November 05, (THEWILL) – Chairman of West Link Airlines, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, has commended the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, for his dedicated efforts to reshape the aviation industry.
The commendation came, following a after a recent Aviation Industry Stakeholders Meeting held in Lagos, where various leaders of aviation agencies and industry stakeholders openly discussed the hidden challenges obstructing the industry’s progress.
In a chat with aviation journalists, Capt. Mshelia lauded the minister’s sincerity in addressing the industry’s issues and his commitment to resolving them within his official authority, emphasising the need for unified support.
He expressed his satisfaction, saying, “He did a fantastic job yesterday, for the first time a minister calling stakeholders, I am so happy.”
The key issue, as explained by the Director General of Civil Aviation, Captain Musa Nuhu, is the need to empower the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), as the industry’s regulator rather than equating it with service providers, weakening its authority.
According to Capt. Mshelia, the minister’s promise to grant the NCAA genuine autonomy and the freedom to make decisions without undue political influence should be upheld.
He stressed that all service providers including airlines, handling companies, NAMA, FAAN and NCAT, should adhere to NCAA regulations, positioning it as the industry’s primary authority.
“All service providers, whether you are an airline operator, handling companies, NAMA, FAAN, NCAT etc, all of us are subject to NCAA regulations which means NCAA is ideally supposed to be the police of the industry therefore, they are the number one.”
Capt. Mshelia further urged the minister to consider the NCAA as his direct advisors, respecting their expertise and independence, emphasising the importance of accountability and listening to industry experts.
“We keep saying NCAA is autonomous, yes indeed NCAA is autonomous, how autonomous is the NCAA? Can the NCAA say anything and the government will follow hook line and sinker? No!
“The minister touched on so many critical areas and am quite impressed with him, we must give him support and we must also tell him, the right thing to do. We also expect him now to respect those of us with equal knowledge in the industry.”
He listed several areas where the minister should uphold his commitments, such as ensuring that the second Abuja airport runway is only constructed after receiving NCAA’s safety approval.
The aircraft pilot, trainer and a member of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, also encouraged the minister to involve the NCAA in decision-making processes and hold them accountable for executing their responsibilities correctly.
“NCAA must first make sure whatever design is brought means safety requirements before sending contractor to site, we must encourage him and take him to task on that one.
“He should try and listen to NCAA in everything he does, he did say, he would no longer issue contract to anyone without talking to industry experts and NCAA should be made to do the right thing.”
About the Author
Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.