8 October 2013

Nigeria: Accidents Are Inevitable - Aviation Minister

Minister of Aviation Princess Stella Oduah, yesterday brushed aside government criticism over Thursday's air crash in Lagos saying accidents are inevitable.

She was reacting to comments that the recent crash involving the Associated Airlines has cast doubts on government's efforts towards making the nation's airspace safe.

Speaking to State House correspondents in Abuja yesterday, the minister said the "accident is an act of God" noting that her ministry only tries its best to prevent it.

According to her, all stakeholders in the aviation sector have shared responsibilities and must work in tandem to ensure a secure and safe sector.

She said: "We do not pray for accident, but it is inevitable. All we do is to do everything to ensure that we do not have accidents. But it is an act of God.

"Again, we do not speculate on the cause of accidents. Until that happens, you can't say this is the cause or that is not the cause. But what is obvious and is the truth is that, in aviation, there are shared responsibilities starting from the man that carries your luggage to the man that makes sure your boarding pass is issued to you.

"And so the regulatory agency, the operators and the management, everybody has their responsibility and all must work in tandem for there to be an optimal, secure and safe aviation sector.

"There is no seminar or conference where Nigeria hasn't given what you call an exemplary role. Every nation wants to emulate what we've done within such a short time to be able to have a safe airspace.

"What saddens me really is that the ICAO says just last week that Nigeria is well above the global average. We actually scored 65 percent. Secondly, the ICAO says Nigeria is the 12th safest aviation globally. And then, when you hear bad comments, drunk and addicts making comments that have zero bearing on reality, it's very annoying. What I'll advise the public really is to recognise the fact that aviation is a very professional area; you cannot listen to bad comments because they're just unrealistic and totally untrue."

On why Dana Airlines operations were again suspended, Oduah said, "In aviation, security and safety measures are work in progress, you don't stop. You don't say that I've attained this and so we stop, it never stops. You continuously and constantly assess operators to make sure they're in compliance. And their (Dana Airlines') license was not stopped, what was stopped is their operations, and it was stopped because the law says that, if there is anything noticed not in tandem with the policy, the regulation must stop and re-certify and make sure that there is compliance...That is why their operations were suspended. We can't joke with safety and security, it's not even optional. It's the way things are done, it's part of the policy."

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