Proliferation of state airports a burden on us —DG NCAA

Captain Musa Nuhu is the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). In this interview with SHOLA ADEKOLA, he speaks on trending issues affecting aviation safety, the recent safety audit conducted on the sector by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) team, and other issues:

Nigeria’s hosting of the 7th Aviation Summit in Abuja and its benefits

The whole purpose of this was to bring the international aviation community to Nigeria and see what the country is all about; the opportunities in Nigeria and to clear the wrong perception of Nigeria being a bad and dangerous place. And specifically for the aviation industry to come and see the opportunities in the sector in the country.

What’s your take on the report that Abuja and Lagos are the most expensive airports in the world with about 27 revenue charges imposed on airlines?

I think the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development established a committee to look at these multitudes of revenues to see how they can be streamlined. But what we need to understand is that a lot of these charges are not from the aviation agencies, but are more in the cargo area. All sorts of people are illegally making these charges. So, aviation will start, at least we will consolidate and see where we can streamline and merge those charges and see what can be done. But there are a lot of people and lots of charges that have nothing to do with aviation aeronautical charges. It is other organizations that are in the airport that put up these charges. But, sometimes as Nigerians, we need to all sit down as a team and see the damage we are doing to our country.

Like in Lagos, there are so many charges, you want to export your cargo, there are so many charges. By the time you pay those charges, your products are not even competitive anymore. That is why you see a lot of planes bringing in cargo, and they leave empty out of Nigeria because exports are not viable and lots of these are charged by a plethora of these agencies. It is really hurting us.

How do you intend to change the notion that NCAA autonomy is being eroded by the Ministry of Aviation?

That is not my experience as the DG of the NCAA. I cannot speak on what happened before me and we have to determine and understand the autonomy of the NCAA. The NCAA is a government organization; the NCAA cannot exist in the absence of government. The autonomy of the NCAA is on its regulatory functions, our safety regulatory function, that is where we have our autonomy. But there are other government regulations, financial regulations, and all that the NCAA must comply with. The NCAA cannot exist on its own. There is no civil aviation authority like that anywhere in the world.

But, when we make safety decisions, like the grounding of an airline X, then there is intervention that we should reverse that action, then that is interference with the regulatory function. Since I became the DG, I have not experienced that even once. And as the new minister has said, he will respect that. And the first meeting I had with him, he said ‘I am a lawyer, I have gone through the Civil Aviation Act, NCAA is a very powerful organization and has a very powerful DG.’ But, if you don’t use your power properly, you will do more damage than fixing things. So, you have to be very careful that you don’t get carried away. And what is the purpose of the NCAA? To promote the aviation industry, basically, that is what it is. So, we work with all stakeholders. We have grounded a few airlines when we believed that safety was going to be compromised, we just have to take action.


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