ART Condemns Aviation Minister’s Last Minute Questionable Activities
…Says Action Despicable
…Urges Incoming Govt. To Review Airport Concession Under Sirika
…Reiterates Calls To Scrap Aviation Ministry
Aviation Round Table(ART) has condemned the last minute activities of the Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika barely 10 days to the end of his tenure in the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration .
The think-tank group described Sirika’s actions as capricious, despicable and unwarranted.
ART also condemned the Minister for changing the Federal Ministry of Aviation to the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace under the guise that it was approved allegedly by the outgoing Federal Executive Council(FEC).
A statement signed by the Olumide Ohunayo for ART, said that the body is convinced that the annexation of the underfunded National Aerospace Research Development Agency (NASRDA) into the Ministry of Aviation would impede the appreciable progress so far made by NASRDA under its parent ministry; the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
“We further opine that the Centre for Space Transportation and Propulsion whose activities include the sustenance of rapid advances in the propulsion systems and rocket science should not be impeded by the Ministry of Aviation’s terrestrial operations.”
The statement pointed out that this deliberate attempt to muster the NASRDA under a Ministry that the Minister of Aviation is about to leave only creates organisational confusion for the incoming administration.
The ART, the statement said, is of the view that the Aviation Ministry is already under stress with the existing workload and the departure of capable hands, and that it is not equipped to handle the additional function of Space Research and Administration.
“The ART believes that the nation will benefit tremendously if the Nigerian space agency remains an independent but properly funded organisation with the inclusion of the Minister of Aviation or his representative on its governing Board alongside other ministerial appointees as provided in Section 2 of the NASRDA Act.
“The ART could have rated the tenure of the outgoing Minister a total failure but for the fact that he did appoint capable and qualified individuals to run the various departments and agencies under him. These astute professionals in our view discharged their duties creditably well in spite of the Ministerial bottlenecks placed on their paths.”
The Elder ,Gbenga Olowo led group argued that for solid eight years the Minister of Aviation appropriated the required governance structure under his personal control by neglecting to appoint the statutory Governing Boards required to ease the functions of the agencies and parastatals under him, adding that the ART is of the opinion that this amongst other actions taken by the Minister regressed rather than grow the organisations.
The Minister’s direct control, ART, said resulted in transactional rather than functional operation of the agencies, thereby impeding their progress and his rating.
The Minister through his micromanagement activities, ART pointed out has further demonstrated the need to scrap the Ministry of Aviation and place the various departments with proper governance structures back in the Ministry of Transport, while granting independence to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under the appropriate internationally recognised structures for regulating the Nigerian aviation sector to achieve global best practices
According to ART, “Nigerian aviation requires strong institutions with solid processes and systems rather than strongmen.
On the external pressure allegedly being placed on employees of the NCAA to act contrary to the law in certain areas should be avoided at all costs, adding that the NCAA is required by ICAO guidelines to be independent.
“We consider it detrimental to the function of the NCAA and the safety of the operations in the industry when individuals are not permitted to operate according to best practices and according to the requirements of their job. We applaud the choice of officers to remain steadfast and committed and once again call for the total independence of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.”
The ART, the statement said, also remains skeptical of the purported airport concession programme under this Minister and cautions the new administration to take steps to immediately redress the issues.
According to ART, “Nigerian airports are worth more than giveaways to friends and cronies. So also is the identified need for a national carrier which ART is of the view that it should not be done at the expense of our collective benefit and joy. Nigeria Air with the word Nigeria is more than a mere word to patriotic Nigerians.”
The ART said that it remains resolute in its commitment to ensure that Nigeria has the best aviation industry where safety is foremost through consistent constructive engagement with the political leaders.