Swing low: FG to beam its searchlight on private jet owners
by Isi Esene
The recent helicopter crash which happened in Nembe, Bayelsa State, killing six people including the governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa and former National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi, has again brought the issue of aviation safety to the front burner.
There are indications that the aviation ministry is planning on imposing stringent measures on the operation of private airlines in the country.
Sources say the aviation minister, Stella Oduah met on Wednesday with heads of aviation agencies and relevant stakeholders in the airline sector to deliberate on how to achieve better safety procedure in the industry.
Part of the measures being strongly considered is to impose heavy sanctions on any non-compliance with standard safety procedure.
Consequently, it was learnt that government had decided that the ministry and the NCAA would henceforth pay more attention to the activities of airstrips, heliports, helipads, airports, private jets and chartered aircraft.
The ministry oversees airstrips while the NCAA oversees aircraft.
A source in the aviation industry said, “Most of the people that own private jets in Nigeria are big people who ordinarily may not want to obey rules at times. But the minister said that the recent happening in the military circle was also a wake-up call for the civil aviation as well.
“It now means that the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority will be paying more attention to the operators of private and chartered jets/ helicopters in the country.”
The source added that the development could lead to a situation where some aviation facilities would be re-examined or audited.
With the spate of air crashes like the one involving the Taraba State governor, Danbaba Suntai, the government is signalling a determination to look into the operations and activities of lighter aircrafts in order to forestall a repeat occurrence.
But an aviation industry analyst, Olumide Ohunayo, reportedly said the latest development was not expected to retard the recent growth of the aviation sector in the country, rather it would serve to strengthen it.