Nigeria’s Senate should avoid creating more panic for travellers

THE Nigeria’s Senate last Thursday precisely warned against what it called imminent plane crashes in the country if nothing was urgently done to reposition the country’s aviation sector.

The alert followed a motion tagged; “Disturbing Development in the Nigerian Aviation Industry” by Senator Dino Melaye which was backed by Senator Godswill Akpabio.

The outburst has continued to generate negative criticisms across the sector.

While the National Assembly has the right to its observations particularly in the area of adopting policies and making laws through the process of deliberation which are the bedrock of good governance, it becomes worrisome when the upper chamber decides to complicate issues affecting the aviation sector under the pretense of finding solutions.

It is true that all is not well with airline business and even the sector in general, but for the upper chamber to come out to shout of imminent plane crashes is a disservice to the country’s aviation sector.

In the first instance, in the cause of making such a statement, the lawmakers have succeeded in creating panic and indicting the aviation authorities especially the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as the regulatory body before the global body.

No wonder the latest reaction to the senators’ gaffe, came from the Managing Director, Centurion Security Services and a one time Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) who lashed at the Senators for playing God.

According to him, the National Assembly and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority  cannot absolve themselves from any plane mishaps which causes are traced to poor maintenance and lack of foreign exchange.

“The NASS alarm for me is a smart way to shield itself from any blame as a result of air mishap. The NASS and the NCAA to a large extent, are part of the problems. They can’t be raising alarm when they have not been seeing to have done the needful.

“Let me repeat myself again here as l have done several times in both electronic and print media; the travails of the sector particularly those of the airlines and the alarm that was raised by the NASS are not necessarily the lack of foreign exchange as the private and public operators in the sector make sufficient forex earnings to sustain their operations.

“If the NASS and the NCAA are both claiming ignorance of the problems in the sector or are insisting that the travails are only about lack of forex, then we can rightly conclude that they are equally lacking in the knowledge of their various responsible oversight functions.”

From interactions with many other stakeholders across the sector, Group Captain Ojikutu has spoken their minds even as they accused the senators of grandstanding.

Going by the wrong signal sent out not only to the travelling public and the outside world of imminent crashes, the lawmakers have indirectly indicted itself by failing to assist the sector in times of difficulties they have listed out only to come out to raise the alarm.

Question from key players include: what the lawmakers stand to gain by coming out to create tension in a sector that is struggling to remain despite the barrage of distractions coming from all quarters including the ones coming from the lawmakers.

Agreed that the sector is facing a lot of challenges, but coming out with such an alarm falls short of expectations from the lawmakers. Like Nigeria, other countries have their own challenges but their leaders will never destroy the entire system through such an unguarded statement.

If the lawmakers know that much about the problems confronting the sector, they should be more proactive in finding solutions to them rather than make remarks that will further compound issues.