Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Nigerian Aviation Flying Coffins: Stella Oduah is Overwhelmed! Scream for Help!




Call me Unpatriotic but the last time I flew any NIGERIAN OPERATED airline internationally was probably before I was born. I do fly them locally, not that I have any other choice, I just take it that an hour of risk is 'safer' than 6 to 12 hours of risk flying what is now known in local jokes as a 'Nigerian Flying Coffin'

Nigeria Airways used to be the pride of Nigeria, it had its own problems but it ran well until it became a private taxi for public officers, they hop in and out with complimentary tickets and ran the airline aground.

Today it is better to crash knowing the airline you are flying is able to fulfill its commitment to your dependents’ and your government will see to it that the airlines are held to account for all obligations outlined in the terms and conditions of flying.


Airlines crash all over the world but it is double jeopardy knowing if you have the misfortune of being in a plane crash in Nigeria you are basically on your own.

Aviation Minister Stella Oduah appears to be out of her depth and does not seem to appreciate the monumental crisis facing that industry, she started her reign waging a price battle with British Airways and jumping on any opportunistic populist campaign that will get the fancy of an elite blinded by 'patriotism' she then opted for 'redesigning the airports' a long overdue intervention but not when it is at the expense of regulating the regulators, from NCAA to FAAN corruption was eating deep, regulators became complacent, stories of checks not being carried out but certification issues, Stella Oduah did not help matters with her reputed involvement in the sale of Aviation Fuel Jet A1 and interest in a company supplying aviation fuel to airlines, the Minister appears to be on a trial and error mission, anything to get the attention of a gullible mass will do, the aviation industry is a far cry from 2011 'neighbour to neighbour' campaign directorship, it is serious business requiring innovation and gut, well one should not blame Ms Oduah, ministers before her did not really do much to save Nigeria from what is fast becoming a National disgrace. A number of aviation ministers who attempted a revolutionary change in the industry did not last.

Successive Presidents see the aviation ministry as a place to source foreign exchange for the President and associates; appointments in the aviation sector are based more on political expediency than professionalism.

From chronic corruption in the sector from top to bottom to the use of adulterated jet A1 fuel, to regulators developing extremely cozy relationship with airline operators, and in many cases compromising safety, Nigeria is running a motor park aviation industry. 

One of the worst area is the Aviation Security Unit, underfunded, and emphases placed more on the screening area for the benefit of ICAO inspectors, with a compromised baggage screening system after check in, it is a shame that we are yet to equip our airports with secondary screening equipment’s. A lot said about the porous perimeter fencing at the Lagos International Airport.

Those who man our airports require training that meets international standards and equipment’s that would make them do the job well.

It is a fact that the industry is facing trying times globally but safety should not be compromised at the expediency of profit.
Even if it means the airlines merging to run a smaller but safe and effective fleet, something urgent must be done.

The aviation industry should not be a hobby for former public office holders, in need of a place to ‘invest’ stolen funds; it takes commitment and love for the industry and the strength of wanting to create a global brand. The Minister should check the number of licence issued to private operators and the ALL COMERS policy of any money bag establishing a airline at the slightest opportunity.

NO Nigerian airline can pass the SAFETY test as we are today, from Arik to Dana and others it’s been a game of survival of the smartest.

Aviation experts must come to the aid of the Nigerian government even if it means declaring a state of emergency. In our country the roads are DEATH TRAPS and the sky is now almost a sure route to depart the world. Every landing should no longer be a MIRACLE it should be assured that you will reach your destination and if you don’t, investigations would be carried out, and our country would learn from every mistake made.

It is never too late for Ms Oduah to provide leadership, seriously call stake holders and save Nigerian aviation industry from imminent collapse. She is sure going to get the backing of Nigerians. Right now Ms Oduah is acting more like a chief mourner, waiting for the next plane crash.

Kayode Ogundamisi