Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to ensure that all aircraft operating within the country are air worthy in order to keep the nation’s air travellers safe at all times.
This was sequel to a motion moved by Senator Gbenga Ashafa (Lagos East) on the need for Nigeria to protect its airspace from the Boeing 737 Max 8 series pending the determination of its air worthiness.
Two distinguished Nigerians namely Ambassador Abiodun Bashua, a former United Nations and African Union Deputy Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Sudan, and Pius Adesanmu, a Professor of Literary Arts in Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, were among the 157 victims of the Ethiopian passengers airline which caught fire few minutes after taking off on Sunday, March 10 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian capital.
The upper legislative chamber, however, commended the Ministry of Aviation and NCAA “for moving swiftly in mitigating the operations of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 series aircraft within the Nigerian airspace in order to ensure the safety of all Nigerians”.
Moving the motion, Ashafa noted that the two Nigerians who lost their lives in the ill-fated flight , “are individuals who had distinguished themselves in their fields and till their death remained worthy ambassadors of the country in the Diaspora”.
He recalled that sometimes in October 2018, a brand new Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 went down over the Java Sea killing 189 people, adding that the Ethiopian Airlines flight that killed 157 people including two illustrious Nigerians was equally a Boeing 737 Max 8 series.
According to him, the pilots have reportedly complained about the anti-stall system installed on the aircraft models Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 series.
He commended the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, for assuring that no Nigerian airline currently operating the aircraft series.
Ashafa quoted the minister as saying Nigeria has joined other countries, including Ethiopia, United States, United Kingdom and China in banning the operations of Boeing 737 Max 8 series within the Nigerian airspace.
The Senator also noted that the NCAA had already issued an advisory statement “that nobody should fly out of Nigeria or into Nigeria using the 737 Max 8 and 9 pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer themselves which is Messrs Boeing”.
Contributing, Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, commended the federal government for banning the operations of the aircraft series within the country’s airspace.
While Ohuabunwa called on the federal government to revive its own airline as it used to be in the days of Nigeria Airways, Olujimi stressed the need for proper regulation of all airlines operating in the country and overhauling of their aircraft with a view to saving the lives of air travellers.
The Senate thereafter observed a minute silence in honour of the two distinguished Nigerians who passed away in the ill-fated Ethiopian airline flight.