By Jimoh Babatunde with agency reports
Ministry officials have been called upon to hands off the debt recovery drive of service providers in the industry like Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
This advice was given in Lagos recently by the Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Abdul Kareem Motajo who said doing so will allow the agencies to recover debts owed them by the airlines.
Speaking on the indebtedness of most airlines to service providers in the industry, he said authorities from the Ministry are the ones disallowing the agencies and blocking them from collecting monies for services already rendered to the airlines Motajo said the ministry officials should know that the agencies don’t get subvention from the Federal Government. “It is the money they generate from services rendered that they use to maintain facilities such as the terminal buildings across the country’s airports (both viable and unviable airports), runways, navigational aids, provide power to energize various facilities and on top of it all pay salaries of staff.”
He added “We should not forget that the agencies are federal establishment and they are rendering the services on behalf of the government, so the money accruing from such Federal Government money meant to profitably sustain them and render quality services and as such no individual or airlines have the right to illegally and unnecessarily hold on to it.
“ The fact that the historic debts are not being paid contravenes the laws of the country and the Ministry rather than being supportive of the management of the agencies in their debts recovery drives, illegally cover up the airlines by giving them(agencies) conditionalities and allow the airlines to go away with unpaid debts.”
Motajo said that since the agencies render services to these airlines and if the airlines refused to pay that the agencies reserve the right to cut-off the services being rendered.
“This method had been applied severally in the past and result achieved until the Ministry started dabbling into the debts recovery measures put in place by the agencies.
“ In fact, having known that the issue of the airlines indebtedness have been published in the media several times, we want to accuse the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) of negligence in their duty because the offence committed by these airlines amounted to economic sabotage which the commission is empowered to investigate.”
Comrade Motajo argues that indebtedness of airlines to the agencies is part of the problems the industry is having with the appointments of non-professional as Minister of Aviation as most of the waivers on debts being enjoyed by the airlines are from the Minister of Aviation.
He said he will align himself with those calling for the appointment of professionals as Aviation Minister. “Aviation, being a very technically oriented industry demand the appointment of a professional as Minister. Aviation is not a local industry. It is an international industry with international set standards and these standards are bound to be respected, irrespective of politics or political leaning of government of each country.”
Comrade Motajo said a Minister who is a seasoned aviator will do a lot to properly position and improve on the standard of Aviation in Nigeria.
“In a nutshell, for progress to be made in this industry and consolidate on the progress already achieved with the attainment of Category 1 Safety status and the relentless efforts of the regulatory body-that is- Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), a seasoned aviator should be appointed Minister of Aviation.”