I am not a member of any cabal in aviation that wishes to milk funds from the system through any minister, therefore my stand is simple: scrap the ministry of aviation.
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” or a direct opposition 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, in hindsight, it was a gigantic mistake because of its hindrance to aviation development. Aviation ministry, as the former minister, Stella Oduah, clearly displayed, became a channel for draining public funds. All the agencies under the ministry became instant tax payers to the minister, who in the name of creating aviation roadmap with airport “remodelling” as the theme, looted the treasury for her future political ambition.
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 of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 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 programs 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 towards 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 programs to accomplish these objectives with full consideration of the needs of the public, users, carriers, industry, labour, and the national defense 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.