by Tolu Orekoya
The nine-member probe panel set up by the president, Goodluck Jonathan and the aviation minister, Stella Oduah does not inspire confidence in civil society groups. Their duty to “perform a comprehensive assessment of all domestic airlines … make bold recommendations on actions to be taken to improve the overall safety net of aviation sector” may be hampered by some panel members’ less than stellar aviation industry past.
The panel, set up to audit the aviation industry has within its ranks industry insiders around during some of the worst airline crashes in the country’s history.
Fidelis Onyeriri was the former director of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and was in office when one of two crashes that saw significant loss of lives: the Sosoliso disaster in 2005, that saw only two survivors, the Bellview disaster, also in 2005 killed all crew and passengers on board happened.
Others include Mfon Udom, the former managing director/chief executive officers and Austin Omame both from the now defunct ADC airline, which had two major crashes that ended with 230 people killed, before it finally went bust.
It certainly is a dilemma for the presidency. On the one hand finding people with adequate technical knowledge and understanding of the civilian aviation industry in order to ask the right questions and look underneath the carpet in all the right corners is a must. Choosing people who have been at the helm during the worst times in Nigerian aviation could certainly be of benefit, as they (should) have learned lessons that could be invaluable to the proceedings going forward.
The panel was put together after the deadly Dana Air crash that rocked the nation on June 3, 2012, and has cast a pall over the improving safety record of the Nigerian aviation industry.