Aviation Round Table (ART), which groups Nigerian aviation experts, has warned that the country risks losing its US Federal Aviation Administration-awarded Category One rating due to interference by the supervising Ministry of Aviation in aviation regulation.
Nigeria obtained the Category One rating, the highest level of civil aviation regulation rating for any country, in 2010, becoming the sixth African nation to do so after Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa.
However, the local media Friday quoted ART President Dele Ore as saying that the much-touted autonomy secured for the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in 2006 is a ruse, as officials of the supervising ministry are not giving the regulatory agency the free hand to do its job.
“I am scared, the Aviation Round Table makes bold to say that the Category One status that we are so proud of is already been threatened and if we are able to sustain it for another six months under this dispensation, we will be too lucky.
”It did not take Ghana one year before losing her category one status. We are on the verge of losing it because of these undue interference of government in safety and economic regulation. It is not done. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is against it.
”ICAO makes sure that it is a standard within which we cannot go. We cannot say that there is a Nigerian style of aviation. If we must do our own Nigerian style, we must go ahead in line with Article 38 of the Chicago convention,” he said.
Capt. Ore said under the present dispensation, safety and economy regulation are being manipulated from the Ministry of Aviation ”and that is exactly why the ECOWAS parliament said that there should be no ministry of aviation in their member states.”
Responding, the Acting Director-General, NCAA, Dr Joyce Nkemakolam, assured that the Category One rating is not by any way threatened.
She said the structures and processes that led to the attainment and sustenance of the rating for Nigeria were intact, and that the autonomy of NCAA has not been tampered with as is being alleged by the group.
PANA reports that Nigerian authorities recently removed the highly-respected Director-General of the NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren, who secured the Category One status for Nigeria.