Nigeria is demanding that the African Development Bank (AfDB) take over the funding of several projects geared at maintaining air safety in Africa following the decision of the United States of America to suspend the allocation of funds for the ‘safe sky programme’ in Africa.
Commissioner/CEO of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) of Nigeria, Mr. Akin Olateru, who said there were no clear reasons why the US announced recently it was no longer funding the ‘safe sky programme’, disclosed that top Nigerian government officials had opened discussions with the AfDB on how to secure funds for aviation safety related projects on the continent. Through the Safe Sky Programme, the US had sought to grow infrastructure and manpower capabilities in a host of African states, and Nigeria had remained one of the major beneficiaries over the years.
“We don’t know why the US stopped the funding for the Safe Sky Programme for Africa, but we are very thankful and appreciate what they have done over the years for Africa through this initiative,” Olateru added.
“What this means is that Africa must take up the sponsorship of the project in order to make aviation very safe because when aircraft is down, it doesn’t distinguish the nationality of passengers.
“And so the initiative is to get the AfDB to fund the safe sky project and there are talks going on at present by Nigeria on how to make this to work,” said Olateru.
The Nigerian AIB boss, however, explained that because the AfDB was unwilling to release money directly to safety agencies or parastatals in Africa like the AIB, efforts were made to bring in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) into ongoing talks as gurantor in the deal.
“The AfDB needs an independent and credible international body to release money easily and the plan is to bring in ICAO,” he added.
Olateru said within his two-year reign as the CEO of the AIB, he has initiated massive reforms in the agency with investments in the acquisition of the requisite technology and on staff training. He said through the safe sky programme for Africa, several safety and accident investigators from Nigeria had been trained by the US National Transportation Safety Board.
“With the assistance from the US government, the Nigeria AIB is today ranked among the best in the world and number one in West and Central Africa such that we are currently conducting investigations for so many countries in Africa and also helping in staff trainings,” he added.