President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to enhance the nation’s aviation safety and security through the provision of navigational facilities and other necessary infrastructure in the sector. The President made the pledge when he hosted the Secretary General of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar, in Abuja. The Nigerian leader also promised to work with other member states to support the vision of ICAO in achieving its strategic objectives.
Since 1962 when Nigeria became a member of ICAO, it had contributed immensely to the Council’s work and activities. Nigeria had also been a strategic partner in supporting the implementation of the organisation’s policies and programmes internationally and in Africa. Considering the importance of the aviation sector to the nation’s economy, no stone should be left unturned in ensuring that the sector plays in the West African sub-region and Africa successfully. The Federal Government needs no reminding that under ICAO’s initiative of “No Country Left Behind,” enhancing air safety and security should be of primary concern. In this regard, we urge the government to be fully committed to making the nation’s aviation sector safe and secure. The President’s promise to do that must be kept.
Despite witnessing some air mishaps in recent times, the nation’s aviation sector can be said to be relatively safe. That is why the government and other stakeholders in the sector must show willingness to continue to make the sector safe and secure. The recent security breach at the Kaduna Airport, where bandits aborted the takeoff of some aircraft and damaged some vital aviation equipment, underscored the need for improved security in the nation’s airports in line with global standards. Having perimeter fence in all our airports will go a long way in enhancing aviation security and safety.
While the President acknowledged that Nigeria’s financial contributions to global aviation safety is significant, we urge him to prioritise improving the nation’s airports to meet international standards. It is sad that many of our airports are in decrepit state, and some do not have facilities for night operations. This is why the aviation operators should heed the recent warning by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to pilots, and airlines to be careful about hazardous weather across the country. The advice, which was contained in a circular signed by the Director-General, NAAC, Capt. Musa Nuhu, is timely and we enjoin flight crew/operators and ATCs to ensure its strict adherence. Let pilots, exercise maximum restraint whenever adverse weather forecast is made by the meteorological agency. We say this because it is always better to err on the side of caution. Complying with this advisory is essential for the air safety.
In a related development, it is heartwarming that the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) has planned to deploy aeronautical and visual flight maps for pilots and aircraft. The arrangement, according to the agency’s Acting Managing Director, Matthew Pwajok, is in collaboration with the Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation.
This is a good idea, because aeronautical chart is of great assistance to the navigation of aircraft. According to Pwajok, using these charts and other tools will enable pilots to determine their position, safe altitude, the best route to a destination, navigation aids along the way as well as alternative routes in case of an in-flight emergency, among others. It is also commendable that NAMA has concluded plans to send abroad, a team of experts such as airspace planners and cartographers for this purpose. Without doubt, these measures will strengthen the technical capacity of the aviation sector.
However, we believe that training and retraining of key staff in the aviation industry is vital to air safety. The agency should also speed up the completion AIS Automation Project in selected airports in the country. More attention should be given to some airports that are yet to attain the expected standard. They need to be upgraded with the necessary aviation safety equipment. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure safety in the aviation sector in line with global best practices.