Nigerian opposition links air crash to corruption | Africa | DW | 06.06.2012
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Nigerian opposition links air crash to corruption

The search for bodies in Sunday's plane crash in Nigeria is now over. 153 people aboard and others on the ground died in the accident, which is raising questions about malpractice in the country's aviation industry.

Popular anger in Nigeria against the airline operating the plane, Dana Air, has risen since the crash and the Nigerian government has suspended its licence indefinitely.

Dana Air said the plane had its last safety inspection on May 30 and was certified to fly by Nigerian regulators.

Those regulators have their critics. One of them is Mohammed Jibrin, CEO of PEN Aviation Services, a private aviation consultancy firm in Abuja.

"The truth is that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is not living up to expectations. A lot of things are going wrong within the agency, a lot of sharp practices. The mandatory trainings are not done properly, there are cover-ups," he told DW's Hausa service.

Jibrin also noted there was a haphazard approach to rules and regulations.

"The signing out of an aircraft is done very irregularly, the inspections before importation of aircraft is done very shabbily," he added.

Asked if subscribed to the view that corruption is to blame for what is happening in the Nigerian aviation industry Jibrin replied "Absolutely!".

Haolrd Demuren

Aviation authority chief Harold Demuren declined to comment on calls for him to step aside

Joanthan pledges to improve air safety record

The Congress for Progress Change (CPC) is a Nigerian political party, whose candidate Muhammadu Buhari came second in the presidential elections in April 2011 that were won by Goodluck Jonathan.

In a statement to local media in the aftermath of Sunday's crash, the CPC lashed out at the ruling PDP party blaming "pervasive corruption of successive PDP-led governments" for best practices being "circumvented at will by airline operators."

The CPC concluded "The result of these infractions is what we witness with air disasters."

President Jonathan visited the crash scene on Monday and pledged to improve the country's patchy air safety record.

Full radar coverage

Nigeria has tried to redeem its aviation image in recent years saying it now has full radar coverage of the entire country. But Mohammed Jibrin stresses that this can only be part of the solution.

"Total radar coverage does not include the servicing of aircraft engines. It does not include training or retraining of pilots." he says.

The wreckage of a plane burns in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, June 3, 2012.

Investigators said they were not concerned with the age of the plane, but how well it was maintained

The Nigerian Senate has recommended that the director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Harold Demuren, step down. Jibrin says "The buck stops at Demuren's desk. He should vacate the seat and allow somebody more competent, more ready to do the job, take over."

The cause of the crash on a sunny, clear Sunday afternoon remains unclear. The crew radioed the tower that they had engine trouble shortly before the plane went down. Emergency workers have recovered both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.

It appears to be Nigeria's worst airline disaster since September 1992, when a military transport plane crashed into a swamp shortly after taking off from Lagos killing all 163 people on board.

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