AIB, NAAPE Face-Off Linked To Persons Not Happy With System


There are insinuations that the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) battle against the Accident Investigation Bureau ( AIB) over the secondment  of the President of the Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria, ATSSSAN, Comrade Benjamin Okewu to AIB may have been sponsored by some persons in the agency ,who are not happy with the system.

Investigation by Abelnews revealed that some members of the association, which only has six members that were inaugurate two months ago in the agency were bent on removing the AIB, Commissioner Dr. Felix Abali.

Checks further revealed that some of these people, who are allegedly fighting for the soul of AIB had in the past written several anonymous petitions against the current Commissioner to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC), Department of State Service (DSS), the Nigeria Police, Ministry of Aviation and the Presidency, alleging that he was corrupt.

It was also learnt that the various agencies investigated Abali but that nothing was found to indict him of corrupt practice and as a result he was allowed to remain the commissioner.

A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Abelnews that after these anonymous petitioners failed to use these agencies to trap the AIB Commissioner; they allegedly resorted to using the unions to forcefully remove him from office.

The source added that after all these; they tried to paint him as incompetent commissioner, despite his track record at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other renowned institutions.

The source further told Abelnews that the several petitions  written in the past and the current fight to finish war against the Commissioner  are the handiwork of  those he described as the  same ‘cabal’ in the organisation  that had fought past commissioners  since the birth of AIB.

“They bitterly fought Dr Sam Oduselu, the pioneer Commissioner and Capt. Muhtar Usman, when he was the commissioner  before he was posted to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as Director General .The same cabal are at work to fight Abali  with the hope to gain power and be in charge of the agency” The source said.

He alleged that this same group may be the same using NAAPE to fight the management.

The source further claimed that the trade union was using staff with baggage as arrowheads in AIB, adding that one of the NAAPE leaders in AIB already had three disciplinary issues in his file awaiting management’s resolutions even before the inauguration of the union in the bureau.

This leader, the source said is now attempting to use unions to frustrate justice.

On the alleged insult of the commissioner by the internal union leaders, the source stated that the local union leaders insulted the Commissioner under the guise of trade unionism, adding that before the management could decide what to do about matter, NAAPE had taken the matter to the media portraying the Commissioner as a violent person.

Although the National Secretariat of AIB is believed to be reaching out to the AIB management to preempt possible sanction, the option left to the management is to decide whether it wants to dance to the union’s tune or set a bad precedent of allowing insubordination in the organisation.

To buttress his point, the source cited a situation where  the National President of NAAPE, Engr. Isaac Balami in one of his meetings with the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika  criticised all the aviation agencies’ helmsmen and openly called for the removal of the AIB’s commissioner even when NAAPE was yet to be inaugurated in the bureau.

“It is curious that the leadership of NAAPE would not fight for the general welfare of its members but rather pursues personal war against the management. Why is it that NAAPE that could not address the injustice done to its members in AIB following the recruitment done under a former minister would be fighting for members of another union?” The source asked

The source alleged that the recent issue raised against the secondment of the ATSSSAN President to AIB was a distraction and a calculated attempt to bring down Abali.

According to the source, “NAAPE has only six members in AIB, both in Lagos and Abuja offices, but we are surprised to see a union that has no footing yet in the bureau now being used by some disgruntled elements in the agency to fight the management heat up the bureau.”

Abelnews learnt that some of the unionists don’t want Okewu in AIB and they have vowed to fight him and the commissioner to a standstill for daring to accepting him, adding that ever since the association was inaugurated, it has been fighting personal battles, rather than the welfares of its members that should be the primary aim of any association or union.

“One of their members who is a Level Grade 12 officer was rude to a senior officer in the agency, which is not tolerated in the civil service rule. The same person threatened to beat up two of his colleagues at two different times, which has led to queries been issued him, too. The same officer was also rude to the CEO of this organisation about two weeks ago. Does his being a union leader give him the leverage to be rude to his superiors? The source queried

Ever since Okewu was seconded to AIB, there have been petitions flying around rejecting the development.

NAAPE had petitioned the minister protesting what it terms the inappropriate of elevation of Okewu on CONTEDISS  12 to salary Grade Level 15.

The union alleged that the promotion was unilaterally made by the Commissioner who made Okewu be promoted from CONTEDISS 12 to 15 and as a result had sent a petition to the Ministry of Transportation, claiming that the commissioner breached the civil service rules.

In a petition (Ref: NS/GS/00440/2016), titled, “Serious Infractions At  AIB Need Your Urgent Intervention” which was dated July 4, 2016 and addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, which was also copied to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

The petition which was signed by NAAPE, Deputy General Secretary, Comrade Umoh Ofonime, noted that Okewu was seconded to AIB from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria as a Principal Planning Officer on CONTEDISS 12.

NAAPE stated that it was shocked that the same person was given the headship of the Human Resources Department (HRD) and promoted to Grade Level 15, lamenting that Okewu’s new position is alien to the organogram of AIB.

“We must point out the fact that Mr. Okewu’s elevation from CONTEDISS 12 to GL 15 and from a different field; Planning, in another organisation, NCAT, was done over two other staff of the Human Resources Department, who presently are on GL 14 and due for promotion to GL 15.Chiejine Elemechi Dora (Mrs.) and Otegwu Celine Ego (Mrs.) are both Chief Admin. Officers on GL 14 in the bureau before Okewu came into the bureau on GL 15. We wonder if these facts have been disclosed to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and if the ministry actually approved such travesty” NAAPE’s petition reads in part.

NAAPE in the petition explained that Okewu’s   secondment to the AIB was discussed by the AIB management on May 14, 2016, while his secondment letter from the Ministry of Transportation read May 10, 2016, alleging that Abali had unilaterally facilitated the secondment before it was brought to the notice of the management.

NAAPE further stated in the petition that virtually all the management staff questioned Okewu’s qualification and suitability for the position of Head Human Resources, considering the fact that he has a background in Planning and was on a lower salary grade at NCAT and that there were also allegation  that due process was  not adhere to by the commissioner .

NAAPE has called on the Ministry of Transportation to immediately commence an investigation into the issue, adding that a crisis may soon erupt, as tempers are already flaring.

According to NAAPE, “We consider this unwholesome situation to be an under-the-table arrangement by both the Commissioner and Mr. Okewu and it’s a subversion of public service rules, an affront on the delegated powers of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, a calculated effort to stultify the progression of other hard working staff of AIB.”

Abelnews also got hold of a document from the Human Resources Management of the Ministry of Transportation with Reference number: FMA/PMD/0019/S.6/C.3/1/9, dated May 10, 2016, and addressed to the Commissioner of AIB, informing informed him of the approval of the Okewu’s redeployment to the bureau from NCAT for two years in the first instance from February 20, 2016.

The letter which was signed by the Director, Human Resource Management, on behalf of Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Sirika advised the agency’s boss on “strict adherence to the rules guiding secondment in the public service.”

The letter from the Ministry pointed out that Okewu was on CONTEDISS 12 at NCAT and that he was a Principal Planning Officer in the college and that the agency should adhere strictly to the rules guiding secondment in the Public Service.

The letter was signed by the director of Human Resource Management, Lawal Ibrahim  for the Aviation Minister,Senator Hadi Sirika.