The Airline Operators of Nigeria and the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, clashed at the Senate on Monday when the aircraft owners sought the inclusion of their members on the board of the National Civil Aviation Authority.
The minister and the AON representative, Chinasa Unaegburam, tacked each other at the opening of a three-day public hearing on six executive bills meant to reorganise and restructure the six agencies in the aviation sector for efficiency and growth.
Unaegburam had proposed an amendment to Section 5 of the NCAA Act to make provisions for AON members on its board.
She said, “They (AON) are people who are operating the airlines and they can give a perspective to policies.
The AON also sought an amendment to Clause 23 of the NCAA Act, seeking a reduction of the five per cent contract and service charge.
Unaegburam said, “On the cost of imposing five per cent contract sales and service charge; that five per cent has been in law since 2006. Our proposal is that consideration be given to lowering that percentage.
“We propose 1.5 per cent but it is subject to negotiation. The operators have to operate efficiently which is a very important issue for the operators.”
Trouble started when the minister interjected and told the gathering that the AON could not speak on the occasion because there was a litigation it was battling with in court.
Members of the AON at the forum disagreed and shouted that they were not in court.
The Vice Chairman of the Senate panel, Senator Bala Ibn Nallah, however, doused the tension.
He urged the minister to make peace with all stakeholders in the sector in order to succeed in his endeavour.
Sirika, however, said members of the AON have been making things difficult for the sector as a result of their huge indebtedness.
The minister said, “We have concerns and they are very genuine.
“NCAA operates on cost recovery basis. They (AON) are owing us $6.9m and another N19.3bn.
“She (Unaegburam) is proposing that the percentage goes down and the money is not there.
“These are monies we get from tickets and they ought to be remitting this money so that we can train more inspectors and keep the industry safe.
“We are here so we get a very robust Civil Aviation Act.”
Members of the committee cautioned the minister and urged him to allow stakeholders to express their views.