The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), NAAPE and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) have been engaged in brickbat over the secondment and promotion of the President of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) Benjamin Okewufrom from the College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria to the Bureau.
NAAPE, which frowned on the transfer, condemned it, saying that Okewu was not qualified to be promoted from Level 12 to 15 to head the human resources department of AIB, while there were two AIB officials already on level 14 who they argued were more qualified to head the department.
NAAPE had written petitions to concerned authorities, including the Ministry of Transportation, alleging that Okewu did not have the technical experience to head the department, as an official of NAAPE was alleged to have physically confronted the Commissioner of the Bureau, Dr. Felix Abali.
But the Bureau had explained that level 12 in the academic system is equivalent to level 14 in the civil service and that Okewu was to be promoted to level 13 last January, which automatically placed him on level 15 in the civil service; therefore he was qualified to head the human resources department of the Bureau.
Not unrelenting, NAAPE was said to have written petitions to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Department of State Service (DSS) the Nigeria Police, the Ministry of Trannsportation and even to the Presidency, accusing Abali of corrupt practices.
THISDAY learnt that investigations carried out by all the relevant organisations, including the Presidency exonerated Abali of all the allegations levelled against him.
This crisis has led to frosty relationship between NAAPE and ATSSSAN as animosity has continued to grow over the matter, which has remained unresolved.
Until recently labour unions in the aviation industry work together but this matter has thawed the good relationship, as NAAPE was alleged to be inciting the other labour organisations against ATSSSAN and Okewu.
Inside sources told THISDAY that this incident had given rise to old animosity in the industry where petitions and counter petitions seem to erode the good working relationship among aviation agencies.
“The deluge of petitions and current subterfuge are the handiwork of the same cabal that had fought past administrations since the inception of the Bureau. They bitterly fought Dr. Sam Oduselu, the pioneer Commissioner and Captain Muhtar Usman before he was posted to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The same cabal is at work to oust Abali, hoping to gain power and control in the agency,” AIB official told THISDAY.
Informed source said the local union leaders were recently involved in insulting the Commissioner under the guise of trade unionism.
“Before the management could decide what to do about it, NAAPE had taken the matter to the media portraying the Commissioner as a violent personality. Although the National secretariat is believed to be reaching out to the AIB management to preempt possible sanction, the option left to the management is to decide whether it wants to dance to the union’s tune or set a bad precedent of allowing insubordination in the organisation,” a unionist told THISDAY.