…As Labour demands inclusion on aviation agencies’ boards, Kicks against interim ones
By Tordue Salem, Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, said on Tuesday that the green chamber will undertake a total overhaul of aviation laws, to make the sector more profitable and effective.
The speaker said the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency, (NIMET) the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and the regulatory body: Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), are far from meeting up with the international best practices hence the need to amend and bring them in conformity with the international best standards.
The Speaker made his remarks at a public hearing on six key aviation bills, as the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC demanded to be included on boards of the six aviation agencies, and kicked against interim boards, proposed in the bills.
The bills under review by the House, are a) A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (Establishment Etc.) Act, 2003 and to enact the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Act to Provide for the Regulation of Meteorology and Related Matters (HB.464)
“a bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act, CAP. N96 LFN, 2010 and to enact the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Bill to Provide for its Organisation, Control and Operation and for Related Matters (HB.463), a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Act, CAP N90 LFN, 2010 and to enact the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Act for the purposes of Providing Effective Air Navigation Services in Nigeria, Ensuring Safety and Regularity of Air Navigation Services and for Related Matters (HB.462), a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and to enact the Civil Aviation Act, for the Regulation of Civil Aviation in Nigeria and for Related Matters (HB.460), A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau for the Regulation, Prevention and Providing Effective Administration for Safety Investigation in Nigeria and for Related Matters (HB.465), A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act, CAP F5, LFN, 2010 and to enact the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Act to Provide for the Effective Management of Airports in Nigeria and Related Matters (HB.461)”.
According to him, “it is imperative to note that the development of our aviation industry is an added advantage to the growth of our economy. It is in this vein that the House of Representatives will continue to support the total rehabilitation and upgrading of our airports and allied services.
“The consideration of these Bills during this Public Hearing is a testament to our commitment to give new life to the aviation sector and make our airports to be a better non-oil revenue-generating sector as is witnessed in other advanced economies”.
Chairman of the Committee on Aviation, Rep. Nnolim Nnaji, in his opening remarks, said the Committee will do its best to accommodate all views from all sectors and expedite the review of the laws.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, in his remarks at the public hearing, recalled that the “The journey to the proposal for amendments of the laws establishing agencies under the Nigeria civil Aviation commenced as a result of funding in the International Civil Aviation /ICAO) universal Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) in the year 2006 as well as finding in the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category [Certification Audit in the year 2010 that the establishment Acts of some of the aviation services providers contain
He explained that “Whereas the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should be the only and autonomous regulator of the Civil Aviation in Nigeria. Thus, Nigeria was requested and agreed to take corrective action to address the audit findings.
“Consequently, a committee involving the relevant stakeholders was constituted by me to review the establishment Acts of the six Aviation Agencies, not only to close the audit findings by removing regulatory powers from service provider agencies but also to bring the respective Acts up to date with development in International Civil Aviation, separate powers among the agencies, facilitate the upgrade of NCAT to Degree awarding institution, give NIMET the Leverage to commercialize some of its products, remove impediments Into smooth running of the functions of all the agencies and ensure seamless coexistence between the agencies, encourage the agencies to initiate avenue of generating revenue, etc”.
According to him, “After series of meetings and deliberations by the Committee the six (6) draft Bills were produced. The draft Bills were then cleared by the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Federal Executive Council before their Transmission to the National Assembly by Mr. President.
“ We have earlier on appeared before the appropriate committee of this Honourable after the transmission of this Bill by His Excellency the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the National Assembly and submitted a written report detailing the reasons behind this request for the repeal and reenactment of these Acts.
“ The time table of the Committee sitting today indicated that we are starting with Nigerian Metrological Agency (NIMET) and the College of Aviation Technology Zaria (NCAT). Let me use this occasion to briefly state the history of the emergence of these two agencies”.
On the NIMET Bill, he said “In the course of carrying out the statutory functions of the agency, it was observed that there is need to reposition NIMET for the effective performance of its duties. There is a need to enact an Act that will unequivocally give the Agency the sole authority to regulate, license, approve and authorize the standard of Meteorological activities and operation in Nigeria”.
For the NCAT, the Minister told the Committee, that the wish of the executive, is to “empower NCAT to be able to award diploma, Degree and other relevant aviation courses and training as it is done in other jurisdiction”.
The president of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, however, called on the House Committee to expunge Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act, because according to him, “airline business, cannot be described by any stretch of thought, as essential service”.
According to him, “Nigeria’s Labour laws have already defined what essential services means and has invested the powers to regulate industrial issues including essential services, on the Minister of Labour and employment. It would be nebulous, double jeopardy, counterproductive and a matter of conflict of interest to make a list of essential services under the Civil Aviation Act and to assign the powers of interpreting and assigning essential services to the Minister of Aviation”.
The NLC also demanded the inclusion of Labour unions on “six Aviation Agencies”.
He said this is “In furtherance of the need to protect, promote and defend the interest of Nigerian workers in this very important sector and to minimize occasions for industrial conflicts”.
He also kicked against “the provision for interim boards in the bills of the aviation agencies, is anathema to the public good”, adding that “A situation that allows the minister of aviation (with the ministry’s permanent secretary and the head of each agency) to directly superintendent over the agencies, as Board Chairman, even for an interim period, completely defeats accountability and the doctrine of the delegation of powers”.