A former Comptroller General of Federal Fire Service, Mr Fidelis Ogbogoh, on Sunday called on the Federal Government to stop all aircraft above 15 years from operating in the country.
Ogbogoh made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on the recent Dana airline crash in Iju-Ishaga, Lagos, which killed 153 people on board and many others on the ground.
He also urged the Federal Government to urgently consolidate the aviation sector in the same manner banks in the country were restructured.
In the wake of the disaster, the Federal Government suspended the licence of the airline pending the outcome of investigations into the crash.
Ogbogoh said: ``I do not think we need experts to tell us when aircraft are airworthy. Why should we allow 'coffins to ply the airways of the nation?
``Most of the aircraft in Nigeria are more than 20 years old and grounding Dana might not be the answer.
``I think with immediate effect all aircraft operating in Nigeria airspace that are more than 15 years old should be grounded.’’
On the consolidation in the Aviation Sector, Ogbogoh said only capable firms should be licensed to operate airlines in Nigeria.
``People who are not able to run airlines in our airspace should not be encouraged to bring 'flying coffins into the nation.
``They should merge and provide this nation the deserved services.’’
Ogbogoh attributed various major plane crashes in the last decade in the country to neglect and pointed out that no fewer than 620 people had perished in air disasters in Nigeria during the period.
He said there was a need for stakeholders to collectively look inward to solve the problems in the aviation sector.
``The wanton neglect of air disasters in this country cannot be accepted. We must think of where we are and sanction those not meeting the expectations,'' he said.
Ogbogoh said the Dana airline crash had brought to the fore that ``Nigerians are perpetually being denied the basic tenets of human rights.
``Nigeria deliberately in 1990 along with other member countries of the UN set up a national committee for international decade for disaster reduction.
``Instead of air disaster reduction, we have been experiencing an increase in disasters.’’
Ogbogoh also called on the National Orientation Agency to step up campaigns on sensitising Nigerians about disaster management.
He said the agency in partnership with the fire service and the police should fashion out a policy on educating people on disaster management.
He said it was disturbing to see thousands of Nigerians troop to the scene of the crash shortly after the plane came down.
Ogbogoh, who is a member of a Presidential Committee on the Restructuring of the Fire Service, decried low budgetary allocations to the fire service by the federal, state and local governments.
He urged the three tiers of government to increase budgetary allocations to agencies charged with disaster management.
He said priority attention should be given to fire services in the present administration’s transformation agenda. (NAN)