Daily Trust (Abuja)

4 January 2013

Nigeria: Dana - FG, N/Assembly On Collision Course

Kaduna — Senators and members of the House of Representatives yesterday warned that the federal government is toying with lives of Nigerians by allowing Dana Air to resume operation even when investigations into the crash of its plane was ongoing.

Dana Air's McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft flying from Abuja crashed few minutes to Lagos killing all 153 passengers and crew as well as six other people on ground on June 3, last year.

The airline resumes operations today having completed a re-certification process. It will fly from the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos 2 to the local wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Reacting to the situation yesterday, a member of the Senate committee on Aviation, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (PDP, Borno south) said it is absurd for the airline to resume operations while reports of investigations into the crash were yet to be made known to Nigerians.

"As of now, Nigerians are yet to know what happened to the Dana aircraft that crashed and killed our people. We know what is happening. We have the responsibility of advising Nigerians not to patronise Dana airlines yet.

"As a committee of the Senate, we have laid the report of our investigations, but the Senate as a whole has neither debated the report nor passed any resolution on the matter. Even the Accident Investigation Bureau under the Federal Ministry of Aviation has not produced the report of its own investigation into the crash. So, on what basis is Dana resuming operations? Ndume asked.

Also, some members of the House of Representatives in telephone interviews with Daily Trust yesterday condemned the lifting of ban on flight operations of Dana Airline.

Chairman House committee on Aviation Rep Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (PDP, Abia) said: "I know that the president will not be insensitive to the lives of Nigerians and he is committed to making sure that everybody will leave up to their bidding. We Know they are not going to implement the report, but I am satisfied that we did our job and nobody caged us to do what is not right and Nigerians will bear us witness."

Chairman House Committee on Information and National Orientation Rep Buba Jubril (CPC, Kogi) said the action is not fair to Nigerians and that it creates the impression that the executive and the legislature are working at cross roads.

"It is not fair on Nigerians and the House of Representatives that the ban on Dana Airline operations has been lifted when there are pending issues to be addressed. It is not proper to take that kind of action at this point in time. We took our action based on the findings of our committee that investigated the Dana crash. The executive should not create the impression that we are working at cross roads when we are supposed to be working together for the well being of Nigerians," Jubril said.

Two other lawmakers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the action of the executive is 'irresponsible and dictatorial' despite the loss of lives and the recent helicopter crash in Bayelsa that claimed the lives of former Kaduna state governor, Patrick Yakowa and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Azazi and four others.

"This shows that the executive want us to start 2013 on a conflict note or how do we explain the airline operation despite the crisis and controversies, it is now back to business. We will definitely look into this when we resume next week," one of the reps said.

But Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria, Captain Mohammed Joji has described the lifting of ban on the Dana Airline as a welcome development.

"It is very good decision because if airline companies are grounded because of accident there will not be airline operator at all. Every major airline had cases of air crashes. So it was wrong in the first place to ground the airline," he said.

Reacting to the return of Dana airline yesterday, Captain Joji who is the Chief Executive Officer of skypower airline faulted the report of the Senate committee on the aviation sector.

He described the report of the Senate committee on aviation on the Nigerian Aviation sector as incorrect and misleading saying.

Following the Lagos Dana plane crash, the Senate on June 5, 2012 mandated its committee on aviation to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the incident. The Senate also urged the federal government to ground all Dana aircrafts pending the outcome of the investigation into the crash.

With the resumption of flight operation today, the airline will certainly struggle to survive in business and faces the herculean task of building public confidence to bring back credibility to it services. NCAA spokesperson Sam Adurogboye when contacted on the matter said the airline went through five stages of rigorous recertification process before they had their license restored.

Scores of air passengers who spoke to Daily Trust said they will still fly Dana in as much as the NCAA has assured of airworthiness of the company's aircrafts while some travellers are still sceptical about the airline's credibility to fly.

One Mr. Badejo Adejumo (not real name) said he is still going to fly major airline operators in the developed countries do record accidents and still fly safely after such incidents.

Another passenger, Mrs Sarat Okikiolu said she would never fly any airline that recorded such huge loss of lives. The airline license was restored in September last year, Dana is set to make its initial flight today from Lagos Murtalan MUhammed Airport Two to the local wing of Abuja airport.

The NCAA's spokesperson, Sam Adurogboye when contacted in a telephone conversation said the airline went through five stages of rigorous re-certification process before they had their license restored.

He said Dana also did the required 50hours of flight test with NCAA's flight inspectors on-board saying "I can assure you that Dana is safe to fly."

According to him, the airline has done everything humanly possible to ensure safe operations which NCAA as regulator is aware of. Adurogboye said, "So, I am assuring passengers that as Dana is back to fly, they should rest their mind on seamless services."

Scores of air passengers who spoke to Daily Trust said they will still fly Dana in as much the NCAA has assured of their airworthiness while some travellers are still sceptical about the airline's credibility to fly. One Mr. Badejo Adejumo (not real name) said he is still going to fly with the airline because giants airlines operators in the develop countries do record accidents and iccidents and they still fly safely.

Another passenger, Mrs. Sarat Okikiolu said no that she would never fly with any airline that recorded such huge lost of lives.

Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria, Captain Mohammed Joji, has described the lifting of ban on the DANA airline as a welcome development.

"It is very good decision because if airline companies are grounded because of accident there will not be airline operator at all. Every major airline had cases of air crashes. So it was wrong in the first place to ground the airline," he said.

Reacting to the lifting of DANA airline license to fly in a telephone interview, Captain Joji who is the Chief Executive Officer of skypower airline, faulted the report of the senate committee on the aviation sector.

He described the report of the Senate committee on aviation on the Nigerian Aviation sector as incorrect and misleading.

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