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Lamentations Over Non-Existence of Aviation BoDs

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…as stakeholders call for institution of boards with dispatch

Stakeholders in the Aviation Industry have lamented the non-existence of Aviation board of directors and called on the Aviation Minister, Sen. Hadi Sirika, to inaugurate the boards with dispatch.

Six years after his appointment as the Minister of State for Aviation, and subsequently, Minister of Aviation, Capt. Hadi Sirika, was yet to set up a Board of Directors in the Industry regardless of approvals from the federal government.

President Muhammadu Buhari about four years ago, approved the appointment of boards of directors to five out of the six agencies in the Sector, while the former Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, about three years also ago gave a deadline for the inauguration of the board members, but in spite of the approvals and directives, Sirika did not yield to the call.

The agencies with board of directors, according to the Acts setting them up are the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), while Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) does not have a board of directors.

President Buhari had in 2018 through a circular signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha announced Dr. Yakubu Lame, Abdullahi Gashu’a, Capt. Ibraheem Olugbade, as members of Board of Directiors for NAMA; Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Akingbesote Akinyeye, Suleiman Mohammed and Bello Baburafor FAAN; Mrs. Deborah Iliyas and Chie Simon Owhofa for NCAT; then Otunba J.F. Faleke and Dr. Chichi Ashwe for NiMET.

Stakeholders In their lamentations described the undue delay to the institution of the agencies’ board of directors as illegal and disregard to extant laws, portraying lack of transparency and accountability in operations of the Industry.

Oshiomhole at the time, said members of board of government agencies and institutions appointed by the President must be inaugurated, noting that some ministers had taken undue advantage of the President’s fatherly disposition.

He said it was illegal for a minister in a democracy to prey the powers of the board because the laws establishing those institutions are clear, that the boards have procedures to follow.

“And it is absolutely illegal. So, when a minister sits in his office to appropriate the powers of the board in a democracy, not in a dictatorship and award contracts that didn’t go through boards, those are clearly abuse of office for which they are liable. I am convinced that what they are doing is not with the endorsement of Mr. President.

“If the minister refuses we will suspend him from the party. You know we must return to internal discipline.

“For me it is the height of mischief for any minister, you cannot purport to be honourable minister and you act dishonorably and nobody is greater than the party.

“And if the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party. And we will expel the minister.

“We will prevail on the President that he can’t keep in his cabinet people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been ministers.

“There are no independent candidate in our system, nobody, I emphasis no minister is above the party,” Oshiohmole had stated

President Aviation Round Table (ART), Dr. Gbenga Olowo, in a statement early in the year said that the failure of the Minister to inaugurate the boards for the aviation agencies can cast a thick shadow on transparency, accountability and responsibility in the Sector.

Olowo pointed out that due to the nature of professionalism in the Aviation Sector, its critical nature together with safety issues, there is the fundamental need to have boards of directors for prompt decision-making.

He explained that interim boards can fill administrative vacuum, but that agencies are not contemplated to run without functional boards for periods exceeding three months.

“ART is of the view that Aviation Sector policymakers adopt the international aviation best corporate governance for the promotion of safety,” he stated, while calling on the Minister to institute aviation boards with dispatch.

“Sirika should as a matter of urgency inaugurate boards of directors for the respective agencies in order to avoid continuous breach of rules by the Minister,” Olowo urged.

On his part, the General Secretary, Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Abdulrazaq Saidu, said the failure of the Minister to inaugurate boards of directors for the agencies indicates disregard to the rule of laws.

According to him, ANAP for instance has written numerous letters to Sirika to remind him of this oversight, but he has failed to respond to any of our letters on the issue.

“Aviation workers were suffering because of the several actions of the Minister since he came on board.

“For instance, training of personnel has been relegated to the background in recent years,” Saidu pointed out.

Also lamenting the immediate past General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye, said the non-inauguration of the boards shows that something is actually wrong in the Sector.

He said: “Since the Acts setting up the agencies stipulate that they should have board of directors; the Minister ought to have set them up immediately they were appointed by President Buhari.

“The Minister may have willfully delayed their inauguration in order to continue to have influence on the agencies.”

Olayinka posited that Sirika must have refused to set up the boards with impunity in order to continue exercising control over the affairs of the agencies.

“The implication is that the minister wants to still control the happenings in the parastatals. You are aware that by the Acts establishing these agencies, they are supposed to report to a board and in the absence of a board, the Minister takes charge.

“So, if the Minister has the audacity to set aside the directive of Mr. President, it goes to show that something is definitely wrong with our system.

“The Minister and the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have a limit on what they can approve and spend without recourse to the boards of directors.

“Some of his activities over the years indicate that he has flagrantly disobeyed the extant rules for the Industry,” he noted.

However, the Minister defending his action said he could not swear in board members because of the appointment of non-professionals which according to him, negates the Act governing agencies in the Aviation Industry.

He stressed that the federal government did not allegedly consider this when announcing their compositions

But stakeholders maintain that Sirika ought to have met with appropriate authorities to discuss the alleged appointment of non-professionals into the board, rather he has continued to pilot the affairs of the Industry without recourse to any board whatsoever.

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