• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

An appeal to nullify the ongoing open-hearing on the proposed amendments of Nigeria Aviation Bills

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As the CEO of Nigeria’s leading aviation consulting company, l have observed with pains the possibilities that the current efforts by the Federal Ministry of Aviation to review and amend (with new introductions) the extant bills of the nation’s aviation agencies might lead to irredeemable chaos if made effective immediately.

This is due primarily to – 1) Segregated Representations; and 2) Poor Conception of the amendments as seen – the intended amendments which are improperly-tilted and obnoxious to the existing industry acts.

It might interest you all to note that there are several negative debates against the necessity of the ongoing public-hearing on the bills regarding the six(6) agencies of the Nigeria aviation industry. There has been outright non-observance of established rules governing such fundamental changes and this gives room for questioning the integrity, necessity, objectivity and sincerity of the hearing at times like this. Moreso – the limited time provided for inputs and debates on the proposed amendments on the house floors are insufficient for stakeholders to drive home their points given the very technical nature of the operations and issues of the industry.

Hence – lawmakers might not be sufficiently briefed to comprehend the issues as they stand during the open-hearing sessions.

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If therefore left unchecked and allowed free passage (as being drummed), the all-important aviation industry stands the risk of having a mixture of polices not tempered by sound judgment and are likely to spark-off unrests and protests by employees, operators and aviation labour unions in future.

As critical partners in our democracy (who Nigerians hold in high esteem), allowing this bill free passage would be nothing but abominable and an outrage against posterity,. As already observed in the proposed amendments, the outlined contradictions cannot be allowed to slip undeterred through the hallowed chambers of the 9th Nigeria National Assembly.

It can also be affirmed that most of the representatives of the agencies at the the ongoing hearing are not happy being constrained to keep straight faces for fear of being victimized for their contrary views during the open-hearing. It is noteworthy -that most of the proposed changes to FAANs Act never considered the ‘Job Security and Post-Employment interests of FAAN employees. Also, available documents on the proposed ‘Airport Concession and PENCOM Scheme’ already pose sufficient threats to the employees of FAAN as the new amendments (and concession) are primed to rob FAAN employees of their long years of service-savings ‘already deducted from their salaries but not remitted to either PENCOM or any of the PFA’s in excess of 160 Billion Naira in actuarial value’.

In view of all the above already circulated observations and in the interest of Nigeria, Nigerians, it is hereby suggested that this Public-Hearing be aborted to allow for a wider stakeholder involvement and contributions to the proposed Aviation Agencies’ Bills.

When adopted, the final product of properly re-convened public-hearing sessions for the intended amendments would be a true reflection of the wills and desires of the critical stakeholders of the industry. This would principally justify the trusts reposed in you by the electorates as you would helped safeguard, preserve and uphold our national heritage against ‘ interests’ capable of running the industry aground through improper amendments to extant bills and pre-meditated privatization of national infrastructure in the guise of airports concessioning.

From all indications, the bane of this discussion is nothing but a quest to expose ‘masqueraded imposition of amendments’ lacking basic industry justifications but desiring legislative concurrence from the respected chambers of the national assembly.

While respectively lacking merits, the highly contentious proposed aviation bills for amendments are legislative traps for the combined chambers of the national assembly which (when and if fallen-for) would (in no small measure) dent the integrity, objectivity and posterity of the legislature.

As a legalistic aviation consultant of repute, there are wild speculations that the conventional protocols for bill passage are being by-passed to make only one house decide for the two houses. This ‘short-circuited Parliament Resolution Vehicle’ (a procedure where only one house approves for both houses) remains an affront on both the integrity and principles of natural justice; and thus – avails sufficient grounds to challenge the documents so approved in future.

Not minding the inconsequential intentions so outlined, the Nigerian people are however confident that you would do your best as a ‘Honourable Legislatures’ to protect the national interest of the people of Nigeria whose interests necessitates this letter.

As a voice of the people, I am counting on the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Aviation’s high sense of public service spirit to uphold the principles of natural justice which guarantees the followings to every Nigerian and by extension – every player in the aviation sector:-

• Right to Fair Hearing – Unfortunately this was already compromised by the selective invitation of participants for the hearing according to the whims and caprices of some interested parties. World-over – ‘anyone with vested interest in the industry has a right (and should thus be notified and permitted) to attend the hearing whenever scheduled to so speak or defend himself.

Unfortunately – what we witnessed recently were ‘Open Hearings’ by tele-guided invitations that negates the very meaning and essence of such session.

• Biased Rule – There is no doubt that the outcomes of the ongoing hearing will be tainted by ‘avoidable Bias’ (not of your making though) resulting from screening processes that challenge the necessity for an unbiased decision. I sincerely appeal that you look beyond the herd arguments and see-through the motives expressed therein. It would however be unjust to overlook the value of fair representation in the review of the contents of bills that seek to serve a sensitive sector as – aviation. If there were no bias, how can anyone explain why the Bills before you today are being seen and read for the first time by most of the members of the management teams of the affected agencies including their legal department personnel whose considerations and contributions should have been harvested earlier?

Your Duty of Care – You are to evoke and evolve ‘Reasoned Decisions’ desiring sufficient grounds to ‘thread with cautions’ until the proponents of these BILLs provide valid and objective grounds for the amendments and the introductions so proposed.

I implore the committee(s) responsible for this ‘Open-hearing’ to allow for ample opportunities for a consensus to be reached on the plethora of thorny issues in the proposed Bills by a wider aviation stakeholder’s forum before the matter is represented for your approval.

This would help avoid ‘policy summersaults’ embedded in the contentious amendments to Nigeria Aviation Agencies’ Bills so proposed.

The Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Aviation
owe almighty God a duty to be –‘the voice of the voiceless’; and by their willingness ‘to make personal sacrifices today’ as a guarantee of the future of Nigerians yet unborn.

Daniel Young
CEO Turtle Aviation