I do not intend to join issues with anyone in my column, but it has become necessary in this article to answer Mr Yakubu Dati, a designated manager (public relations) of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and also a spokesperson for the Ministry of Aviation. After his failure to pursue a meaningful political career in his home state of Plateau, he gained respite with a job in FAAN.
I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, appreciate Dati’s gross ignorance in the field of aviation. But I understand the nature of his job: to persuade, sensitize, and prop the public to accept mediocrity of government policies, especially in air regulation.
Dati lacks both knowledge and ability to rationalize issues in air transportation industry. As delusional as he is, I accept one statement in his last week’s article and that is: Oduah’s dangerous and unsafe policies will take a while to retract and correct.
First, I will educate Yakubu Dati a little bit about aviation, his newly chosen field of endeavour: air transportation is about safety, nothing more; rhetoric, relentless propaganda and politics have no place in the industry. Dati should know that everyone is aware that he must defend Stella Oduah’s negative attributes, and decorate her mainly ugly side to remain in office. Yakubu’s precarious job position warrants sympathy from me; therefore, I applaud his courage.
In just three years as the minister of aviation, Oduah, in search of a puppet, changed three different director-generals of the agency — unprecedented anywhere else in the world. With such a high turnover of the heads of the NCAA, instability in the system becomes inevitable. And it is now showing.
I need to educate Mr Dati and Stella Oduah about the 90 per cent probability of losing the 2009 achieved Nigeria’s category 1 status: the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme, which involves assessing whether another country’s oversight of its air carrier that operates, or seeks to operate, into the United States complies with minimum international standards for aviation safety, is categorized into two parts, 1 & 2. A country whose civil aviation authority meets the required regulatory and safety oversight standards is placed in category 1.
Those countries that are downgraded from category 1 to category 2 would have been found wanting, if the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of their country lacks one of the followings:
The country lacks laws or regulations necessary to support the certification and oversight of air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards;
The CAA lacks the technical expertise, resource;
The CAA does not have adequately trained and qualified technical personnel;
The CAA does not provide adequate inspector guidance to ensure enforcement of, and compliance with, minimum international standards, and
The CAA has insufficient documentation and records of certification and inadequate continuing oversight and surveillance of air carrier operations. This category consists of two groups of countries.
The former minister diluted and weakened the regulatory strength of our civil aviation authority through the influx of unqualified personnel into the system. Today, the NCAA has more support staff than the trained-skilled surveyors and inspectors it used to have.
It is important for Dati, the uneducated spokesperson for the ministry, to understand that category 1 status has nothing to do with airlines but the NCAA. As desperate for a job as Yakubu was, he would have strived to educate himself a little better in the field he acts as a spokesperson. He shows his intense ignorance every time he writes in defence of Ms Oduah, the greediest minister of aviation ever.
Dati and his madam’s ignorance of what aviation stands for created their illusion that, in today’s sophisticated aviation world, an aircraft can fly in our national airspace without proper insurance cover and with an invalid operating licence. The fact remains that both of them are naïve about the differences in aircraft operating permits; the prerequisites to obtain each one of them, and the operating thresholds. The naivety led the former minister to award air operating certificates (AOC) to some unqualified companies in the country.
The majority of these companies are without an airworthy aircraft; their owners were considered to be loyalists, and, based on their relationship with the minister, deserved to be awarded AOCs without meeting the licence issuance requirements. She simply ordered the NCAA to award AOCs to her chosen proxies, like what is obtained in the oil industry, her core area of business.
If Yakubu Dati is insinuating that we are flying with an invalid operating licence, without proper insurance coverage, then, Ms Oduah, who was always flying our aircraft before and after she became the minister of aviation, must have equally endangered her own life.
The former minister of aviation received more money than the past four ministers of aviation combined. In the name of airport remodeling and aviation road map, she milked the system dry. If she considers this statement as a mere allegation, she has a right to seek redress in a court of law. The stakeholders are ready with evidence.
Oduah’s media propaganda machine was louder than the combined effort of all the other ministers in other sectors of our economy — an unnecessary rhetoric to win public support.
On Friday, March 7, 2014, all the newly appointed heads of the agencies in aviation were ordered to meet the former aviation minister in her house to reinforce her magnanimity toward their appointments.
There, they were instructed to reverse changes made by their predecessors, especially changes made within the NCAA, since her three weeks’ departure from the system. Why can’t Ms Oduah allow the aviation system in Nigeria to recover from the massive damage she has inflicted?
How can Dati make a statement that we fly airplanes without spare parts support? It shows his backward knowledge of the industry he claims to represent; even road bikes cannot remain operational without spares. Dati is obviously the most senseless employee of FAAN, and it saddens me that such a clown should defend a system he knows not.
Yakubu can defend his benefactor as much as possible, but one thing is certain: Oduah’s obsessive interest to keep looting the system through the appointment of her chosen candidates into the aviation sector will surely come to an end.
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