By UDEME CLEMENT
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), under the leadership of Mr. Joyce Nkemakolam, to separate politics from important issues of safety in the aviation industry.
The Assistant Secretary General of AON, Alhaji Mohammed Tukur , gave this advice, stressing that the recent statement from NCAA about plane belonging to Rivers State and allegedly operating illegally showed gross lack of professionalism.
He told Sunday Vanguard, “Such a statement coming from a recognised regulatory agency like the NCAA means Nigeria does not even deserve the Category-One certification the country has. The statement sounds so political because a plane that has been operating since it was brought into the country till this moment could not have been flying illegally. Such practice is not possible. You can see confusion in the whole thing and the angle the statement is coming from.
“The Federal Government must realise that aviation is a very important sector and priority must be given to safety in all ramifications. I am calling on the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, to approve the appointment of the current director general of NCAA.
The reason being that, such a parastatal must not be left like that, and the director general of such an important agency must not be in acting capacity. It does not make sense in any way and operators in other countries will not take Nigeria seriously.”
On whether the industry needs another financial bailout, he said, “The sector does not need any bailout now. We had cases of some local operators who collected huge sums of money as bailout to resuscitate their operations but they still went under at the end of the day. What the local airlines need is full implementation of the waiver on spare parts and importation of airplanes without payment of duty. Also, the issue of aviation hanger must be given serious consideration.”