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Aircraft pilots warn House of Reps against interference over AOC row

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Abiola Seun

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), yesterday warned the House of Representatives not to undermine the autonomy of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), else Nigeria may loose her International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) category one status.

Speaking against the backdrop of the directive of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation asking NCAA to put on hold issuance of Air Operators’ Certificate, (AOC) to the Nigeria Eagle Airline being midwifed by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), over debts owed to all the aviation agencies by Arik Air, the president, NAAPE, Com. Abednego Galadima said the National Assembly isn’t a debt recovery agency.

According to Galadima, since Nigeria will soon be facing ICAO audit, it is unnecessary for the national assembly to meddle in an affair of an autonomous organisation like NCAA.

He said, “We have observed with keen interest the recent development in the industry where some people are attempting to undermine the autonomy of NCAA under the guise of Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, (ANAP) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) branch of the National Union of Pensioners, (NUP), through a purported petition to the National assembly.

” Section 30 of the civil aviation act 2006 clearly spelt out powers of the authority and empowers it to function without political interference. I quote ‘The Authority is empowered to regulate aviation in Nigeria without any political interference.'”

“It is also important to bring to fore that Nigeria will soon be facing ICAO’s audit and practices like this have the potential to make us under perform. It can also cause us to lose our category one status as a Nation.

“The contention on whether NCAA should give NG Eagle an AOC or not is very unnecessary and uncalled for. We see it clearly as an attempt to politically influence the NCAA’s decision on what is clearly a technical process which have outlined requirements and procedures that guides them in determining suitability or otherwise.”

“Whereas we recognize the constitutional role of the legislature to oversight the agency and is well appreciatéd but a situation where they dictate who the authority should give an AOC or not give in our opinion amount to gross political interference and this is counterproductive, it falls short of global best practices.”

“This have grave consequences on the aviation sector particularly now that the industry is counting her losses occasioned by the negative impact of covid -19 and badly need huge investments inflows to recover fully,” he said.

Galadima further called on the NCAA boss to disregard the directive of the aviation Committee by concluding the AOC’s process of the NG Eagle.

“We call on the Director- General of the NCAA to immediately conclude the process of issuing AOC to NG Eagle and grant same because information available to us shows that they have met all the requirements as stipulated by the regulation.

“We believe that NG Eagle is a very good initiative by AMCON and deserves to be given fair deal and not this unnecessary encumbrances.

” As a matter of fact, we want to commend AMCON for saving thousands of jobs in the aviation industry through their interventions in Arik Air and Aero Contractors Ltd and for the avoidance of doubt, we clearly support AMCON initiatives to float NG Eagle because we believe that it will further guarantee jobs for our members and create more opportunities for the teaming unemployed Pilots and Aircraft Engineers among others.

“Therefore, we call on the Director General of the NCAA to immediately conclude the process of issuing AOC to NG Eagle and grant same because information available to us shows that they have met all the requirements as stipulated by the regulation,” he stressed.

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