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Despite the criticisms which trailed the recommendation of the Stephen Oronsaye Presidential Committee on the rationalisation of federal ministries, departments and agencies, the federal government appears set to merge key agencies in the aviation sector
The Federal Government is set to merge two key aviation agencies despite the criticisms that trailed the Stephen Oronsanye-led presidential committee on restructuring and rationalisation of federal government parastatals, commissions and agencies. The agencies are the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET). The Oronsanye committee had, in April this year, recommended a merger of the critical aviation agencies. The recommendation was later accepted by the Federal Government through its White Paper on the report.
The committee had proposed that the NAMA, NIMET and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Agency (NCAA) be merged to form a new agency to be known as the Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA) while their respective enabling laws are to be amended accordingly to reflect the merger. However, there are indications that NCAA may be left out of the proposed merger of aviation agencies. Osita Chidoka, Minister of Aviation who met with industry operators recently insisted that the merger plan would still take place without including the NCAA. It was learnt that the government decided to allow the NCAA to operate as it is presently and also strengthen its autonomy so as to enable it carry out its responsibilities of ensuring safety of flight operations in Nigeria.
In preparation for the implementation of the recommendations of Oronsaye Committee, a letter from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) dated July 14 ordered the agencies involved to send a progress report on the proposed merger to the government on or before Monday, July 21.
The letter, addressed to the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Aviation, was signed by Mohammed Abubakar, permanent secretary, SGF Office, on behalf of the SGF, Pius Anyim. According to the letter, the submission of the report became necessary in order for the government to kick-start the planned merger of the agencies.
It emphasised that upon the receipt of the committee’s report; the government had directed each ministry to set up ministerial technical committees for the implementation of the restructuring and rationalisation of federal government agencies, parastatals and commissions and ordered each ministry should forward to the government the day-to-day report of the committees.
The letter read in part, “As specified in the circular, each technical committee is to undertake the detailed day-to-day implementation of the decisions in the White Paper, as may be applicable to the agencies being supervised by your ministry/office. It is, therefore, expected that your technical committee has proceeded with the implementation of the decisions of the White Paper as they affect the agencies under your ministry.
“Accordingly, I am to inform you that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/chairman of the implementation committee of the White Paper on restructuring and rationalisation of Federal Government agencies, parastatals and commissions, has directed that each ministerial technical committee should submit a progress report on its assignment to the undersigned on or before Monday, July 21, 2014.
“The report should provide explicit proposals on how the merger or restructuring of the affected agencies could be effected, including the proposed organisational structure and the required manning levels for each of the merged or restructured agency.”
Another letter from the Federal Ministry of Aviation, dated July 17, 2014 on the subject matter and signed by A. A. Tsafe, director, human resource management, for the minister of aviation, also ordered the affected agencies’ chief executive officers to send their progress report through e-mail before the close of work on July 18, 2014.
The letter said this was necessary to enable the ministry to collate and send same to the office of the secretary to the government of the federation on or before July 21. It was not clear if the chief executive officers of the affected agencies had responded to the letter, but there seems to be uneasy calm in the parastatals.
Before Mr Chidoka gave indication that NCAA will no longer be part of the merger, many stakeholders had faulted the proposed merger. Capt. Dele Ore, president, Aviation Round Table (ART) faulted government’s plan, saying it is wrong. He said the implementation of the recommendation would further take back the industry to the 1995 era, stressing that the agencies would be demerged within the next two years. Ore insisted that there was nowhere in the world where a regulatory body was merged with service providers like NAMA and NIMET.
He said that the move was at variance with the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and other relevant international bodies around the world. Ore queried the expertise of the committee members in the global aviation practices, maintaining that the implementation of the report by the government would be a disgrace to the nation.
“What the government is planning to do is wrong. It will take us back to the 1995 era and whether we like it or not, I give them two years, they will return. You don’t merge a regulatory body with a service provider; NAMA and NIMET are service providers; you cannot merge them with NCAA, which is a regulatory body. This is at variance with international laws laid down by the ICAO and other relevant international bodies. Who are the experts that did the report? Did they even give consideration to international convention and international best practices? Those are the questions one would love to ask and whatever they do may be a big slap on our face,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of BeluJane Konsult, Chris Aligbe, said the planned merger of aviation agencies would drag back the industry and dismantle the lofty achievements recorded in the past few years. “As far as I am concerned, the merger should not be allowed. It should not be carried out. It is a retrogressive step,” he said.