The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) is one of the agencies of government saddled with the responsibility of investigating accidents and incidents whenever they occur for the purpose of making recommendations that will prevent a recurrence.
The bureau headed by a commissioner prior to now had suffered negative criticisms from key players following the manner it handled reports of many crashes which occurred years back.
Many of such crashes which happened for years are yet to have their final reports made known, a situation which has made the bureau to be constantly accused of hiding facts.
Though, the bureau had for many at times tried to correct the wrong impression by explaining the processes entailed in investigating an accident/incident, coming up with findings, ensuring the due process is followed before throwing it to the public opinion.
As sensitive as the job of the bureau is, many within the sector still believe the bureau had not done much in this area.
The good news is that this negative impressions are gradually being replaced with high hope of confidence being placed on the bureau since the appointment of a new commissioner to head the AIB.
It is no longer news that the new man at the helms of affairs at the bureau is Mr Akin Olateru, whose experience in aviation spanned through 25 years.
Therefore, while the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika was faulted in some appointments he made recently, majority of key players have supported the appointment of Olateru as the new AIB boss.
Contrary to the past appointments made by past ministers whereby personnel brought from outside could not perform as it took them months or even years to learn on the job, the appointment of the AIB Commissioner has attested to the position of stakeholders on why a ‘neophyte’ should not be appointed into key positions in the sector.
Within the short period the new AIB Commissioner was appointed, the first thing he did which attracted commendations was the release of the final report of four crashes particularly that of Dana Air which happened five years ago killing 153 people.
Others released alongside include crashes involving: OAS, Bristow and Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS) even as he promised to release more.
The release of the final reports which his predecessor(s) found difficult to achieve has only gone to indicate what next to expect from the bureau in the nearest future.
The ability of Olateru to hit the ground running immediately he was appointed was made possible because he has found himself in a familiar terrain which will speedily shore up the image of the aviation sector whose accident investigation bureau prior to now had suffered image problem.
Commenting on the release of the four reports, Captain Dele Ore, the former President of Aviation Round Table (ART) cum aviation lawyer, declared: “The record already speaks for itself. It is no longer a secret which we have been denied for so long of accident reports. I doff my hat for the Commissioner when in one single swoop he recently released four accident reports. This is unprecedented, setting records straight; an indication that the truth must always prevail. The Dana report which for no reason was becoming controversial because of large number of casualties and circumstances was released to my admiration and made us have insight to what happened and what did not happen. I am most excited by the final report which now has safety recommendations.”
One obvious lesson for the minister in this scenario is that if only more round pegs are put in round holes within the sector, majority of the problems bedevilling the sector would be immensely reduced.
Agreed that there are one or two chief executives who though were appointed within the sector but failed to perform, but one obvious thing is that aviation sector is a ‘no go area’ for non performers or loafers.
Without doubt, with the present goodwill the minister has being enjoying with what stakeholders described as the right choice he made in AIB, he would have realized by now that those asking him to tread cautiously in making appointments into key areas within the sector are those who do not want him to fail.
It is hoped that the minister will henceforth, use the example of what is happening at the AIB as a parameter to making subsequent appointments into key areas within the sector. The sector can not afford to accommodate more liabilities in view of the myriad of challenges hanging on its neck presently.