November 29, 2023

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Nigeria’s CAA, Aviation Ministry, Synergy for The Benefit of Air Transport Industry

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Capt. Musa Shuaib Nuhu, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, fielding questions during LAAC’s Gateway Forum, Webinar

The Aviation Ministry has been described as an esteemed arm of government that overtime has been found to be consistent in resolving critical air transport policy issues with enormous political will which hitherto would have impaired the regulatory oversight by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.

Captain Musa Shuaib Nuhu, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, gave the verdict at a media parley with members of the League of Aviation and Airport Correspondents, LAAC, dubbed Gateway Forum.

The Chief Regulator said the ministry is a critical arm in the entire aviation value chain in the country as the Aviation Ministry through the indefatigable Minister, Capt. Hadi Abubakar Sirika, had in most of the cases exhibited very high political will to facilitate government support for some critical policy.

Explaining further the critical role the ministry had played in making the industry more virile, the DG said, “there are some regulations that without the political support of the ministry, it will be very difficult to implement those regulations. In the past, when aircraft are grounded, big men went over above the ministry, they even went to the Villa and they have those decisions taken by NCAA reversed”

Nuhu affirmed that, “this time around, it is not so, we implement our regulations irrespective of who is involved and the support of the minister, the political support has made our life easier within our regulations. So anybody that want us to divorce completely from the ministry is not being realistic, it is ministry of aviation”, he said.

This anomaly he said the Minister had fought tooth and nail to put an end to, and the regulatory functions are currently being dispensed without fear or favour as there had not been any interference from the ministry but a synergy between regulatory authority, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and Aviation Ministry, for the well-being of the industry.

Citing few of the numerous interventions of the ministry through the Minister, he mentioned the incident of 2016/2017, in the early stage of the regime when foreign exchange was scarce and the foreign airlines were groaning for not able to repatriate about 600 million dollars in arrears, their sales proceeds, it was the intervention of the Minister that influenced Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to ensure prompt release to concerned airlines.

Another behind the scene intervention by the Aviation Minister using political clout to make business easier for various shades of investors in the industry was the very high powered consultation with the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on a special kind of production arrangement that would make aviation fuel, JET A1, in abundant for its consumers.

He said the regulatory leadership and that of the ministry had even reached the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on how loan facilities could be extended to the industry operators especially the airlines at a very low interest rate and not be an additional burden to the operators struggling to remain safely air borne.

Nuhu further revealed, “We visited the NNPC to see what kind of arrangement can be made for the production of Jet A1 and in addition, interest rate. When airlines go borrowing at a very high interest rate which we know is very high in Nigeria, If my profit margin is 5%, explain to me if l took a loan at 20%, how can I break even and pay them and make profit?”.

He cited as error committed by most domestic operators that ventured into international operations but often met with brick wall from the government of their intended destination, because they failed to involve the Ministry and the civil aviation authority.

NCAA DG described as wrong notion for an airline to go solo to negotiate with another nation’s government’s representatives on its intention to operate to such country.

Capt. Musa argued that when it is an issue of international operation, it becomes a diplomatic issue which must involve NCAA, Aviation Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

He said if any airline should assemble a team comprising experienced officials from these government agencies, it would be pretty difficult not to return with a favourable deal.

Hence he urged industry players, stakeholders and the general public to note that those government agencies are in existence to grow the industry and not to engage in supremacy duel but to synergize for the growth and development of the aviation industry and the players therein.

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