The Acting Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Engr. Benedict Adeyileka is a very unassuming and purposeful man. Those who know him say he possesses a huge sense of humour and does not shy away from life’s niceties.
Engr. Adeyileka says, he is on a mission in the aviation industry. His professional experience spanning decades and in several countries around the world as a consummate engineer is the enablement he requires for the job of a Director General. He has vowed to make a success of it and with the demonstrable passion he will plant his feet on the sand of time.
He had a parley with the entire staff of the Authority’s Public Relations department at the Aviation House Conference room recently. He was full of wits and was shooting from the hips.
You are the Director of Airworthiness Standards and coming to occupy the seat of the Director General, do you see yourself from a different terrain?
Okay thank you very much, I have assumed that I am very fortunate to be in the position at this time. I have a one year apprenticeship time to study the whole system. May be if I came in newly that would have been very tough but being here as the Director of Airworthiness is not the same as coming from outside world into the system. I am already part of the system, I was able to see things differently. I was able to stand and say this is how things should be done.
The only restriction I had as DAWS was that I was heading a directorate and it also gave me an overview of what was going on in other directorates. I used to approach the DG then and I will tell him Oga, this is not the way things should be resolved ad this is the way I think it should be. However, there were certain things I could not enforce, they were issues outside my directorate. Issues from Directorate of Air Transport (DATR), Directorate of Consumer Protection (DCP), and other directorates are brought to me and sometimes I have to defend it.
That is why we work together even at the Management meetings, I have always tried to solve issues outside my directorate. Therefore as an acting DG, I already had experience in the different directorates. I have been able to understand how the system works with NCAA.
I understand directives, I understand scheme of service. But what I have the opportunity to do now as an acting DG is to unite every directorate and departments because it is a leadership issue. I am now on the driving seat and I now decided this is the way everybody is going, it is the same we did during the category one and we achieved what we achieved by doing that. No one was ignorant of the category one exercise because we worked together as a team.
We saw Administration, Human Resources, ICT; even the media too lent their support. I want to continue in that momentum. Though there are inter-departmental responsibilities but that won’t stop us from working together. During the Consumer Protection Council’s imbroglio, DCP, Legal department and Public Relations Department worked together to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.
But the overall thing is that we worked together for results. I wish that this will continue be case. On the side of Union, I have addressed them, actually what most management don’t understand about the union is who are the Union members? They are our own people. They are my staff in whom I am pleased.
As far as I am concerned what are you fighting for? You fight for welfare and transparency and already put welfare on top of my agenda. Let us be proactive by working together as one , we should learn to pass out information to ourselves simultaneously.
What I am good at is to bring out the best in every individual. Our primary assignment is to ensure safety. Consumer protection comes in and is to make sure that the passengers are not belligerent. For me every directorate and department is important.
So, let us work in harmony, because I want results. By working together the corporate image of the organization will be portrayed in a good light. The press has done so well at least we have to commend your department for handling any media or press issues. What am trying to say is that we are on the right path, let us continue to work together.
What type of challenges have you faced so far as Acting DG?
I think the first challenge I had was immediate, due to the sudden announcement of the appointment. However, like I said earlier, I was able to work with other directors and head of departments. I have to be honest with you the first challenge I had was to ensure all the directorates work together as a team. We are also working on increasing our income at the authority.
Income generation is top of my agenda, very important. When there is increase in revenue, it will enable us to achieve better staff welfare that I am hoping to achieve. Welfare cost money and you have to prioritize, salary is part of the welfare. It is very important that we make sure that salary is not delayed by one, we have even gone beyond that.
At the time you took over as the Acting DG has there been any visible changes in aviation?
As a Christian, it affects a lot of things I do. I am always very pragmatic, my becoming an acting DG has nothing to do with me, it is just an act of God. I took over as the acting when category one recertification exercise was on. That was also the time we had to go and defend our budget. In fact, there were a lot of things, I have to confess to you is that it was so difficult for me to start, the media too was not helping matters by saying we are going to lose Category one when we have not even started.
So the first thing I did was to meet with the GM, Public Affairs, Fan Ndubuoke on how to handle the media. I have a lot of respect not only for my directors, I also have respect for my staff. All I know is that everybody has an important role to play. So those are the challenges we will overcome. Financial challenges we have overcome because I know you have been hearing some alerts of your DTA lately, it will continue to come.
Those are part of the leadership, I have put my foot down, as we paying the contractors we will also be paying ourselves. Then we have the operators, I keep telling people that for anyone to have enough money or plan to go to the bank to source for funds to buy an aircraft, he is a contributor to the economic growth of the country. I treat the operators with respect irrespective of who they are. I treat them as customers.
Because if you look at it, we are an internally generated revenue company, so those people are paying for the services we are giving, it’s not free. On our regulations, the feedback I am getting from the industry is that they are complying and if an operator complies there is no need for sanction. Sanctions are necessary if an operator refuses to comply with things recently and we are still doing that.
And that is what we have achieved because we are together. Please I am human, I must make mistakes but I want to avoid intentional mistakes, I will not go out of my way to make mistakes, but I will also learn from my mistake as soon it is highlighted.
Now, how prepared are you for your present position?
As a matter of fact, I always get offers to go back to Europe, however, anytime it comes and I say am going back something will come up. I have allowed my sentiment to overcome because over there I supposed I have reached my peak really.
I think I am doing what I have done all my life and I have genuine passion for it. I love the technicality attached to my roles because I am a technical person. As the Director of Airworthiness at NCAA, my advices were contentious at times but it has to do my wide ranging experience. I can confidently talk about ICT, generators, plumbing etc I will tell you about it.
The advantage I have now as the acting DG is that all these directorates fall under my purview, so I can now deploy my across board experience into the use. I am so happy now that I have the opportunity to make all the directorates stronger. However, I cannot do it alone. I learnt so much since I became an acting DG. If don’t know I ask questions.
That was how I got familiar to the regulations because I was there when they were launching it in 2009 and I asked a lot of question. I was opportune to set up an airline in Nigeria, I was also opportune to be an airworthiness director at Airk and Aerocontractor. Those are things I am putting to use now.
That the available office space can no longer accommodate the current workforce. Is there any plan to build more edifies for additional office space?
Yes, in our last management meeting we found out that and the issue of welfare was raised. The plan is to move some of the Portal Cabins back into the annex, while we build another office block here. It is still going through due process and we all know we have a plan.
Even the Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) suggested that instead of making it a bungalow why not make it a storey building like this. So I think that has been amended and we working on it. All these Portal Cabins are going to the annex. What I have also done now it to move some Portal Cabins from Abuja to our facility in Oshodi.
Not only I have signed for the movement of the Portal Cabin, I have also signed for their refurbishment, including the ones we have here. So they are going to serve as temporary office accommodation while we erect a new building. The whole idea is that most of the Directors will be here with some staff. That is the plan now, it is ongoing.
What is the position of 2014 staff training programme?
Actually for 2014, during Cat 1 recertification, what we did in NCAA out of wisdom was to extract all the technical trainings from the budget and we sought approval from the Minister and from the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation.
The Honourable Minister of Aviation (HMA) graciously signed and that is why we were able to fulfill one of the requirements of the reassessment. What we are now doing because of time, is working on the pipeline to get the other directorates ones approved.
We have been doing a lot that’s why have not been seeing me during the week, that’s what we have been trying to do to have a group network so that, so we will not be embarrassed and by the Grace of God will have another appointment to see the HMA and as we speak now the Director of Human Resources (DHR) is in Abuja trying to go to bring up the proposal, he is also chasing other things to go to the Government.
So, we are trying in our own way, this is part of my commitment because there are some issues when this things were taken to Abuja initially. To the best of my knowledge manpower development and training is under DHR, so one thing we did cleverly was this promotion committee thing because there are people standing by for promotion for a long time and we decide to act to it.
I even did a mini one within my directorate because the condition of service allowed me to put people to acting positions. What we have done now, we have combined the list to the ministry, I now assigned DHR since it is his purview he should go and chase it. So he is there as we speak now and Yamsikit will join him tomorrow to follow it up. We also formed a committee for scheme of service.
Please I want clarity and I want sincerity in the system, I have made sure everybody is represented. The most important thing is I do what I think is right and that is why am trying to be very transparent. In our management meeting all directorates are represented including your own, let us work together to move this industry forward I cannot do it alone.
Looking at the volume of passengers that we have in the country would you say that you have confidence in the aviation industry in Nigeria?
We can do better our airlines don’t have enough capacity. We can work closely with NAMA. The Opening hour of the airport is another problem. I will cite a an example, in Owerri if an aircraft doesn’t departs I think is 5’0 clock I think it will be cancelled because it leaves Lagos to get there at 6’o clock that is our biggest problem. However I am working hand in hand with the airports authority. The passengers don’t understand that if there is a delay it is because they can’t make it back.
Now, I am now encouraging AZMAN and Discovery, we are also working with Overland, they are bringing their B737. What we have done is Aerocontractor has changed by dropping their fares. I was still in Aerocontractor when this happened. It was a service Aerocontractor wants to do for the industry.
Before, Aerocontractor use to work in the oil and gas sector, now they decided to go into commercial flights operations. I can see a lot of areas we have not tapped, I can see increased operations into Asaba, Kano and Sokoto so competition is there now, it will also improve safety. Consumer Protection has to work with PR to move the industry forward. Courtesy: The Regulator
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