AM EDITORIAL: Expectations From Legislators On Nigeria’s Aviation Sector
There are five basic functions of the legislature. They are legislation (law making), budgetary appropriation, representation, public hearing and legislative oversight.
Nigeria’s aviation industry expects the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation and Senate Committee on Aviation under the present administration to be jointly assertive and result oriented in the interest of the sector’s growth and development.
It is legislation that should provide the framework within which the aviation sector operates and it is incumbent upon the current set of aviation legislators to draft laws that promote growth, encourage investment, and ensure safety and security.
National Assembly’s aviation Committees are expected to ensure through legislation, that mandatory safety standards provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are incorporated in Nigeria’s national laws. This makes their legislative roles in the sector critical for the development, regulation, and growth of the aviation industry in the country.
In view of the fact that they have the authority to allocate budgets and approve funding for aviation projects, including airport construction and maintenance, procurement of equipment, and safety enhancements, they should ensure adequate funding to ensure the sector grows and develops.
National Assembly’s aviation committees should urgently through legislation, address issues such as the remittance of 40% of the annual revenues of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and some other agencies as well as the requirement that an operator seeking to be given an airport space on lease for a construction of aircraft hangar at Lagos airport should pay 7% of the company’s gross earnings. These are constraining laws to the growth of agencies and airline business.
Other pieces of legislation urgently required for Nigeria’s aviation industry to grow include airlines’ access to loans in Nigeria’s financial institutions. Hardly can any airline investor survive on loans secured at interest rate of 26%. Legislation should give single digit interest loans to airlines.
There is need for a legislation on multiple designation of routes to foreign airlines that operate into Nigeria, alongside a legislation that resists delay in release of funds remitted to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by both local and international airlines.
A legislation is equally needed to address the shameful airports infrastructure decay across the country. Experience over the years ought to have taught that it is a useless exercise, appropriating funds without eventually ensuring that the funds appropriated are utilized for their objectives. Besides, legislative oversight visits to airports and agencies should no longer be all about ‘estacodes’ and hotel pleasures for legislators; a trend that made an agency like Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to deposit payments for acquisition of expensive navigational equipment from regime to regime without taking deliveries and still expects deliveries of very obsolete equipment.
The committees should provide fruitful legislative oversight and monitor implementation of aviation policies. Facility tours should produce tangible results while players in the industry must be made to adhere strictly to aviation laws, including laws around the existence and role of Boards of agencies and personal interest driven changes in leadership of agencies without recourse to implications on career progression and the country’s image before the world.
Poor legislative oversight and lack of accountability in appropriation is responsible for runways built without runway lights. It is responsible for construction of a runway of N24billion in the last decade, at an outrageous sum of N64billion. Irresponsibility of legislators and placing personal interests above national interest are responsible for recent legislative approvals of aviation schools proliferation, while neglecting the foremost flagship aviation college in Zaria. The current set of legislators should not pander to or permit these and other shameful errors.
The National Assembly should urgently use legislation to change all entrenched bureaucratic bottlenecks that it can change to minimize impediments to the sector’s growth and development.AM