NIGERIA is, unfortunately, a country that operates a reactive government. While other progressive countries plan and sustainably implement policies to develop, give their citizens better life and make their countries attractive to the world, ours most of the time only swing into action when things have gone wrong.
This same ludicrous attitude showed up in the aviation sector for the best part of January and February 2020 when heavy Harmattan haze enveloped the entire West African sub-region. This led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights in the country’s airports, with the attendant costs, inconvenience and suffering for stranded air travellers.
Worse still, flights coming into the country from other parts of the world had to be diverted to the Kotoka International Airport, Accra Ghana. Mind you, Ghana was also involved in the severe dusty weather, and yet its aviation industry continued to operate effectively enough to shoulder the burden of our own failed industry.
The diversions were done due to the fact that the Instrument Landing Systems, ILS, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja Lagos were not functioning.
Because of that, air travellers to Nigeria were made to spend several days in Accra. While some were taken back to their originating airports when the situation could not improve, others had to complete their travel to Lagos by road.
The Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika later informed angry Nigerians that the Instrument Landing Systems were actually installed in Lagos, Abuja and other airports but could not be properly calibrated before the bad weather set in.
This explanation did not go down well with aviation experts and industry stakeholders who sourly recalled another fiasco under Sirika as minister. Nigeria’s effort to float a national carrier had to be suspended in September 2018 after hundreds of millions of dollars had gone down the drain.
It is good to know that the appropriate Federal Government agency responsible for the installation and maintenance of the ILS in Nigeria – the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, – has finally woken up after the scandal.
NAMA’s Managing Director, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, has announced that the installation and calibration of the Category III Instrument Landing Systems which can enable aircraft to land safely under poor visibility conditions have been concluded in Abuja and Lagos international airports.
Also, the Doppler VOR and distance measuring equipment and Cat II Instrument Landing Systems are being installed in some of the nation’s 14 airports. We hope the last has been heard of this shameful situation in our aviation industry. It is a pity that this kind of thing will happen and nobody is brought to account.
Without appropriate sanctions meted out to erring officials, how can there be deterrence? Why won’t this happen again?