The decision by the Federal Government to merge the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to form the Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA) as contained in the Stephen Orosanye committee recommendation has continued to elicit reactions from the stakeholders in the aviation industry.
Speaking with Blueprint, the Director of Strategy at Zenith Travels, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo expressed disappointment with the decision saying the “aviation industry has moved and grown beyond warehousing the agencies.”
“It (merger) makes regulation and supervision watery. On the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) the government threw the privatization options out under the guise of security. Aviation security should be taken away from FAAN while the privatization option using public private partnership model should be considered to improve efficiency, profitability and reduce public expenditure. FAAN has gulped bilateral air services agreement funds meant for critical safety issues, whereas by virtue of its services, it should conveniently fund itself,” he said.
Ohunayo called for the scrapping of the ministry of aviation “as a child of necessity if government insists on implementing the report.”
The general secretary of Nigerian Aviation Professional Association (NAPA), Mr. Abdul-Razaq Seidu, described the planned merger as “shocking” adding that it will fail.
“The recommendations of Stephen Orosanye committee cannot work in the aviation industry because Nigerian aviation is not Nigerian aviation alone; aviation is global and it is regulated by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and so on. I don’t know who advised them; I think that they are being misled.
“All the agencies are under the watch of NCAA; NCAA is an autonomous body and the agencies are to report to and be supervised by NCAA. Why are you merging NAMA and NIMET with NCAA? It is wrong,” said Seidu.
“NIMET is not only serving the aviation industry; it provides weather forecasts to other sectors. Who advised the federal government to merge the agencies?
“We have worked hard to get CAT 1; we have also worked to make sure NCAA is autonomous and that is why they have been functioning and we have got lots of improvements on safety and security at our airports. If you now merge all these agencies, it will create problems,” he said.
He advised the federal government to allow the existing structures to continue adding that government should create the ministry of transportation because “the ministry of aviation is duplicating the functions of NCAA.”
In his reaction, the former Air Force commandant at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Group Capt. John Ojikutu said the merger would bring the industry under the jackboot of the government
Ojikutu stated that Orosanye was not properly advised before his committee made the recommendation.
“When we should get the private operators to invest more on the industry or commercialise government operators like FAAN and NAMA as recommended in the privatisation and commercialization Act of 2000, government is, instead, appropriating the industry to itself alone. Surely, the government officials and political office holders cannot take their eyes, mind and soul away from the hidden or sleaze funds in these agencies,” he added.
Similarly, the chairman, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), at FAAN, Mr. Ekanem Ekanem said NCAA should be an autonomous body while NAMA provides the equipment to make the airspace safe.