Recent appointments expose aviation underbelly

The recent appointments in some key agencies of the aviation sector, to say the least, are less than satisfactory. One would have thought that due diligence was done before some people were brought to man sensitive positions in a sector that is highly life dependent.

Not a few were wondering if these changes would bring desired results and make the sector better, or one that the Ministry of Aviation is pursuing to provide jobs for the ‘boys’. Could this possibly be the best the nation can offer or assemble to drive a sensitive sector like the aviation industry?

There are many questions than answers in these appointments; one that equally exposes the underbelly of the entire system. Nigerians hardly learn from history. The same thing was done during the tenure of Stella Oduah, except that Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, apply better caution by appointing some people from the system rather than over 300 outsiders the ex-minister flooded the sector with, most of which displayed sheer ignorance of what aviation entails.

It has brought to the fore insinuations in some quarters that many people get positions that they do not merit while many qualified professionals are not considered. It is beginning to show, rather early, that most of the directors in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) are round pegs in square holes.

More pathetic is saddling people with little or no experience with positions that make them a square peg in a round hole. Many of them looked lost in the dispatch of their duties.

How else can one explain the embarrassment that two top officials in NCAA a director and a female manager in Directorate of Air Transport Regulations-made a mess of the job they do when business jet operators and other stakeholders converged last week on the Eko Hotels to brainstorm on challenges plaguing that area of the sector. The event was Nigerian Business Aviation Conference.

The director, a retired military man that got the job less than two months, simply does not understand his role and embarrassingly parried questions that left many wondering how NCAA had degenerated in just a short period of time.

It was more pathetic as the panel, which comprised former Director-General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren, the duo from NCAA and globally-respected aviation consultant, Nick Fadugba, would have been shocked with the type of quality in the agency. Demuren, however, came to the rescue as he brilliantly saved the duo from further embarrassment, with Fadugba expertly helping them to wriggle out from the difficult situation.

Do not get me wrong. Not all the recent appointments in aviation are faulty. Some of the appointees have excelled and hit the ground running, while majority of them are still lost as to what their jobs entail.

To these group of persons, they are like fish out of water in the new roles they find themselves. It is a sector that is highly technical and should not be experimented with. Not all the appointments done by Sirika are bad.

Some have proven their mettle. Sirika got it right with the appointment of Commissioner, Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Akin Olateru, NAMA MD, Capt Fola Akinkuotu and NIMET DG. Many others appear as misfit for the big positions they hold. The next few months will show whether these changes are in the best interest of the nation.

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