11 August 2014

Nigeria: Govt Insists On Merging Aviation Agencies

Despite the disquiet that followed the proposal to merge the aviation agencies, there are indications that the federal government remains on track to consolidate the operations of some aviation agencies in order to streamline their activities as recommended by the Steve Oronsaye report.

The decision to go ahead with the merger is coming against the backdrop of the opposition by stakeholders in the industry.

In May this year, government issued a notice that it would merge the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to become the Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA), so as to reduce the high cost of managing the agencies.

But in reaction to this plan, industry stakeholders, including workers' unions, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) and other professionals in the industry criticised the move, saying it would lead to conflicts when the regulatory body, NCAA, is merged with service providers, NAMA and NIMET, which it is supposed to regulate. THISDAY also learnt that the President of Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr. Bernard Aliu, who is a Nigerian, had reached out to government on this, advising otherwise.

But a letter from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), with reference number: SGF/12/S.II/C.9/42, dated July 14, 2014 to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Aviation and made available to the media, the SGF's office ordered the affected agencies to send a progress report on the proposed merger to the government on or before Monday, July 21, 2014.

The letter, which was signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mohammed Abubakar for the SGF, said the submission of the report was necessary so as to pave the way for the government to eventually go ahead with the planned merger of the agencies.

The letter emphasised that upon the receipt of the committee's report, the government had directed each ministry to set up Ministerial Technical Committees (MTCs) for the implementation of the decisions of the White Paper on the restructuring and rationalisation of federal government agencies, parastatals and commissions, and ordered them to forward to the government the day-to-day report of the committees.

The letter added: "As specified in the circular, each technical committee is to undertake the detailed day-to-day implementation of the decisions in the white paper, as may be applicable to the agencies being supervised by your ministry/office.

"It is therefore expected that your technical committee has proceeded with the implementation of the decisions of the white paper as they affect the agencies under your ministry.

"Accordingly, I am to inform you that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman of the implementation committee of the white paper on restructuring and rationalisation of federal government agencies, parastatals and commissions has directed that each ministerial technical committee should submit a progress report on its assignment to the undersigned on or before Monday, July 21, 2014.

"I am further explaining that the report should provide explicit proposals on how the merger or restructuring of the affected agencies could be effected, including the proposed organisational structure and the required manning levels for each of the merged or restructured agency."

This letter was preceded by another letter from the Ministry of Aviation, dated July 17, 2014 on the same matter and signed by the Director, Human Resource Management, A.A. Tsafe for the Minister of Aviation. The said letter also ordered the affected agencies' CEOs to send their progress report through e-mail to abubakr289@yahoo.com before the close of day on Friday, July 18, 2014.

The letter said this was necessary to enable it collate and send same to the office of the SGF on or before July 21, 2014 as directed.

However, at the time of filing this report, it was not clear if the heads of the affected agencies had responded to the letters, but there seemed to be uneasy calm in the parastatals which have been resistant to change.

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