A member of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Sen. Ibn Na’Allah, yesterday said that the Senate and the committee were misinformed on its directive to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to suspend the issuance of air operators’ certificate to the start-up carrier, NG Eagle Airlines.
This is as the senator warned against political interference in the autonomy of NCAA in carrying out its duties.
The senator stated this in Abuja during the 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).
Na’Allah specifically said that the committee was misled on the controversial issue of NG Eagle AOC and apologised to Nigerians.
Also, he charged NCAA to go ahead with its duties and perform its statutory functions in the industry as the regulator without interference.
He said: “The Senate does not wish to interfere in the statutory functions of NCAA.”
Recall that the Senate Committee in a letter signed by its chairman, Sen. Smart Adeyemi had last week, directed NCAA to suspend the ongoing issuance of AOC to NG Eagle Airline.
The letter dated October 11, 2021 and addressed to the director-general, NCAA, said that the directive was necessary following the huge debts of Arik Air to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other government agencies in the sector.
But, the directive was condemned by stakeholders and associations in the sector who insisted that it was tantamount to political interference on the statutory functions of NCAA by the Senate.
For instance, Aviation Round Table (ART) in a statement expressed dismay at the level of political interference on safety issues by politicians.
The statement signed by Dr. Gbenga Olowo, President, ART, insisted that the various legislations that established aviation and allied agencies in Nigeria stipulated their roles and areas of competence, adding that the NCAA Act prescribed its role as the apex regulator of activities in the sector.
It emphasised that in order to effectively perform its tasks, the statute empowers the regulator and its Board needed as a matter of urgency to have oversight for optimal performance without compromising its role as enforcer of international Standards and Recommended Practices and other state responsibilities.
It declared that the recent actions of the members of the National Assembly undermined and whittled the powers granted to the NCAA, recalling that there had been similar acts of interference in the past.
It added “…while some of these undue interference is partly attributable to the absence of governing boards for the agencies, the consequential gap in administration could have emboldened these interferences continually.
“ART frowns and condemns these undue interferences and highlight the safety and credibility issues involved, it is unbelievable that the National Assembly will delve into technical and safety matters like the issuance of Airline Operating Certificate (AOC).
“NG Eagle’s right will be breached unfairly if its AOC is not released after the company has complied with all mandatory tasks successfully. NCAA will also be in gross violation of these rights. Should the House Committee on Aviation be interested in recouping public funds (which is the contention in this case) a resolution could be passed citing the relevant section of the economic regulations of the Nig CARs if applicable.”