From Suleiman ldris, Lagos
The gale of cooperations between the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and fellow African countries seeking partnership with the agency in areas of capacity building and sharing of information has received another boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents of Benin Republic.
Meanwhile, the AIB has disclosed that talks are at advance level to sign other MoU with neigbouring Niger Republic, Sao Tome and others in few months time.
The MoU, leaders of both team said is to enable the West African countries partner in the area of accident investigation, capacity building and information sharing and enhance the standards of air accident investigation in the sub-region.
The deal covers areas of cooperation, capacity and human development, exchange of information and assistance.
The parties struck the deal on the sideline of a workshop put together by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), for Africa countries in Abuja.
Leader of the Nigeria team and AIB Commissioner/CEO, Mr Akin Olateru, affirmed that the partnership would assist both countries’ accident investigation agencies fulfil their international obligations in accident investigation.
According to him, they would assist each other in the event of an accident in any of the countries by combining their resources and expertise to conduct the investigation.
Olateru said “All these today between Republic of Benin and Nigeria is to help us both to fulfil our obligations with regards to ICAO convention on accident investigation.
“The synergy will go a long way to enhance capacity of our investigators because they will be working with each other to investigate accidents in any of the countries”.
He explained that “ It is about capacity building at the end of the day; if you look at it because the more you practice the more you learn in accident investigation practices because there are no two same accidents and it takes years to fully train an accident investigator.
“This for us, is to enhance our capability and boost our expertise in terms of accident investigation and as at today, Nigeria is the leader in terms of accident investigation in Africa” he said.
His Benineose counterpart and Head of Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents, Benin Republic, Mr. Bongo Paul expressed joy over the agreement.
He said negotiations for the partnership had been onging for six months.
Paul said it was significant to have entered into the partnership with a next door neighbouring country in addition to the ones with European countries.
According to him, the idea was to enable Benin to fulfil its obligations in the area of accident investigation through capacity building.