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) branch of the National Union of Retirees (NUP) alleging that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) acquired the properties of Arik Air and changed the name to Nigeria Eagle Airline to escape payment of debts owed to workers and agencies.
The unions also alleged that AMCON changed the livery of the Arik aircraft to NG Eagle and said they are asking the aviation committee to prevent the NCAA from issuing an AOC to NG Eagle so that what s t happened when the defunct Bellview Airline evolved into the First Nation Airline and the millions owed by the former to workers and agencies were lost will not be repeated. Arik Air has been under AMCON’s supervision since February 2017 and the company also sponsors NG Eagle Airlines.
But Abednego, who was surrounded by executive members of the NAAPE, including the president of the association’s Arik Air branch, Mudi Muhammed, explained that Article 30 of the 2006 Civil Aviation Law clearly spelled out the powers of the NCAA and allowed it to operate without political interference, insisting that the House committee’s statement on the matter amounts to political interference and is counterproductive, which falls short of global best practice. He warned that continued interference in NCAA affairs could result in the loss of Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Category 1 status, which Nigeria achieved in 2006.
âThis is having serious consequences for the aviation industry, especially now that the industry is counting its losses caused by the negative impact of Covid-19 and is in dire need of huge investment flows to fully recover. It is also important to point out that Nigeria will soon be faced with an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and that practices like this could cause us to underperform. It can also cause us to lose our Category 1 status as a nation.
âThe controversy over whether or not the NCAA should give NG Eagle an AOC is very unnecessary and unwarranted. We clearly see it as an attempt to politically influence the NCAA’s decision on what is clearly a technical process, which has set requirements and procedures that guide them in determining suitability or whatever.
The NAAPE insisted that the NG Eagle deserved to be commended for saving thousands of jobs in the sector through its intervention in Arik Air and Aero Contractors and said it supported the float of NG Eagle, claiming that it would guarantee more jobs for its members and create more opportunities for unemployed pilots and engineers, among others. The association urged NCAA chief executive Captain Musa Nuhu to immediately complete the process of issuing an AOC to the impending carrier, noting that information at its disposal indicated that the airline had met all requirements. stipulated by the regulations.
The NAAPE also warned that if the approved new Terms of Service (CoS) of its NCAA members were not implemented within the next three weeks, it would not hesitate to launch an indefinite strike to argue his request.