The Senate has summoned the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to explain measures being taken by the federal government to minimise air mishaps and near fatalities in the country.
It also resolved to invite the heads of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and other relevant agencies in the industry on steps being taken to check human errors and preventable air crashes.
The resolutions followed an extensive deliberation on a motion titled “The need to minimise the possibility of air mishaps and near fatalities in Nigeria,” sponsored by Gbenga Ashafa (APC, Lagos East) and 14 other senators.
Ashafa led the motion by reminding the Senate of reports of a near fatal incident involving Dana Airlines with number 9J0363, explaining that the aircraft overshot the runway at the Port Harcourt Airport, on a flight from Abuja.
“This incident was attributed to the wet surface of the runway. Just a few weeks before that, there was also panic on Wednesday, 7th of February, 2018, when the emergency door of an aircraft conveying passengers to Abuja fell off upon landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja”, he said.
He expressed concern that these recent occurrences might be a sign of a sequence of human errors, caused by the failure of officials and staff of the agencies saddled with the responsibility of guaranteeing safety to carry out due diligence before issuing clearance for aircraft to operate within the Nigerian airspace.
“Nigeria has experienced a significant number of air catastrophes that cost the lives of hundreds of Nigerians, due to a range of causes including human and technical errors,” he said.
Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu), reminded the Senate that it set up an ad-hoc committee last year to investigate the aviation sector, but nothing was done afterwards.
“We visited the airport, held a public hearing and all that but the same issues are rising today again. Most of us became very much afraid of entering planes. For a long time, I was afraid to travel by air because of what I heard from the professionals about our airports and all the issues we raised in that committee, nothing has been done,” he said.