Abuja — Disturbed by the recent air mishaps involving Dana Airlines, the federal government rose from a seven-hour Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House, Abuja wednesday, with a resolution ordering a complete audit of the airline.
The airline was within two weeks involved in two near-fatal air incidents.
The first was when the door of one of its aircraft fell off after landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on February 8.
Then on February 21, another aircraft belonging to the airline overshot the runway and ran into the bush at the Port Harcourt airport.
Obviously concerned that the trend was an ominous sign of a looming disaster, FEC resolved that a total audit of the airline, whose aircraft crashed in Lagos on June 3, 2012, killing all 153 passengers and crew onboard, should be carried out with a view to ascertaining the true state of the airline, including its capacity to remain in operation.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the council spent quality time to discuss the matter because it considered it to be of great concern.
According to Shehu, though the council noted the suspension of the pilot and engineer of the aircraft involved in the Port Harcourt incident, it ordered the audit of the airline in the areas of manpower, and operational and technical capacity.
The outcome of the audit will determine the fate of the airline owned by Indian-owned Dana Group. The group has operated in Nigeria since the 80s with expansive interests in aviation, the automobile sector, pharmaceuticals, shipping and steel.
"A lot of quality time was spent discussing air safety. The government of Nigeria is very much concerned about safety and the life of Nigerians. This is following the recent air incidents.
"Minor as they were because they were no fatalities, the government did feel concerned and the minister presented the report to the council on steps that were taken following the last incident in Port Harcourt when the Dana aircraft overshot the runaway.
"As soon as that happened, within a few seconds, a rescue team was there on the ground and a few moments thereafter, every passenger on board was evacuated.
"There was no harm to persons and this is something that should be celebrated.
"Within 24 hours, an official investigation had commenced because investigators arrived in Port Harcourt and began work. One week after that, a preliminary report was prepared and it was about this that the council was briefed.
"Consequently, as announced by the aviation authorities, the engineer and pilot of that particular aircraft got their licences suspended and beyond that, the government has ordered a complete audit of Dana Airlines in terms of personel, operational and technical capacity," Shehu explained.
In his briefing, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said he presented a memo to the council on the report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth figures for the fourth quarter of 2017 and for the full year 2017, which he said had shown that the economy grew by 1.92 per cent in Q4 2017 and by 0.82 per cent annually last year.
According to him, Q4 2017 GDP growth was higher than that of the previous quarter, when the economy grew by 1.40 per cent and by 0.72 per cent in the second quarter 2017, which was indicative that Nigeria had fully exited the recession.
"I presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council today on the most recent GDP figures and other related economic performance numbers as released last week by the National Bureau of Statistics.
"You will recall that the NBS had indicated that in the last quarter of 2017 the economy had continued its positive growth trajectory growing by 1.92 per cent. This was higher than the previous quarter when it grew by 1.40 per cent and higher still than the second quarter of 2017, when it grew by 0.72 per cent.
"The numbers clearly show that the economy has fully exited recession," he added.
Also briefing, the Minister of Niger Delta, Pastor Usani Uguru, said the council approved the design of section five of the East-West Road meant to link Oron in Akwa Ibom with Calabar in Cross River State.