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Almost impossible to score above 70% in ICAO audit without airport certification – DG NCAA



Musa Nuhu 1

Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said that it is almost impossible for any country to score above 70% in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) without certification of any of its international airports.

Nuhu also explained that Nigeria lost about 12 points to the non-certification of the airports by the NCAA, but insisted that the apex regulatory body would not issue any bogus certification to an undeserving organisation no matter the situation.

70.2% Score as an improvement

Speaking with Nairametrics in an exclusive interview in Lagos over the weekend, Nuhu said that the 70.2% score in last month’s ICAO Safety audit was an improvement when compared to the previous exercise carried out in 2016.

Nigeria had scored 67% in the same audit in the 2016 exercise.

Nuhu further clarified that the required minimal standard of 75 per cent is for a full audit, while most states call for the ICAO Coordination Validation Mission (ICVM), a mini-audit, which reviews evidence of corrective action plans carried out by member states.

  • He said: “It is almost impossible to go above 70% with ICAO if you have not done your airport certification. We have not done our airport certification in Nigeria for the five international airports due to some challenges and difficulties.
  • “There is no need for me to sign airport certification when I know our airports do not meet the requirements. That will be more disastrous for Nigeria and there is also what you call the Significant Safety Concern (SSC). ICAO issues that to some states; that means the oversight function of a state is fundamental fraud.
  • “We did not get an SSC. There are things that people should be aware of. Believe me, in the next 12 to 18 months when we finish doing our proactive action plan, hopefully, we will have done certification of our airports and we will have closed some of the gaps. You will be surprised; our effective implementation scores would go well above the global average for ICVM.”

Nigeria’s five international airports

Nigeria currently has five international airports.

The airports are the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omegwa, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano and Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA), Enugu.

Lagos and Abuja airports were once certified by the NCAA for three years, but after the certification elapsed in 2020, the regulatory body refused to certify any of the two airports because they failed to meet the required industry standards for certification.

Also, the plan to certify Port Harcourt Airport had been on for over five years, but without success.

Omni-Blu’s conflict of interest

Nuhu further clarified that the NCAA did not suspend the ongoing Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of Omni-Blu Aviation (OBA), but rather raised questions about its ownership.

According to him, Engr. Akin Olateru, the Director-General of Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) duly resigned from his position as a director in the airline immediately he was appointed as a Commissioner in the then Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).

Nuhu explained that enquiries made at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), revealed that there was no conflict of interest in the application as speculated.

Reports had claimed recently that NCAA suspended the AOC processes for Omni-Blu Aviation (OBA), over conflict of interest.

A letter to the Managing Director, OBA, with the reference number: NCAA/DOLTS/LRO/OBA/VOL I/O3323, from NCAA, dated October 3, 2023, and obtained by Nairametrics, indicated that the apex aviation regulatory body suspended the certification due to “conflict of interest.”

According to the NCAA, the outcome of Phase Two of the certification exercise revealed that the airline’s major financier, Engr. Akin Olateru, is also presently the Director-General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB).

  • The letter reads in part: “As a result, the Authority has temporarily suspended the variation process and requested further clarification from Omni-Blu.
  • “According to the Civil Aviation Act 2022, Paragraph 19 outlines categories of government officials affected by Conflict of Interest, including the Minister of Aviation, Governing Board Members, Director-General, and Ministry of Aviation and Authority employees.” 

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