Workers Seek Relocation of NCAA Headquarters to Lagos

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Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman

Chinedu Eze

Workers of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have called on the federal government to review a current administrative system which designates Lagos as its operational office, while Abuja is the corporate office, noting that it slows down critical decision making.

The workers said unless urgent action was taken by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to address the situation, it may lead to safety breach, saying currently decisions that should be taken in one hour, now takes about three days.

A senior NCAA official told THISDAY on Wednesday that airlines could wait for three days before they could receive approval for their aircraft to be inspected because the Director General who is in Abuja would have to approve the request before the mail would be brought to Lagos where directive would be implemented.

He said if the situation continues, where airlines would wait for such a long time before they put their aircraft into the air, some of them might begin to breach safety standards, which might lead to accident.

“There is a looming crisis in the way NCAA is being run currently. Lagos is now the operational headquarters while Abuja is the corporate headquarters.

“Every day, we have a courier services that takes documents to Abuja from Lagos where they are signed and returned in the evening to Lagos. The courier service is once a day. This is sluggish because an approval that should take one hour takes days before it is endorsed and returned to Lagos.

“The idea of relocating to Abuja is not working because it cannot be sustained. This hampers quick decision making on critical issues. This system, I recall, was started in 2008 by the former Director General, Dr Harold Demuren, but he could not sustain it so he returned to Lagos.

“All we do is about safety and safety is a critical issue, which should be dealt with in a timely manner. Every day you take documents to Abuja and Director General will start working on them and it can take days.

“If we don’t take time, this may give rise to major safety breach. Airlines may begin to find ways to short cut these delays. It portends safety breach,” the NCAA official who pleaded to remain anonymous said.

However, THISDAY spoke to the General Manager, Public Affairs of NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, who allayed fears of safety breach, saying that the system started since 2008 and it has been a process that has not hindered the workings of the agency in any way.

“This is not correct, Lagos has been the operational headquarters of NCAA since 2008 and Abuja has been corporate headquarters. The corporate headquarters in Abuja is under construction but the Director General has office in the old NCAA building.

“We have automated system, which means everybody gets whatever decision has been taken; it does not matter where the Director General is.
“Critical issues that border on safety are taken care of by the Flight Safety Group, which is in Lagos. It is only the Directors of Human Resources and Finance that are in Abuja with the Director General who also has office here in Lagos.

“Other directorates are here in Lagos, which include Airworthiness, Flight Safety Group, Aeromedical, Legal; that is enforcement and compliance, so if anybody is saying that it means the person is not well informed. Ours is a system that is automated and it is working very well,”Adurogboye said.

THISDAY also spoke to other NCAA workers on how to boost the morale of the staff and they said that the in-coming Director General must restore staff training and provide office with working tools.

The workers also demanded comprehensive health insurance and lamented that currently the arrangement is opaque, “that is why many of us are dying of treatable ailments.”