At last, the preliminary investigation into the crash of Dana Air flight 0992 has been released. However, this has not brought to an end the investigations into the cause of the accident by the panel set up by the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah to further investigate some aspects of the accident which claimed the lives of over 160 persons at the Iju Ishaga Area of Lagos on June 3.
While aviation analysts are not against the setting up of administrative panels to come up with recommendations that would move the industry forward, some of them have criticised the setting up of such panels without implementing their recommendations. It is based on this and some other reasons that they have criticised the establishment of the Administrative Panel headed by Group Captain John Obakpolar (Rtd) to investigate some aspects of the Dana Air crash. Analysts also faulted this panel based on the fact that the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has the sole mandate to actually investigate aircraft accidents and come up with recommendations. This mandate is in line with the tenets of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the world body charged with regulating and setting standards for civil aviation globally.
The Nigerian Society of Engineers Chairman (Aeronautical Division), Mr. Y.S.O. Abdul, in a position paper entitled, 'Accident Investigations: Beyond Sentiments and Rash Decisions,' said, "It is important to emphasise that we should learn to be patient to allow government agencies which are established by Act of Parliament and are saddled with the responsibilities of emergency management and accident investigation to perform their duties rather than the ad-hoc committees hastily constituted and whose functions are more or less a duplication of the existing agencies."
Also, the Aviation Round Table (ART), at a press event in Lagos recently, criticised the probe of the Dana Air accident by both Houses of National Assembly as well as the setting up of the ministerial panel to investigate some aspects of the accident.
ART President, Captain Dele Ore and his scribe, Mr. Owolabi Akerele, described the action by the aviation minister as an aberration and illegality. The body said that the responsibility to investigate aircraft accident did not rest with the Ministerial panel or the National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation but the statutorily empowered Nigeria's AIB.
Ore insisted that the power conferred on the National Assembly under the constitution were exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to make laws with respect to any matter within its competence and correct defects in existing laws. These include initiating amendment to the Civil Aviation Act of 2006, and the probe on the disbursement and use of the aviation intervention fund among others.
Ore stressed, "The setting up of another administrative panel to probe another aspect of the Dana aircraft accident is an aberration and illegality. The sum total of all this is that Nigeria has fallen short of the minimum International Standard and hence under article 38 of the Chicago Convention, Nigeria is obliged to file a difference."
Ore further stressed that the country has become adept at setting up probe panels which recommendations do not see the light of the day. He specifically mentioned some probe panels, including the Paul Dike probe panel, which up until today is yet to be implemented by the aviation authorities.
He thus opined the need for the government to revisit the recommendations of the several probe panels it instituted in the past as well as implement their recommendations in order to move the industry forward.