Campaign to Remove NCAA DG Thickens

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By Chinedu Eze

There are indications that the federal government may begin to shop for a new Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) following a groundswell campaign for the removal of the incumbent, Captain Usman Muhtar.

 This followed series of petitions written against him and submitted to the Ministry of Transportation, which alleged that Muhtar who was the former Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) did not resign his appointment before taking up the appoint as the Director General of NCAA.

It was also alleged that Muhtar has a very bitter workforce, having  annulled training programmes, which are part of the key activities of the regulatory body and workers’ allowances and payment for training are either withdrawn or were delayed since he took over as Director General.

THISDAY learnt that officials at the Ministry of Transportation had started investigation into the allegations, including the statement that there were no documents besides letter of appointment in his office file, leaving a very scanty information about him.

But the Director General who spoke with THISDAY yesterday dismissed the allegations and described those writing the petitions as mischievous.

“All the things I have done are contained in my CV and since I started working, from being an instructor at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria to when I worked with the Nigeria Airways Limited to working with a private company, Chanchangi Airlines, my age has not changed. I also worked with the Ministry of Aviation before I became the Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) before I was appointed as the Director General of NCAA.

“The appointment said that I was to move to NCAA; I didn’t have to resign. That was why I didn’t collect a kobo from AIB as entitlements when I left,” Muhtar said.

On the allegation of poor welfare of the NCAA staff and lack of training, he said Single Treasury Account policy has put a lot of bureaucracy in accessing the agency funds and currently NCAA has domiciliary account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is yet to explain the modalities for accessing money by the agency.

 He also said a new government policy had directed that only the technical training would be allowed to be done overseas; that all other trainings must be done in Nigeria, adding that the last official trips he made out of the country he funded them from his personal pocket.

However, a source in the Ministry of Transportation said Muhtar’s failure to resign his appointment before coming to head NCAA contravened government regulations “to assume a political office without first resigning a previous civil service appointment on attaining the mandatory 35 years of service or 60 years of age whichever comes first.

“Administratively, when your are appointed chief executive, you should retire your appointment as a civil servant before accepting the fresh position, in this case from our records here in the Ministry, even after leaving as CEO of AIB, he was still drawing salaries from AIB, while reporting here in Abuja,” the official alleged.