A crisis seems to be brewing in the aviation industry following the sending of some aviation chiefs on compulsory annual leave.
The letter asking them to proceed on leave, industry sources said, emanated from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Though there has been no official confirmation, sources said the two aviation parastatals whose heads were informed via a circular are the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, and the director-general of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr Nnamdi Udoh.
The chief executive officers of the agencies were asked to choose when to proceed on their annual leave and still be able to travel for official duty at the same time, sources said.
It was alleged, however, that the directive for them to go on leave was a ploy by the ministry to get the officers out of the way while efforts are on to dilute the measure of autonomy granted the agencies via the 2006 Civil Aviation Act.
Already, a committee set up by the aviation minister, Princess Stella Oduah, is reviewing the Aviation Act and there are allegations that the intention was to specifically remove the autonomy given to the NCAA by the Act. The ministry had denied the allegation, stating that NCAA's autonomy is crucial to the safety of the industry.
Mr. Joe Obi, special assistant to the aviation minister, when contacted to comment on the recent development in the industry, said he was not aware that any letter was written to the aviation chiefs to proceed on leave.
"I am not aware of such a letter. And if there were, such letters would be directed to the individuals involved and they would not be passed through my office," he told our correspondent on telephone.
There a fears within the industry to the effect that the latest development might result in the eventual sack of the chief executives, especially the DG of NCAA, Dr Demuren.
Demuren has been under pressure to resign from the position since after the Dana Air crash of June 3, 2012, in Iju Ishaga area of Lagos State.
The National Assembly had urged the federal government to sack the embattled DG following investigations into the crash.
We were not consulted - Reps
But the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, which oversights the ministry's activities, said that it was not consulted before the directive was issued.
In a phone chat with LEADERSHIP yesterday, the chairman of the Committee on Aviation, Hon Nkiruka Onyejiocha, said she was not contacted by anyone on the matter and so was not in a position to know what transpired.
"I am not aware of the development and so it is very difficult for me to comment on that which I am not abreast of," she said.