By Lawani Mikairu
It is about a year now since Captain Muhtar Usman assumed office as Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the regulatory agency of Nigeria civil aviation. Until his nomination by immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan and subsequent confirmation by The Senate, Usman was the Commisioner/CEO of the Ac cident and Investigation and Prevention Bu reau (AIB).
On assumption of office, Capt. Usman said his administration would focus on safety, security and comfort in the conduct of flight operations in and out of Nigerian airspace. He told a gathering of staff and other stakeholders at the NCAA headquarters in Lagos at a brief reception for him that “My administration would focus on safety, security and comfort in the conduct of flight operations in and out of Nigerian airspace.”
“We will be guided by An nexes of the International Civil Aviation Organiza tion (ICAO), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) and other appropri ate legislations and conven tions in line with international standard,” He therefore solicited for the support and cooperation of all the members of the Authority for the realisation of the three point agenda.
Usman also told the management and staff of NCAA that a lot of hard work will be needed for Nigeria to retain the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category One, which qualifies Nigerian registered aircraft to fly directly to the United States.
Few months after taking the saddle, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, came calling to commenced its ICAO Universal Security Audit Programme of Nigerian civil aviation .Capt.Muhtar Usman immediately called on stakeholders to join the authority in ensuring a successful outing for Nigeria. He said the objective of the audit was to determine “a states’ capability for security oversight by assessing the implementation of the critical elements of a security oversight system.”
He noted that thereafter, “recommendations would be provided for contracting states to improve their security systems and oversight capabilities” adding that stakeholders should assist the agency to ensure another successful outing similar to the preceding Audit of 2008.” The ICAO Auditors comprising of four (4) members, namely: Karen Zadoyan, Steven Neu, Nuno Miguel Silva Ferreira Fortes and Wendy Mueller.
arrived Lagos to look at the following areas : “Regulatory Framework and the National Civil Aviation Security System, training of Aviation Security Personnel, Quality Control Functions, Airport Operations, Aircraft and In-flight Security. Passenger and Baggage Security” The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) being the nation’s statutory regulatory Authority responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of National Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP) was at the centre of the audit.
The Audit which ran for about nine (9) days, and terminated on the 9th of June, 2014 saw the International Civil Aviation Organisation , ICAO, giving Nigeria a pass mark. ICAO said Nigeria was given a pass mark after the thorough audit because the audit team discovered there have been massive improvements in the security systems at the airports.
The leader of the team of the ICAO auditors, Mr. Steven Neu said that Nigeria performed excellently in the 9 days audit and scored a pass mark of 90 percent stressing that he was very impressed with the National Security Programme as there were very minimal open items to be closed. He said, “Nigeria surpassed our expectations. We reviewed the 2008 audit before we commenced this exercise but we discovered there have been massive improvements in the security systems at the airports.”
‘’To Nigeria’s credit all the minimal open items were closed immediately. The audit was focussed on the eight critical elements”. he added. According to him, Nigeria is one of the first countries in the world to go through the Universal Safety Audit Programme ,USAP, Continuous Monitoring Assessment ,CMA, Audit.
“After 60 days ICAO will forward the USAP CMA audit report to Nigeria. In 30 days, Nigeria will submit its comments on the audit report if any. Within another 30 days, the country will submit to ICAO its Corrective Action Plan (CAP)” he said. An elated Capt. Usman revealed that he was happy that Nigeria performed better than she did in 2008 adding that the country would not rest on her oars but will continue to ensure that our air transport operation is secure and safe.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA , will soon commence preparation for the ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) coming up in November, later this year”. “While the USAP takes cognisance of states’ security at the airports, the ultimate goal of USOAP is promoting global aviation safety through regular audits of safety oversight systems in all ICAO member states” Capt. Usman affirmed.
The handover notes given to Usman by his predecessor also contained a brief on the challenges confronting the Authority in areas of being able to retain skilled and qualified staff in sufficient numbers, indebtedness to the Authority by Airlines, shortage of accommodation for staff, Shortage of funds for training and the on-going efforts to review the subsisting Service Charge.
To tackle some of these challenges and boost the morale of staff, the DG ensured that the group Life Insurance of staff was up dated and premium promptly paid. Confirming this development in a recent interview, the Director of Finance and Accounts of NCAA, Alhaji Salawu Nuhu Ozigi said “ Yes, staff are insured. They are insured and we renew the policy annually. In addition, I will like to say the management has Group Life Insurance policy for all the staff”
“This group life insurance is very key for the family of the deceased officers. Because It is from there that they get some of their allowances, terminal payment that is due to them. The Authority also pays the premium for group life insurance promptly”.
To solve the cash crush suffered by the agency due to the indebtedness of airlines to the authority, NCAA, last week issued a 14 days ultimatum to all debtors airlines to pay up the five (5) per cent Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) and Cargo Sales Charge (CSC) to the authority. The Authority said that erring airlines would be sanction at the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum stressing that failure to comply with the directive of remittance of the outstanding payments; the Authority shall enforce the provisions of section 27(3) of the Civil Aviation Act.
Usman said that “NCAA would take all measures contained therein to enforce the collection of the debts.” He added that the ultimatum was a final notice to all erring airline operators noting that, at the expiration of the ultimatum, the names of the debtors airlines would be published in most of the national dailies if they refuse to comply.
He said “ In addition, the names of the debtor airlines and amount owed shall be published in at least five national dailies. The names of the promoters of these airlines, directors and other related parties will be included in the publication upon the expiration of this ultimatum.”
He pointed out that the offending airlines have failed to offset the accumulated debts despite several appeals, reconciliation meetings, visits and reminders. “The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) wishes to reiterate to the Airlines that section 12(1) of the Civil Aviation Act.2006 provides that “there shall continue to be a 5% air ticket contract, charter and cargo sales charge to be collected by the Airlines and paid over to the Authority.”
Importantly, the Authority wishes to inform the general public that the 5% Ticket /Cargo Sales Charge represents charges collected at source from the travelling public by Airlines on behalf of the Civil Aviation Agencies.” he added. “In addition, NCAA will continue to implement the “no payment no service” financial policy to ensure complete clearance of the indebtedness to the authority.” he affirmed.
The Nigeria civil aviation also recently got a boost as the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, has listed Nigeria as one of the 14 countries in Africa that have achieved effective air safety implementation, above the global average of 61 percent. “This rating is contained in the ICAO 2013 Safety Report, compiled by ICAO auditors who investigated the compliance with stipulated International safety standards by individual countries across the world, especially its 200 member countries.”
“The ICAO 2013 Safety Report lends credence to the Category I certification granted Nigeria in 2011 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States, for meeting stipulated international standards and practices on safety and security.”