The Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Engineer Akin Olateru in the next three months or so, will clock three years on the saddle of managing air accident and related occurrences.
He recently x-rayed his performance and scorecard with a resounding verdit to do more in reposition the nation’s aviation sector and ensuring accident-free air space in the country.
When I came in, in January 2017, AIB was at its lowest ebb. I inherited disgruntled staff, a poorly funded agency. An agency of government you can say on mandate in terms of performance scoring below 35 per cent. Today, I stand tall before you to let you know parts of our achievements since we came into government.
I said earlier that there are two major components that shape our lives, that are your values and your beliefs and they influence your decisions in a great deal and they influence everything we do. When I came in, our beliefs and values we had to work on them. On the human elements or human capital, we had a lot to do on that and we did a lot on that and part of the improvements we made in our human capital was training and retraining, changing the mindset of our investigators.
We moved away from our individualistic way of doing things to a group way of doing things; training them to know the effect of good team work. These are one of the key things we concentrated on. In doing that, we needed the assistance and support of great institutions around the world. It makes sense to learn from the best and we approached some nations, institutions at that time.
I stand today to tell you that the United States Government has been our greatest ally and greatest supporters through the National Transport Safety Bureau (NTSB). They have been in reality and major pillar of support. They have supported us with everything humanly possible through the Managing Director then, Mr. Dennis Jones who has been to Nigeria on several occasions to train our investigators with his team.
The US government through the Safe Skies for Africa programme supported us immensely. We have other nations who didn’t believe in us. I really sincerely want to thank the US government especially the NTSB and most especially Mr. Dennis Jones who is a gift to the world. He has been a major pillar of support. Without them, maybe, we won’t be where we are today.
Today, we have nations signing Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Nigeria, believing in what we do and want to emulate us, want us to support them. They want us to work with them, they want to share from our experience. We have South Africa, we have Saudi Arabia; we have Gabon. There are talks ongoing on partnership with these nations.
Currently, we have signed an MoU with France, Benin Republic, Sao Tome and Principe and in the next one month, we will be signing with Saudi Arabia. These are great nations. But to me, you must have something sellable; you must have something they see in you that they admire in you before they want to sign an MoU with you.
In terms of infrastructure, you will agree with me that there are four key elements to that irrespective of the industry or the sector. The four major components are; human capital, infrastructure, equipment and systems processes and procedure. You need to score seven and half over 10 in each of these components. It takes time to build all these four key elements. Today, I can tell you in terms of equipment, AIB is one of the best in the world. I thank the Sen. Hadi Sirika, the past Minister of State for Transportation for his belief and support for making it happen.