Amaechi’s aircraft has been banned from flying Nigeria’s airspace.
The Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation on technical issues, Victor Oche, on Wednesday defended the decision to ground the Rivers State-owned bombardier aircraft from flying Nigeria’s airspace. The ministerial aide stated this on a Ray Power radio programme called Political platform.
Mr. Oche said after the death of the former Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, and the National Security adviser, Andrew Azazi, in December 2012, a new aviation policy was developed to ensure stricter measures placed on the movements of aircraft in Nigeria.
“The era of having an aircraft and you operate within your own law is no more. Aviation is global. We must maintain the standard. The lives of individuals matter to us. Unfortunately we lost a former NSA and a governor because of all these private shuttles. And that is why we are so strict on movement of aircraft and personnel, passengers within the aircraft that is why there is new aviation policy that has been developed,” he said.
Mr. Oche said an aircraft can fly within a country if it was registered within the country or was registered outside the country but has a clearance stating where the aircraft will be going to and where it will make its landing.
In what seemed like an attack owing to the running battle between the governor of River State, Rotimi Amechi and the President Goodluck Jonathan, the later faced a scuffle with the aviation authorities on Friday, April 26, when the state owned aircraft carrying him and some other public officials, were grounded in Akure, Ondo State.
At the time, the federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, said the plane was blocked from taking off because the pilot failed to declare the flight manifest.
Mr. Amechi debunked this claim saying the pilot definitely declared the manifest and asked the aviation authorities to “explain to Nigerians why an aircraft owned by a State government, that flew the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal and a democratically elected Governor of a State who also is the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, would be grounded at an airport for no just cause”.
Mr. Oche, during the Ray Power Radio programme, said Mr. Amechi was unnecessarily politicizing the situation and should be grateful to the aviation ministry for allowing him fly at all.
He said the Managing Director of National Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, only let Mr. Amaechi fly because of his status.
“…because of the personalities involved, the Managing Director of NAMA said we will sort these things out, we will do the manifest. …The governor of Rivers State should thank the aviation sector and not politicize everything,” he said.
“The beauty of the aviation sector, is private jets”
Mr. Oche referred to the flood of private jets in Nigeria as the beauty of the aviation industry.
Explaining his theory in vague terms, he compared Nigeria with America saying the later has 240, 000 private jets.
“I keep telling you people the beauty of the aviation sector is the private jet. In America alone you have 242,000 aircraft as private jet, Nigeria is growing. We are happy we have about 13.6 percent growth in private jet that is the beauty of the aviation sector. What we are saying is that we must play by the rules. We can’t because of immunity create impunity in the aviation sector,” Mr. Oche said
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