AS complicating as the country’s aviation sector may look, thanks to the myriad of challenges bedeviling it, there are still some good things coming out of it which also deserve worthy of mention.
One of these positive feats is the ongoing efforts being made by the Federal Government to upgrade the country’s Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to a multi-modal accident investigating agency.
Prior to now, AIB had been responsible for investigating air accidents and incidents in the country for the purpose of finding out their remote causes, make recommendations to prevent a recurrence of such accidents or incidents.
Looking at the Bureau some years back and where it is now, there is no doubt that it has experienced serious transformation in the areas of accident investigation with the promptness to release the final reports of such crashes.
Making these possible is the present leadership at the Bureau, led by Engineer Akin Olateru and his team of inspectors.
Before the coming of Olateru, key players in the sector had faulted the lackadaisical attitude of the bureau towards accident/incident investigations as evidenced in the failure of previous managements to release the reports of crashes that happened many years ago.
However, with the coming of Olateru, the sad story has changed as witnessed in the number of final reports of crashes that occurred before his coming and the few ones that took place since he took over the leadership of the Bureau in 2017.
Under Olateru, the AIB has released over 147 safety recommendations in addition to 35 final reports of air crashes and incidents recorded within the Nigerian airspace since the inception of the agency.
The pro activeness of the AIB leadership has continued to gain the attractions of foreign countries with some of them engaging the expertise of the Bureau to carry out investigations in crashes that occurred in their countries.
Presently, while there are ongoing partnership talks between the Bureau and countries like South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Gabon, the AIB has signed Memorandum of Undertakings (MoUs) with France, Republic of Benin, São Tomé and Principe, just as the MoU with Saudi Arabia will be finalized in three months’ time.
All these have only gone to show that Nigeria’s AIB is representing the country well in accidents/incidents investigations.
It is therefore cheering to learn of the ongoing move by the Bureau to become a multi-modal agency which will now allow it to expand its horizon beyond air crashes but also delve into rail, marine and road.
While the bill is before the National Assembly for passage, having got approval from the Federal Executive Council (FEC), inspectors are already undergoing training outside the countries on how to comfortably fit into the new status.
It is hoped that the National Assembly will hasten the passage of the bill as this will not only shore up the image of the country’s aviation sector but will also mean more money into the coffers of Nigeria through the services the Bureau will be rendering to other countries. Better days are surely ahead and it is hoped that other aviation agencies will make themselves relevant in the wind of change blowing.