Nigeria may fail the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit slated for 2022 due to inability of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to attract and retain adequate technical personnel for its operations, it was disclosed.
ICAO carries out a universal safety oversight audit programme (USOAP) to determine member states’ safety capabilities and the status of States’ implementation of all safety-relevant ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (found in 17 of the 19 ICAO Annexes), associated procedures, guidance material, and best safety practices.
The eight areas of a member state’s aviation system that the audit programme monitors are: primary aviation legislation and associated civil aviation regulations; civil aviation organisational structure; personnel licensing activities and aircraft operations.
Others are: aerodromes; air navigation services and accident; airworthiness of civil aircraft as well as serious incident investigations.
However, with indications that Nigeria may miss out due to the inability of NCAA to attract and retain technical personnel which is one of the many areas ICAO audit focuses on; aviation stakeholders have urged NCAA to get manpower support from the aviation public agencies, such as; the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and other credible retired staff of aviation agencies.
Lamenting the absence of technical personnel, during the recent 25th annual conference and awards, organised by the league of airport and aviation correspondents (LAAC), in Lagos, the director general, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said this is the major challenge confronting the regulatory agency.
He explained that attracting and retaining these personnel was critical for effective oversight of the industry, but regretted that the agency’s salaries and wages were not competitive enough to entice personnel.
He, however, said, the challenge was not limited to Nigeria alone, rather a global menace affecting all civil aviation authorities (CAAs).
“Sadly this was a finding in the last ICAO universal safety oversight audit programme (USOAP) continuous monitoring approach (CMA). This problem is global and not peculiar to Nigeria as CAA’s salaries and wages are not competitive with that of the industry’s rival for the services of these technical personnel,” he pointed out. Besides, he expressed the country’s readiness for the 2022 ICAO USOAP in 2022, stressing that, the agency like others would scale the hurdle.
Also, Nuhu observed that the emergence of the third wave of COVID-9, Delta variant, was another challenge facing the aviation industry, but assured that the agency, like others, was up to the task to tackle the challenge.
He noted that, as the recovery from Covid-19 moves into full gear, NCAA, while keeping a watch on the pandemic, was shifting gears in repositioning towards the effectiveness and efficiency of its statutory function of its safety oversight.
Some of the actions taken, according to him, included the restructuring of the authority from eight to six directorates for a more responsive and flexible functionality, the automation of internal processes through the implementation change management and acquisition of appropriate ICT systems, which he said was ongoing.