By Adekunle Williams/Solomon Asowata
Stakeholders in the Aviation Industry on Tuesday said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had performed well in the last three years.
The stakeholders in the aviation sector made the assertion while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Those who spoke with NAN were the President, Aviation RoundTable Iniative (ARTI), Mr Gbenga Olowo, the immediate past president of the group, Capt. Dele Ore (rtd) and another aviation expert, Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd).
Olowo said that the process of bringing in reforms was always cumbersome, adding that the government had been making positive impacts in that regard.
“From the angle of aviation, on the average I think they have done well because we had an emergency with the Abuja International Airport, they gave their words and they delivered. Kudos to them,” he said.
Olowo told NAN that other plans of the administration, particularly the establishment of a new national carrier, the aircraft leasing company and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, would transform the industry.
Olowo added that ‘Transaction Advisers’ had been appointed to midwife the processes, stressing that the government had also given a target that the national carrier should be in operation by December.
Also, Ojikutu noted that safety of the Nigerian airspace had improved under the administration.
He maintained that safety was a critical aspect of aviation, which was often not given the desired priority by past governments.
He said: “In terms of safety, I think the government is doing a good job. It is not visible to people but it is visible to some of us.
“You can look at the amount of safety recommendations that have come out from Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and compared it with three years ago.
“You can look at what they have done at the Abuja airport. We have been managing that airport runway since 2010 and many foreign aircraft have lost their tyres and their undercarriage.
“I am looking at that and we have been talking about it since 2010. They made an attempt in 2010 and another attempt in 2014 but it didn’t work but this administration resolved the issue within six weeks in 2017.”
According to him, the government also went ahead to rehabilitate the runways of the Enugu and Port Harcourt airports.
Ojikutu said when Dana Air had two successive incidents a few months back, the president immediately directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to audit the airline, which clearly showed his commitment to safety.
He added that the government had also procured more navigational aids for airports while the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) had intensified their calibration.
On his part, Ore said the government had given the NCAA more freedom to perform its functions unlike what was obtained in the past administrations.
He said the Civil Aviation Act 2006 provides that the NCAA should be allowed an unfettered opportunity to oversight the industry without undue interference from any quarters.
According to him, previous administrations did not to allow the Director-General of NCAA to perform.
“I think I can more or less praise the government for allowing the people who know how to do the job to go ahead and do it but in the past the National Assembly will want to interfere.
“They should allow the agencies to do their jobs and if they should allow this to continue, they are creating an atmosphere where there will be no accident and that is the objective of civil aviation.”
He also commended the government for the successful rehabilitation of the Abuja Airport runway which according to him had been a huge threat to safety due to neglect by past administrations.
Ore urged the government to consolidate on its promise by establishing more Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities in at least five or six states, across the country to create jobs for Nigerians.