The Accident Investigation Bureau Nigeria (AIB-N) has metamorphosed to the National Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) following the new NSIB Act 2022 which President Muhammadu Buhari has given his assent.
With its renaming, the bureau will no longer confine itself to investigation air accidents and incidents alone. Its scope has been enlarged to include maritime, rail and road accident probes.
Also the nomenclature of the chief executive officer in AIB-N has changed from commissioner to director general, NSIB.
Recall that the NSIB chief helmsman, Mr. Akin Olateru, had in 2020 in his presentation to the senate committee on aviation made a case for the transition saying multimodal has become the future of transportation accident investigation.
He assured that the NSIB would enable the bureau to improve the safety standard of the country’s transportation network through quality investigation of accident and serious incident occurrences, timely publication of the reports and safety recommendations.
“The NSIB will determine the probable causes of accidents and serious incident occurrences in transportation and publish safety recommendations to operators, regulators and others, which would help prevent the recurring of similar occurrences, therefore, improving safety of transportation in Nigeria.
“Multimodal is widely accepted as the future of transport accident investigation and the transition has always been made from the extant air accident investigating agency.
“It has become expedient that the provision of Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act (CAA) be reviewed to establish the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) in a separate act to bring it up to speed with contemporary global best practices, to create a multimodal bureau of investigation for air, rail and maritime accidents.
“The purpose of the NSIB is to enable the is not intended for apportioning blame, but to provide technically accurate, appropriate and timely information which can be used to implement measures to prevent re occurrences and potentially mitigate the damages caused by such accidents,” he told the lawmakers.
To kick start the transition to a multimodal accident investigation body, the bureau has set up an in-house committee for the implementation of the new Act.
Olateru explained that the committee was necessary following the presidential assent to the NSIB Act, 2022.
“The new Act will further enhance safety in all modes of transportation in the country as serious incidents and accidents would be investigated and recurrence prevented,” he said.
The director general lauded the federal government for establishing the multimodal agency saying the country would be moving with global trend in ensuring safety in all transportation modes.
He also commended staff and management of the bureau for their support and sacrifices to ensure that the bill saw the light of day.
“We did it together in the interest of the country. I salute your commitment, sacrifices and determination without which we would not have achieved this,” he added.
While doing some fine-tuning to transit to multi-modal investigation agency, the Accident Investigation Bureau of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (AIB-KSA) came calling on the NSIB to sign a memorandum of understanding that would enhance aviation safety in both countries.
At the signing of the MoU which took place in Abuja recently, Olateru said the agreement would ensure cooperation and assistance in the field of civil aircraft accident and incident investigation.
He added that the cooperation agreement would also allow both parties to assist in the areas of investigation training, sharing of information and expertise consistent with the Standard and Recommended Practices of Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention.
“You have to understand that there is only one aviation in the world and the rule of the game is cooperation. There is no country that is an island. We need to work together as a team to enhance safety.
“Yes we are both established, we have equipment and human capital but there are a lot of lessons we can learn from each other. It is all about improving safety of the flying public”.
In his remarks, the director general of AIB-KSA, Mr. Abdulelah Felemban, said there will be mutual benefits from the cooperation.
“We are here in Nigeria to sign an MoU with our counterpart on an executive cooperation programme to promote aviation safety. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt from accident investigation.
“The benefit for both of us is that we get to learn from each other, exchange information and exchange knowledge with our counterpart,” he said.
The NSIB, under the previous name, AIB-N had signed international agreements with France BEA, Sao-Tome and Principe, Sierra-Leone and Benin Republic.
The Bureau also signed local agreements with the Nigerian Air Force, the University of Lagos, and the University of Ilorin, among others.
Currently, the bureau wants to have agreements with the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Meanwhile, the retired managing director of the United States’ National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) has commended NSIB for making “extraordinary” achievements since Olateru took the hot seat in 2017.
In a letter sent to Olateru, the former NTSB chief said he had been following activities in the bureau as far back as 2002 when the organsiation was a department in the ministry of aviation as accident investigation prevention bureau (AIPB).
Some of the achievements according to him included expansion and modernisation of the bureau, building structures, launch of the training centre, modernisation, compilation of a competent and professional staff and connectivity to cyberspace through a prominent website combined with the admirable use of apps and social media.
“I can confidently say that the gains and strides made by AIB-N (NSIB) under your leadership have been extraordinary, if not altogether unprecedented and consequently the organisation has become a world-class and premiere accident investigation organisation worthy of global recognition for its contribution to aviation safety and as an exemplary model of being an enterprising government agency.
“The growth, expansion and modernisation of the AIB, including the building structures, launch of the training center, modernisation, compilation of a competent and professional staff, connectivity to cyberspace through a prominent website combined with the admirable use of apps and social media along with interacting with the mainstream media have been fabulous,” Jones stated.
He described Olateru as a “visionary leader” who has used his position to distinguish himself since his appointment, stressing that he (Olateru) has placed himself in the upper echelon of luminaries in the aviation safety community and beyond.
“You undoubtedly have demonstrated the character, skill-sets, and acumen to achieve greatness, if such has not already occurred, in whatever future endeavours you choose. The Nigeria government and public have been well-served during your stellar tenure at the helm of AIB,” he added.
Expanding the operations of the agency to a multimodal bureau has been one of the cardinal programmes of Olateru since he came on board in 2017.
With that in mind, the agency under his leadership vigorously canvassed for the establishment of the NSIB that would enable it to extend its mandate to cover not only the investigation of air mishaps but also those of other modes of transportation in accordance with global standard practices.
The Bureau, from inception, has released 71 reports and 252 safety recommendations, out of which 58 reports and 194 safety recommendations were published by Olateru’s administration.
The present administration also released four safety bulletins since assumption of office in 2017.
The safety standard achieved in the aviation industry would now be replicated in other modes of transportation in the country through the NSIB.