Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, says the agency is in dire need of highly skilled personnel to efficiently regulate the aviation industry and ensure air safety. Nuhu regretted that such category of personnel had shunned the authority because of poor remuneration.
The NCAA boss spoke yesterday in Lagos while addressing aviation correspondents. He was reacting to an earlier request by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) that the NCAA be removed from the civil service salary structure, in a recent letter to the senate.
Nuhu also explained that such professionals went to airlines where they were paid about four times what they could earn in NCAA and others chose to go overseas for greener pastures. He said the agency was constrained as a government agency operating under public service rules and civil service salary structure.
According to him, currently, the agency has young and retiring technical staff, but needs highly qualified and experienced middle cadre personnel to expand, sustain, and even surpass the standard of aircraft and airline inspection already attained.
Nuhu stated, “NCAA is a government agency and not an independent body; we operate under public service rules and government salary structure. We have very experienced pilots with minimum of 4,000 flying hours.
“That is the recommendation to be a flying instructor, but our pay is poor when compared to what the industry is paying. Our pay within the civil service structure seems to be great, but if you compare that to the closest we need from the industry, our pay is poor.
“So, people will rather go and work in the industry as a captain, earn some millions of naira than to come here and earn less than N1 million.
“The only people that come to work for NCAA as flight operation inspectors are people who have retired from flying. People who have attained the age of 65 years or more and we employed them on special contracts and even as a special contract staff, when you get to 70 years of age, you are supposed to leave. AON is complaining because of the delay in attending to them because we don’t have enough personnel.”
He stated that the agency needed to get people who could be employed as regular staff, experts under 50 years old and willing to work and retire at the mandatory age of 60. He said after the retirement, the agency could still engage them as contract staff for another 10 years.
Nuhu said that would help to promote stability in the system.
The director general said, “According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) documents 9737, we are supposed to be a competitive employer, but because we are under the civil service rule, which we must comply with, I cannot compete with the airlines in the hiring of staff and, on the other side, the aviation safety inspectors, they come out of school, we employ them, train them, they are here for six years and when they are about to become very productive for the system, the private sector comes and attracts them with better salaries and take them away.
“We need to find a way of balancing this so that the system gets enough technical personnel to function. We are, however, working on the government to see how things can be addressed. There is a limit we can pay. We are working with the ministry through the Minister of Aviation, Head of Service and Salaries and Wages Commission to see how we can address this.”
Meanwhile, Nuhu reacted to the theft of aircraft equipment in an Arik Air leased airplane parked at the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, known as MMA2, attributing the development to an insider job. He alleged that persons who knew the aircraft well had accessed it and stolen the equipment.
He stated, “For all I can say, investigations are ongoing on the incident, but I won’t say it was a vandalisation. What happened was that somebody who obviously knew where the aircraft was, somebody who knew obviously what he was doing, went to the E and E2 compartments, walked in there and removed a component professionally without damaging anything. So, figure out that for yourself.
“As far as I am concerned, it is an on-going investigation. So, we will wait for the outcome of the investigation. It is very clear that I cannot go to the very technical part of the aircraft and remove something there.
“I must know something about it and I am not new to the system. Who did that know what he was doing? The security agencies are investigating the issue. Unfortunately, these issues happen everywhere. It is not the best to happen in your country, but it has already happened and we are investigating it and we will put in measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”