SQUARE PEGS IN ROUND HOLES: GOVT SET TO PROBE UNAUTHORISED EMPLOYMENT OF 3000 AVIATION STAFF BETWEEN 2011 &2013

The Federal Government is set to probe over 3,000 jobs that were allegedly done without due process between 2011 and 2013 in the aviation industry. The investigation came hours after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) disclosed that the new Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs), promulgated in December 2015, would take effect from July 1, 2016.AMAECHI

Already, a circular has been sent to the Chief Executive Officers of all the agencies that comprise the NCAA, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

The verification exercise could lead to the sacking of many whose qualifications do not lead to the positions they currently occupy. As many as over a thousand could be asked to go with the government giving attention to technical areas of operations that are understaffed, according to a director in one of the agencies.

A top official of one of the agencies, who pleaded anonymity, told New Telegraph that the government was worried over the dearth of skilled professionals in virtually all the agencies.

A former Minister of Aviation and now a senator, Stella Oduah had, while she held sway, reportedly caused employment of close to 2,000 people, most of them said to be support staff, while there are not enough air traffic engineers, aircraft inspectors and air traffic controllers.

Record shows that over 300 persons were recruited into AIB when there were practically no vacancies. Many of them had no offices and only came to work when they wished to come while drawing salaries from the agency.

The faulty appointments were not limited to AIB. Record equally shows that many of the recruits who just graduated from universities less than five years ago were promoted over and above those who have served the agencies.

Some were hurriedly appointed Assistant General Managers (AGMs) while very few ended as directors in many of the parastatals. Many others were appointed as contract staff; a situation that hurt career progression of many staff who were supposed to rise through the ranks.

For the NCAA, there is serious shortage of aircraft inspectors. This situation has, in no small measure, put a lot of pressure on the agency in its oversight functions as a regulatory agency. Former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) welcomed government’s decision on the exercise. He said: “I support this because a lot of things went wrong with the employment of so many people who do not have business in aviation in the first place.

The method of employment was very faulty. You need professionals, technical people to run these agencies. “FAAN is deficient with aviation security personnel. NAMA is about 300 deficient in air control management as a result of dearth of air traffic controllers.

When last were these people trained?” A former Assistant Secretary-General of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur, also said it was high time the government took the decision to carry out the verification exercise.

He said if need be, some of them who have skills could be relocated to other critical areas of the sector. The verification exercise is coming at a time air traffic controllers, under the aegis of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), recently raised the alarm over the shortage of air traffic controllers in the country.

Meanwhile, NCAA yesterday disclosed that the new Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) promulgated in December 2015 will take effect from July 1. The new NIG.CARs were contained in a Circular Ref: NCAA/DG/ AOL/21/16/01 sent to all airline operators last month.

Spokesman for the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said that whilst all operators are in possession of the copies of the regulations, the interregnum between April and the commencement date is a permissible transitional period.

He noted that during this time, all stakeholders are expected to acquaint themselves with the contents therein for seamless implementation. The process of review was set in motion to align Nig.CARs with recent International Civil Aviation Organisations (ICAO) amendments and industry observations received by the Authority.

In other words, the reviewed Nig.CARs is to ensure a completion of the Annexes. Provisions have, therefore, been made for economic and consumer protection regulations – that were hitherto not incorporated in the 2009 edition.

Adurogboye reiterated that in addition, the NCAA decided on the review to standardise the operational procedures, implementation and enforcement in the industry. He said: “All these have been done in conformity with the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) as contained in the Annexes to the Chicago Convention.”

The new Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations 2015 has 19 parts comprising General Policies and Definitions, Personnel Licensing, Aviation Training Organisations, Registration and Marketing, Airworthiness, Approved Maintenance Organisations, Instrument and Equipment, Operations, Air Operator Certification and Administration and Commercial Air Transport by Foreign Air Carrier within Nigeria.

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