Senate summons Aviation Minister over air mishaps

Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, Nigeria

Worried by the recent air accident in the country, the Nigerian Senate  on Tuesday, summoned the Minister of State Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to appear before it and explain why such mishaps have been occurring and measures taken to avoid subsequent occurrences.

A motion filed by Senator Gbenga Ashafa brought to the notice of the senators that two air mishaps had accoutred in the country in just February of 2018 alone. Senator Ashafa said the cause of the recent mishaps could be as a result of the negligence of the officials and staff of the aviation agencies.

He said the staff may not have carried out due diligence before giving a clear passage for air crafts to take off. Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika He said one of the recent crafts involved in a mishap was Dana airline which skidded off the runway upon landing at the Port Harcourt airport.

The plane had taken off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. The plane had flown to Port Harcourt from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in the nation’s capital Abuja.

But the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Henrietta Yakubu, explained the incident saying, “The incident was suspected to have been caused by a heavy rain, which was accompanied by strong wind and storm in Port Harcourt.

“No casualty was recorded, as all passengers on board were safely evacuated.

But the lawmaker, Senator Ashafa, has expressed concerned that these recent occurrences might be a sign of a sequence of human errors caused by the failure of officials and staff of agencies, to carry out due diligence before issuing clearance for aircraft to operate within the Nigerian airspace.

However, for Senator Stella Oduah, “Aviation Ministry is the most regulated ministry in Nigeria. However, the responsibility lies mostly with the pilot.”

Senator Mao Ohuabunwa suggested that Dana Airline be suspended.  “It’s important this is investigated properly, Dana Airline should be suspended and properly checked. I support this motion.”

Senator Aliyu Sabi said, “I advice we declare an emergency on the airport situations.” However, the Senate resolved to direct the Honourable Minister of State for Transportation (Aviation) to appear before it “to give a full briefing on the steps that have been taken to minimize human errors and avoid preventable air crashes.”

The Senate also resolved to “urge the Honourable Minister of State for Transportation (aviation) to immediately direct all relevant agencies in the aviation industry to immediately conduct a maintenance and airworthiness audit on all commercial aircraft operating within the Nigerian Airspace.” The Senate also resolved that training of personnel operating within the industry be done.

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