Chairman of the House Committee on International Agreement and Convention, Hon. Ekundayo Bush-Alebiosu
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
House of Representatives at the weekend disputed a sum of $100,000 which the management of Dana Airlines was supposed to pay victims of the June 3 plane crash, saying that the actual amount the airline should compensate each victim to the tune of $171,000 if the current exchange rate is considered.
The lower chamber also lamented a whopping sum of N100 billion, which it said the country “is losing annually to the poor management of the aviation industry and that Nigerians are short-changing Nigerians”.
Chairman of the House Committee on International Agreement and Convention, Hon. Ekundayo Bush-Alebiosu, who gave the figure in an interview with journalists in Lagos, noted that the victim of the plane crash would be paid 133,100 units of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) currency structure.
According to him, “the victims will be paid 113, 100 unit of the International Monetary Fund currency structure. The exchange rate to dollars then was $100,000. If the victims wish to be compensated in local currency, that should be arranged between the parties. If one wishes to be paid in foreign currency, it can also be arranged.”
The lawmaker, who is currently representing Kosofe Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, explained that the current exchange rate of 113,100 units “is $171,000 which should be paid as compensation to the relatives of the victims of Dana plane crash, a 30 percent of which must be paid within 30 days after the incident.”
He asked the management of Dana Air to comply with the Montreal Convention, noting that if Nigeria “has not domesticated the convention, those who died in the plane crash would have been completely let down. That is how the National Assembly was able to resolve that before the deadline. Dana must adhere to the convention.
“In compliance with the Montreal Convention, there is a $171, 000 that must be paid to the victims out of which 30 percent of it must be paid within the first 30 days after the crash as against the $100, 000 that were said to be paid by the management of the airline. Dana should completely adhere to the convention as long as they wish to still carry out their service in Nigeria,” Bush-Alebiosu said.
On what the country loses annually, the lawmaker explained that the essence of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) “is to protect Nigerians. But we are not taking full advantage of the agreement. This is because Nigeria is losing well above N100 billion annually in this industry, which is not supposed to be so.
“I will like to cite an example of BASA between Nigeria and United Kingdom. We started with less than 12 frequencies. We have some issues on our part because our national carriers do not have the capacity to certify those provisions. In the agreement, they were allowed to fly to major cities in Nigeria, namely Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
“But our carriers were only allowed to Heathrow. Now, we have our local carriers who fly our local ram, but because they have the approval of landing in major cities in Nigeria, it has taken away a huge chunk. We do not have any impact connecting flight to the country. We did not establish that,” he explained.