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NG Eagle: Na’Allah warns against political interference on autonomy of NCAA

Bala Ibn Na’Allah, a member of the Senate Committee on Aviation has warned against political interference on the autonomy of the NCAA in carrying out its duties.

This is as the senator said that the committee was misinformed on its directive to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to suspend the issuance of the Air Operators’ Certificate to the startup carrier, NG Eagle Airlines.

The senator stated this on Wednesday in Abuja during the 50th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

Na’Allah said that the committee was misled on the controversial issue of NG Eagle AOC and apologised to Nigerians.

Also, he charged the NCAA to go ahead with its duties and perform its statutory functions of the industry as the regulators without interference.

He said: “The Senate does not wish to interfere in the statutory functions of the NCAA.”

The Senate Committee in a letter signed by its Chairman, Smart Adeyemi had last week, directed the NCAA to suspend the ongoing issuance of AOC to NG Eagle Airline.

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The letter dated October 11, 2021, and addressed to the Director-General, NCAA, said that the directive was necessary following the huge debts of Arik Air to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other government agencies in the sector.

But, the directive was condemned by stakeholders and associations in the sector who insisted that it was tantamount to political interference on the statutory functions of the NCAA by the Senate.

Aviation Round Table (ART) in a statement expressed dismay at the level of political interference on safety issues by politicians.

The statement signed by Gbenga Olowo, President, ART, insisted that the various legislations that established aviation and allied agencies in Nigeria stipulated their roles and areas of competence, adding that the NCAA Act prescribed its role as the apex regulator of activities in the sector.

It emphasised that in order to effectively perform its tasks, the statute empowers the regulator and its Board needed as a matter of urgency to have oversight for optimal performance without compromising its role as enforcer of international Standards and Recommended Practices and other state responsibilities.

It declared that the recent actions of the members of the National Assembly undermined and whittled the powers granted to the NCAA, recalling that there had been similar acts of interference in the past.

Also speaking at the function, Fola Akinkuotu, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) promised that the aeronautical allowances of workers of the agency would be enhanced to reflect the economic situation in the country.

Akinkoutu also expressed worry over the death rate among Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) in the last few years, saying that the management was alive to its responsibility in areas of workers’ welfare.

Besides, Rabiu Yadudu, the Managing Director FAAN in his goodwill message, acknowledged the contributions of ATCs to air safety in the country and urged them to continue to put in their best for the safety of the industry.

Earlier, Abayomi Agoro, President, NATCA, expressed delight at the gradual return of aviation to the pre-Covid-19 level.

Agoro called on the government to reciprocate the good gestures and sacrifices made by the service providers and safety personnel in the aviation industry by looking into the various challenges in the industry with a view to finding lasting solutions to them.

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