There is a fresh hurdle over the recent transformation of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) into the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB).
This follows the provision of the Act establishing the bureau stipulating that appointment of Directors in the bureau must reflect federal character.
The development is causing uneasy calm as the agency continues its activities under a new nomenclature.
AIB was the aviation agency in charge of investigation of air accidents and incidents.
Following the passage of the Civil Aviation Act 2022, a new investigating body covering other modes of transportation was approved giving effect to the NSIB and expanding the responsibilities of the bureau to cover railway, marine and road transportation modes.
However, going by the provision of the new Act, the appointment of Directors must reflect the federal character principle.
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Section 13 Subsection 2 of the Act states thus: “The composition of the directors of the Bureau appointed under subsection (1) shall reflect equity and fairness as enshrined in section 14 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”
Section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution as amended read: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Currently the NSIB formerly AIB has four Directors who are all from the same North-West geopolitical zone which runs contrary to the provision of the Act establishing the bureau.
A source said, “Yes, the law was recently passed and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Act was gazetted just in November 2022. I am sure the bureau is still at its formative stage and the Ministry will work towards meeting the provisions of the law establishing it including the appointment of Directors which is the responsibility of the Minister as clearly stated in section 13 (1).”
Already the bureau has set up an in-house committee for the implementation of the new Act and seamless transition from AIB-N to NSIB.
But sources say there are agitations for the correction of the anomaly as the bureau begins the process of full transition into a new multimodal agency.
Director-General of NSIB, Engr. Akin Olateru recently said the Bureau would require more hands in its new role of investigating accidents and serious incidents in all modes of Transportation, saying already some investigators with the bureau are undergoing training on multimodal accident investigation.
Aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu said the failure to comply with federal character is not only applicable in AIB now NSIB but other Aviation agencies.
He said, “Does the law book of Nigeria, Constitution not say that appointments to the government agencies must be based on Federal Character? How has the government been complying with this provision? Who has challenged the government for the negligence of this provision?
“There are many abuses of our various laws but unfortunately, everyone is too quiet about them all and therefore my question always is: who will save us from ourselves?
Minister to comply with Act – Aide
When contacted, the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation, Dr James Odaudu, said the Minister will comply fully with the provisions of the Act, saying the Ministry is still studying the new Act.
He said, “Even though I have not read the NSIB Act, I can assure you that whatever the Ministry or the Minister will do will be in line with the Act. We are all studying the Act to understand the specifics.”