Festus Keyamo’s Unrelenting Blunders

 

The minister of aviation, Festus Keyamo, remains grounded in interfering and over ruling the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA ) regulatory oversight. This is not just a huge mistake , it will surely affect the operational standards of the aviation industry in Nigeria .

On April 23, 2024, Dana Air’s aircraft skidded off the domestic runway in Lagos ( runway 19L). Without any investigation as to the cause of the minor incident, the minister suspended the entire flight operations of the airline. This single action underscores his ignorance of the industry he leads.

Hydroplaning or aquaplaning by the tyes of vehicle, aircraft, or other other wheeled machines occurs when a layer of water builds between the wheels of the airplane and the runway surface, leading to a loss of traction that prevents the aircraft from responding to control inputs. Aircraft and even cars are designed with antiskid mechanisms to minimize the occurrence of hydroplaning. But in a severe slush or standing water on the runway, skidding off the landing strip can easily occur. The domestic runway in Lagos, with its undulating surface, is a prelude to this type of incident.

No one died during Dana Air’s mishap, and prior to investigation by the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau ( NSIB) , the minister hurriedly grounded the whole airline. This is a clear indication that Festus Keyamo either lacks the basic knowledge of the costs of running a commercial airline or, with sheer hubris, undermined the NCAA.

Just two days ago, Keyamo constituted a Ministerial Task Force Committee to checkmate illegal aircraft charter operations in the country. The minister, on Thursday this week, alleged that some private airplanes operating in Nigeria are being used for money laundering, drug trafficking, and other illegal activities. Here, again, the Festus Keyamo has exceeded his boundaries. If he is certain that these aircraft are used for illegal operations, why hasn’t the Ministry of Aviation contacted the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA, the Customs, the DSS, and even the airport police?

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The NCAA, an autonomous agency under the Ministry of Aviation, is charged with the economic and safety regulations of all aircraft operating in Nigeria. It is within its regulatory purview to sanction any violation of illicit activities, not the minister.

If the Permit for Non- Commercial Flight ( PNCF), which is issued to private aircraft owners, has become too controversial to regulate, which is a worldwide menace, then the NCAA must come up with the most appropriate license for purely private aircraft owner and their machines.

Discouraging investors in the industry with such predatory utterances will further create the high unemployment in the aviation industry and stigmatizes Nigerian registered airplanes.

While for political expediency, the minister would say anything for ingratiation towards President Tinubu’s rating of Keyamo’s performance, the repercussions for such egregious utterances are huge, and would diffuse beyond the shores of Nigeria. Nigerian registered aircraft will definitely be subjected to extra scrutiny if they fly into other countries since the minister has proliferated these allegations.

Festus Keyamo may be proficient in law, but he is definitely not knowledgeable in the aviation sector and the sensitive regulatory guidlines associated with the rules of air transportation in the world. This country will forever remain retrogressive if square pegs are thrown into round holes.

Daniel Omale

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