By Adelola Amihere
Aviation workers unions have asked the Federal Government not to approve the recommendation of the Oronsaye Panel for the merger of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) with the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the apex regulatory authority for civil aviation in Nigeria.
In a joint statement signed by the General Secretary of Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Comrade Frances Akinjole; the Deputy General Secretary National Association of Aircraft Pilot and Engineers (Nape), Comrade Umoh Ofonime; and the General Secretary of Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) Comrade Abdul Rasaq Saidu, the union stated that the Steve Oronsaye Committee was either ill-advised or did not possess adequate knowledge about Nigeria’s obligation in the area of establishment of a state civil aviation system as prescribed in relevant documents of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to which Nigeria is a signatory to its Convention (the Chicago Convention 1944) and an active member.
They urged government not uphold the recommendation of merger of NAMA, NIMET and NCAA, saying while the first two are air navigation services provider (ANSP) which includes provision of over-flight services to international flights crossing Nigeria Airspace, and aero meteorological services provider respectively, NCAA is the industry regulatory agency and merging them will put the “merged entity” in a position of conflict of interest, whereby a service provider will regulate itself.
This according to them will pose serious challenging situation that may result in complacency, corruption and inefficiency in service delivery in the long run.
According the unions, when the Goodluck Jonathan administration proposed implementation of the same recommendation, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) intervened and the matter was dropped.
They said: “If the intention of the Oronsaye Committee is to reduce the cost of governance or to eliminate duplication of functions in the three entities penned through its recommendation for merger, then the committee got it absolutely wrong because NCAA stands alone as a regulator with clearly defined responsibilities enabled by its establishment Act (civil Aviation Act 2006), that is, to regulate civil aviation and air navigation in Nigeria.
“On the other hand, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) was established to provide air navigation services that will enable the safe take-off and landing of aircraft within the Nigerian airspace while the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) provides Aero-metrological services, which in fact, is just about 10% when viewed against the 90% meteorological services NIMET provides to other key sectors of the Nigerian economy such as Agriculture, Oil & Gas, Construction Industry, Marine, Inland Waterways and others”
The statement added that NAMA and the NCAA do not get any subvention from the federation account as both generate there revenue nternally with huge capital requirements that are funded from revenue they generate from the services they provide to the aviation industry.
They also faulted the the recommendation that the IGR of NAMA, NCAA and NIMET be paid into the federation account from which releases will be made to the Agencies for their day-to-day running and payment of salaries, saying it will negate the principle of autonomy for the regulator and even for the ANSP. As there is currently campaign within the ICAO system for the autonomy of ANSPs so as to make them competitive and more efficient in the provision of seamless Air Navigation Services for the aviation industry.
“We cannot end this clarion call on the Federal Government against the proposed merger without drawing the Government’s attention to the fact that the proposed merger, if actualised, will attract both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) IASA CAT1 and the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit (USOAP-CMA) queries. Let it be known to all and sundry that there are specific audit protocols/questionnaires that speak to the independence/autonomy of the civil aviation regulatory authority (NCAA)”, they sated.