The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has stated categorically that it is not usurping the functions of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with its protection of air travellers in the country.
So far, the Nigerian aviation industry was among the three sectors that received the highest complaints from the public in the preceding year in the council.
Mr. Babatunde Irukera, the director-general of CPC, stated this recently in Lagos in an interaction with aviation journalists.
According to Irukera, there is no confusion in the laws setting up the two organisations; NCAA and CPC, insisting that his agency was not overlapping on the activities of the aviation industry regulatory body, rather ensuring that the rights of consumers were always protected.
He explained that the statutory role of CPC was to protect the consumers in all sectors of the economy, including the aviation industry and wondered why some players in the sector expressed worry in its attempts to protect the flying public especially when their rights were trampled upon by the airlines and other organsiations in the sector.
He specifically hinted that CPC was not violating any aspect of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommended practices with its intervention when the rights of the flying public, stressing that it would continue to play its vital roles as entrenched in the Act establishing it.
Irukera insisted that the council had been working with NCAA in its bid to protect the flying public over the years and mentioned the abandonment of Nigerian students by Turkish Airlines in United States in 2017, as among the areas both agencies collaborated to protect the country’s citizens from international carriers among many others.
He said, “Overlapping regulation is not confusion, error or legislative blunder, but deliberate design and it always underscores the importance of what is being regulated. The constitutional responsibility of government is to protect the citizens, including exploitation of citizens by organisations and even the government.
“Sector regulator may not be able to provide end to end protection to consumers. NCAA for instance that is regulating airline operators in the aviation industry, there is a potential for conflict and regulatory factor. Statutorily, we are recognised by the law of the land.”
He, however, declared that the relationship between the air travellers and the airlines could improve if NCAA implements the Passengers’ Bill of Rights (PBR) it drafted some few years ago.
At present, he explained that complaints received from the public electronically were responded to within 48 hours, while manual complaints are responded to within seven days.
On his assessment of the nation’s aviation industry, Irukera explained that the sector was not fulfilling its potential in terms of contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) , stressing that the sector could do more.
He said, “As an industry, from its potential, it is under-performing, perhaps not a reflection on people or individuals. It is a statement of what it can contribute to GDP and what it is contributing to the GDP. We can perform better.”