Scrap Ministry Of Aviation by Capt. Daniel Omale

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The whole world has discarded a ministry dedicated to aviation alone. In addition to the associated cost elements, a ministry of aviation as opposed to a ministry of transport is directly an “addictive inverse” to the functions and responsibilities of the Civil Aviation Authority of a country.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) like its counterparts in other countries of the world should be autonomous, and charged with the responsibility for air safety. There is no reason, whatsoever, to retain a dedicated ministry for aviation sector, because the natural uncoordinated interface will come to play between the minister of aviation, a politician, and the director-general or head of the NCAA, who is usually a professional aviator.

Aviation stakeholders erroneously fought for the establishment of a ministry of aviation alone, and it’s no secret today that, with the benefit of hindsight, it was a gigantic mistake because of its hindrance to aviation development.

According to the act that established the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, it is the only regulatory body for aviation in Nigeria. It became autonomous with the passing into law of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 by the National Assembly and assent by the President The Act not only empowers the Authority to regulate aviation safety without political interference, but also to carry out oversight functions of airports, airspace, meteorological services, etc as well as economic regulations of the industry. Therefore, a ministry of aviation is absolutely in dissonance with the core function and responsibility of the NCAA, a self-funding agency.

What is necessary in this country is a ministry dedicated to transportation: air, sea, railway, and highways.

On October 15, 1966, United States President Johnson, signed the Department of Transportation Act (Public Law 89-670), bringing 31 previously scattered federal elements, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), under the wing of one Cabinet-level Department. The new Department of Transportation (DOT) had responsibility to:

  • Ensure the coordinated, effective administration of the transportation programmes of the Federal Government;
  • Facilitate the development and improvement of coordinated transportation service, to be provided by private enterprise to the maximum extent feasible;
  • Encourage cooperation of federal, state, and local governments, carriers, labour, and other interested parties toward the achievement of national transportation objectives;
  • Stimulate technological advances in transportation;
  • Provide general leadership in the identification and solution of transportation problems; and • Develop and recommend to the president and the Congress national transportation policies and programmes to accomplish these objectives with full consideration of the needs of the public, users, carriers, industry, labour, and the national defence establishment.

The legislation provided for five initial major operating elements within the new department. Four of these organisations were now headed by an administrator: the Federal Aviation Administration (previously the independent Federal Aviation Agency), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. The new DOT also contained the U.S. Coast Guard, which was headed by a commandant and had previously been part of the Treasury Department.

The act also created within DOT a five-member National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). It charged NTSB with determining the clear or probable cause of transportation accidents and reporting the facts, conditions, and circumstances relating to such accidents; and reviewing on appeal the suspension, amendment, modification, revocation, or denial of any certificate or license issued by the secretary or by an administrator. In the exercise of its functions, powers, and duties, the board was independent of the secretary and the other DOT offices and officers. The new department began operations on April 1, 1967. While the president worked to consolidate management of the transportation modes, improving air traffic control and aircraft safety remained priorities for FAA.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) remains the principal federal agency responsible for providing the safest and most efficient aerospace system in the world.

Since 1958, FAA has regulated and overseen all aspects of civil aviation in the United States, proudly running the largest and safest air traffic control system in the world, and ensuring the safety of the traveling public. The FAA is laying the foundation for the aerospace system of the future. As an agency, FAA has a tremendous opportunity to make a difference for stakeholders, while addressing the challenges that the changing industry presents.

In the United Kingdom, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is a public corporation, was established by Parliament in 1972 as an independent specialist aviation regulator and provider of air traffic services (the air traffic control body NATS was separated from the CAA in the late 1990s and became a public / private partnership organisation in 2001).

The UK Government requires that the CAA’s costs are met entirely from its charges on those whom it regulates. Unlike many other countries, there is no direct Government funding of the CAA’s work.

Strategic Objectives include:

Enhancing aviation safety performance by pursuing targeted and continuous improvements in systems, culture, processes and capability.

Improving choice and value for aviation consumers now and in the future by promoting competitive markets, contributing to consumers’ ability to make informed decisions and protecting them where appropriate.

Improving environmental performance through more efficient use of airspace and make an efficient contribution to reducing the aviation industry’s environmental impacts.

Ensuring that the CAA is an efficient and effective organisation which meets Better Regulation principles

Other countries such as Australia, India, Singapore, Kenya, South Africa, just to name a few have since scrapped aviation ministry.

There is no reason for Nigeria to keep appeasing politicians by offering a ministerial appointment in aviation. We must continuously empower our civil aviation authority to maintain its autonomy through provision of air safety oversight, crew licensing, and economic regulation of the airlines. Also, the NCAA must be made the focal -point, to lead the other subservient agencies like the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

Nigeria will greatly reduce the cost of governance by scrapping the ministry of aviation.


1 Comment

  1. The incoming government of Buhari must do all to immediately reduce the cost of governance through the scrapping and merger of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

    There’s urgent need to implement the Orasanye’s report on the rationalisation of federal government parastatals to allow for operational and administrative efficiency in the way governance is run in this country.

    The Aviation ministry ought not to be in the first place but due to certain but self serving political consideration that is primarily aimed at settling ‘the Boys’, nay, political jobbers around and within the corridors and bedrooms of power, this administrative cum political aberration called Federal Ministry of Aviation, like many other of its like, was created.

    Suffice to note that the Maritime sector of the Nigerian economy is by far larger than the capacities of the aviation sector put together, yet no special ministry was dedicated to the maritime industry which is the primary economic gateway and driver of commerce in this nation.

    The Nigerian territorial waters, more than the nation’s airspace, accounts for the highest volume of goods movement (shipment) into the country – since ours is largely import driven economy. Even the crude oil that the nation heavily rely on to drive its revenue is mainly shipped through the operations of the maritime capabilities and resources. These and more are positive arguments that must be advanced in support of the maritime industry (which has no dedicated ministry) in lieu of the ministry of aviation that does not really deliver or match the activities of the marine potentials that this country has.

    Like the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA) ably supported by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council have being providing regulations for the maritime industry. The same regulatory, administrative and operational structures that exist in the maritime industry must subsist in the Aviation sector.

    For the purpose of economic arguments and for well coordinated operations of government activities, what is good for the goose (as obtains in the maritime industry) must as a matter of morality and civility be made good for the gander (in this case, the Aviation sector).

    Government needs to strengthen the Ministry of Transport (MoT) such that it remains the functional ministry that coordinates and oversees the activities of the nation’s Aviation, Maritime, Roads and Railways operations in the country.

    The fact that the President-elect has noted that he’s somewhat disposed to pruning down the numbers of serving ministers within his yet to be constituted but would be cabinet is a good step in the right direction. But suffice to note that there’s constitutional hurdles that must be crossed by the executive arm of government so as to cut down the numbers of ministers to be appointed and ultimately serve the nation.

    The situation where the law of the land provides that each state of the federation must be represented in the federal cabinet does not help matters in anyway. Today’s infrastructural needs (also factor in the ‘stomach infrastructure’) and the socioeconomic realities of the day confronting the people and governments all over the world run contrary to this provision of the law as we have it in Nigerian Constitution.

    For efficiency in governance and probity in public services, Nigeria does not need 36 ministers!!. Nigeria does not need plutorial of overlapping agencies of government to keep the nation running. In this case, the smaller the better for us, yes, for all.

    Thus, Nigeria’s governance styles and structures must be redesigned and retooled. All these ‘paddy-paddy’ arrangements and political considerations that allow for creation of near-useless and highly dysfunctional MDAs must stop forthwith in the larger interests of the nation and the overall well being of the people.

    Even the all-mighty United State of America with a land mass almost half of the continent of Africa does not have 36 ministers. Every nation that is making its mark within the global marketplace and exerting influence in governance actually keeps and maintains a small-sized cabinet.

    Down sizing must start in Aso Rock, National Assembly Complex and various States Government Houses and Offices. The fierce marketplace and the masses will not take lightly any attempt to down-size the already impoverished labour without seeing corresponding right-sizing of people in government either elected or appointed. Let government be seen to have it over bloated MDAs – which sometimes serve as conduit for draining the general resources and collective commonwealth of the people – right-sized and the people will graciously reciprocate by tightening their belts in view of the harsh economic reality that has made government to foster on all austerity measures.

    It is at this juncture that the Presidency (of Buhari) through the party he won the last general election must seek legislative buy-ins to tinker with the Constitution so as to laws that ultimate build functional and near-perfect institutions at all arms and levels of government in the Federation.

    The APC led National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) must work with and indeed help the Presidency (of Buhari) to realise the goals and objectives of having economically viable State in the interest of the nation. The judiciary is also called upon to combine synergy with the other arms of government in helping to effect a regime of law that spur fiscal responsibility and financial probity across board.

    Again and without wanting to sound like a broken record, let the Orasanye’s report be considered and implemented by the incoming government of Buhari-APC. It is a good way to start.

    God help Nigeria as Nigerians help themselves by doing the needful, the rational and the expedient.

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