By Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri
The chopper went down. Souls perished. Investigations, as usual, have been ordered. Three days mourning have also been declared. And the routine blame and counter-blame games erupt among the populations, with the attendant religious, ethnic and tribal twists to a sad story. This is the story of Nigeria!
I am neither going to waste my time on needless lingoes of sympathy nor pour out mundane ‘eye service’ adulation to the departed general Owoeye Azazi and governor Patrick Yakowa as many Nigerians are wont to. Rather, I am going to vent my anger, asking the avoided questions that are begging for cogent answers. The Bayelsa helicopter crash is another eye-opener to the sordid state of governance in Nigeria; the gross abuse of public office; the flight of accountability; and the unprecedented rape of the nation’s treasury going on under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The crash incident clearly reveals the depth of the plunge abuse of public office has assumed with tacit the approval, and support of the current leadership.
Last Saturday, a common aide to the president, Oronto Douglas, buried his father in his hometown, Okoroba community in Nembe Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. His father’s burial, a purely private activity, cost another six lives, NEEDLESSLY! For the purpose of facilitating the comfort of private guests attending a PRIVATE occasion, a naval aircraft, a public property belonging to the Nigerian Navy was impudently converted to personal use, to grease the ‘special ego” of a presidential aide and his personal visitors. A whole navy commander of the Nigerian Navy – a senior public officer – was drafted away from the warmth of his family on a weekend, to render “kabu kabu” services to the guests of a fellow citizen using government-owned property! While that unsung navy commander is no more, the same presidential aide who pushed him to his early grave continues to retain his portfolio, enjoying the perks of public office. If unchecked, he may still send more naval officers to their untimely graves, except his relatives magnanimously postpone their dying and funeral dates.
Without that Bayelsa crash incident, Nigerians would never have known about the wanton exercise of official indiscretion by political appointees. That incident presented Nigerians with concrete evidence of impunity, revealing how national security apparatus and public facilities are deployed away from the scenes where they are urgently needed, to venues of private, lavish owanbes and political gatherings. That is not all. Few months ago, the Nigerian president presented a bloated budget Nigerians knew would not be implemented. Billions of Naira were as usual, allocated for the maintenance of helicopters and aircrafts in the military and naval fleet. With what we know now, budgetary allocation for the maintenance of these aircrafts and helicopters is not borne out of any patriotic or good governance considerations, but merely to ensure that they are functional enough to meet the “comfy private needs” of high-ranking public officials.
A week before Oronto Douglas’ father’s burial, all roads led to Otueke, the home of the president for the funeral of his younger brother. We don’t need anyone to tell us that something similar happened. Helicopters of the Nigerian Navy, Airforce, military and other national security formations were ostensibly used to ferry private guests to the president’s hometown AT THE NATION’S EXPENSE! Emboldened, or rather enamored of that ludicrous indiscretion, Oronto Douglas followed suit. But this time around, the consequences were dire.
In many quarters, the names, ‘President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’ represent unsurpassed CORRUPTION! Although nearly all pasts leaders of the country are believed to be corrupt, none of them, including the past military rulers were directly linked to an all-time-high festival of corruption, as currently witnessed in Nigeria. So beyond the traditional setting up of committees and investigatory panels, Nigerians are well aware that these steps are wholly cosmetic, bereft of any real intent to explore lasting solutions to festering national challenges. In fact, committees are not only conduit pipes for continued official wastages, but appear to be the fastest way of “killing” any issue that provokes public outrage. In Goodluck Jonathan’s “transformation theory”, a “big man” has to die before grave issues of national importance are taken seriously. Hundreds and thousands who die on pot-hole infested roads across the country on a regular basis are undeserving of his protection and crocodile tears. Only until the federal highways of death claims the life of a “big man”: a fuel subsidy thief; a PDP chieftain; a president’s aide; a governor; then the contract to repair the road would be hurriedly awarded; fake tears shed under the keen watch of clacking cameras, and stupid committees set up to investigate and offer recommendations no one needs.
Just weeks ago, Dino Melaye, in his oft-boisterous manner, drew public attention to the poor state of roads networks in the Niger Delta region, – especially the popular East-West Road – and accused the former Niger Delta minister, Godsday Orubebe of corruption. Rather than look into the merits of Melaye’s claims, presidential and ministerial aides lashed out at him, calling him all sorts of unprintable names. Had FG heeded Melaye’s call, perhaps, the East-West Road would have been fixed, while the over-use of a naval helicopter which caused the Saturday deaths would have been totally unnecessary! That road, currently in a sorry state of disrepair, is the major link road to the South-South states. The wretched condition of that road forced the “big men of Bayelsa” to resort to using choppers and helicopters, thereby dispensing a death sentence on poor citizens who commute that road daily. According to eye witness accounts, when the news of the crash filtered in, some of the remaining guests opted to travel by road instead; the same road they refused to repair; the same road they have condemned other motorists to use at their own peril.
There is no way an Oronto Douglas would convert the nation’s security apparatus and maritime infrastructure to personal use without the express approval from the president. That acquiescence makes the president complicit in the needless death of innocent citizens. At a time the Niger Delta waterways is ravaged by unparalleled oil theft and large-scale maritime criminality, the lead agency responsible for curbing the excesses of sea pirates and oil thievery chose that delicate period to donate its scare resources and choppers to guests of an owanbefuneral. In saner climes, the president would have tendered his resignation by now, and the so-called aide would at the very least, bow out in shame after he had tendered an unreserved apology in all national dailies. In addition, a massive shake-up in the Nigeria Navy, commensurate with the extent of absurdity displayed by its authorities would have since begun.
Let those who want to mourn, mourn! But this issue does not call for mourning, but deep introspection into the leadership crisis that has enveloped this country. It is a time for incongruous characters like Oronto Douglas to be eased out of government circles for gross abuse of public office. It’s a time for Niger Deltans to ask the right questions and speak the truth to its chronically erring leaders. It is the time for heads to roll in the Nigerian Navy. It is a time for the Nigerian Navy to conduct an extensive audit of its operations, facilities and procedures. It is a time for Nigerians to demand accountability from leaders determined to drive this country to doom. It is a time for action, a time to unlock all the incredible potential of our citizens to collectively change the country.
Please read the rejoinder to this article by the Special Assistant to Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan on Social Media, Mr. Reno Omokri. Click here :Rejoinder by Reno Omokri
Excellent write up
This comment has been removed by the author.
The President cannot be in all the States of the Federation at the same time. The National Assembly need to carry out their over sigh function to logical conclusion and it is high time we start blaming the President for every single thing that happens. The State Governors are there to monitor projects awarded in their States, the Houses of Assembly are there to over sight projects as well as the Civil Society including the Media. If all the roads in Bayelsa State are tarred today, people like you will say the President Goodluck Jonathan has used his influence as… Read more »
The writer has not asked the president to be everywhere but he has the responsibility to also demand his team of technocrats whom he is paying heavily to perform.
The fact remains that from this unfortunate incident, it exposes just a little of how they abuse their office. Using naval helicopters for personal use. Thats worth impeachment.
Nobody is abusing their office! For your information, these helicopters are hired just as you can hire it when you need it. They are not suppose to be kept grounded for a very long time; they need to fly regularly. Do you think you can impeachment the President based on unbiased reporting? I can see ignorant running through your system. Call on me for enlightenment and you better join the Transformation Train before you regret you action of today!
Mr Kehinde,I never knew one could hire military helicopters for personal use. Infact am hearing this for the first time. And thank you very much for the info as i might probably have a birthday celebration that might warrant that very soon. They have not fixed the roads so that will be necessary to fly my guests too. I also pray the cash realised are going into the treasury.Now that the helicopter has crashed, who then do u think will be responsible for the replacement?Definitely tax payers money. Millions of naira have been budgeted for helicopter maintenance just for personal… Read more »
Nobody is begging you to mourn. You can keep your high opinion to yourself. Every dog has its day. You will also die one day.Do you know what is worse than leaders looting public funds? It is ‘pseudo’ intellectuals who pick and choose who should be the bad guys and who should not depending either on their relationships or their pay cheques. You betray your ignorance or propensity for mischief when you label Jonathan the most corrupt Nigerian leader. He is not a saint but do your homework and research and find out which leaders have stolen this country blind.… Read more »
Dear Aliu,But please let call a spade a spade. We always go back to decade of decay, the corruption has been on for a long time etc. So must President Jonathan now add his own to our problems? We already know our problems and he does not need to come add to it. When he was campaigning, he higlighted all these problems just for him to come and start solving them in his wisdom, he is busy telling us he didn’t cause them. How has past the past era justified the use of navy helicopters for personal use? did the… Read more »
Dear Oriyomi, Let us always situate our arguments. The use of military aircraft for other purposes did not start today. Remember that Abacha lost his son many years ago when a presidential jet bearing him and his friends crash. So, it did not start today. While this does not justify the practice, there is the need to be open and upfront when commenting in the public space so as not gto mislead people. WE have gotten into the habit of making wild allegations with providing a basis for those allegations. In the write up above, the writer said: “just weeks… Read more »
Mallam Shuaib we are saying the same thing, you are also condemning the misuse of public property and abuse of public office. You even reminded us that this has existed for a long time and not a new phenomenom. I am surprised you said journalists are worse than those busy looting Nigeria, please how can those exposing these evils be worse than the evil dooers.
Very interesting write up. Thought provoking!
And what exactly is the point Aliu Shuaib is making?
This is a good piece and ordinarily should get Niger-Deltans doing some soul searching but as the people i have come to know them to be from the past few years, they will just tell you “it is their son” and everyone should keep off.it really is sad that as a people they have never stood up to demand the right thing to be done even if it is one of them is the guilty party.Nigeria and tribalism!
Aliu Shuaib….you sound like a man who lives in a deluded world where nothing positive exists,if you ask me,I will say you have a point when you said that president Jonathan didn’t start the era of corruption and impunity in Nigeria. But that’s where your common sense ended. To assume that he should fold his hands and watch the nation plundered beyond redemption is a social felon by you. The mantra given to him is a great one and he has done absolutely nothing to defend he’s worth it. What we have is a world record for docility in office… Read more »
Ifeanyi, try and be civil when making your comments. If anyone lives in a deluded world, it is people like this writer who make it appear as if Nigeria is one dark world where nothing works. If you desire to know what is being done to fix this country, get off, your butt and social media and do some investigating. Don’t just sit there and ‘blow grammar’. Steps are being taken by government but because you have closed your mind to the possibility that anything good can come from government, you will not see it. It is convenient for people… Read more »
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hello Aliu Shuaib, I can understand your passion & support for Jonathan. Nevertheless, I await a reasonable truthful list from you of the things that work in Nigeria currently. Secondly, kindly mention any of the ‘big fish’ corrupt cases that have been fully closed and the culprits jailed (albeit what happened in Obasanjo’ s government). I am from the South South, besides the Benin Warri expressway which was long awarded but completed under Obasanjo’s government, Jonathan has done nothing for concrete for the region besides ‘settling’ his Edwin Clarke led foot soldiers. Perhaps, since you are in the full knowledge… Read more »
Mr. Okpako, we have caste of mind, we assumes that because someone arues in support of a particular fellow he is necessarily ‘chopping’ from him. First of all, I am not fro the north. I am from Edo State. If northern governors think the South South is wealthier, the onus is on them to prove. They also need to tell us what they have done with the income that has accrued to their states over the years. If you want to know what Jonathan has done, then read the papers. His aides have been talking only that those who have… Read more »
Aliu, as far as I’m concerned, the judiciary is under Jonathan. They succeeded in removing the President of the Appeal court because he didn’t play ball. As you know too, Ibrahim Lamorde also said there are powers frustrating his moves to prosecute big wigs. I hope you don’t feign ignorance as well, the role of the presidency in the Otedola Farouk issue, what has come of it? Is it the courts and judges too? Let’s be objective in our arguments, with valid examples. You said I should read the papers, I absolutely see nothing there hence I asked you who… Read more »
Mr aliyu, while i agree with you on the choice of words used by mr ifeanyi,i must say that is as far as our agreements go…the author made mention of his salient points…why not stop beating around the bush and tell us exactly what measures have been put in place by your so called or imaginary messiah…what exactly would you point to as a marked improvement from previous adminstrations…the fact that that corruption thrived before he came into power does not in any way justify his conscious ignorance or lets say blindness to the act….its no covered secret again that… Read more »
Mr. Rasaq, there is only one Messiah and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. Jonathan is not a messiah and never will be. That said, he is trying his best even though some people who have closed their minds to the possibility that government can do something good, will not admit it. You ask me something good he has done? I’ll tell you. He has being reforming the pension system and has saved billions of naira in the neigbourhood of N7o billion stolen annually and has deleted the names of N73,000 ghost pensioners. We may not be pensioners but those… Read more »
Mr. Okpako, Do you truly think the judiciary is under Jonathan or you are just being plain mischievous? If you truly do, then you need to read the Nigerian constitution. I do not live in Lekki. I live in Ilupeju and yes, power supply has improved in places in the country. It may not be dramatic but it is certainly happening. Why don’t you wait for Jonathan to finish his tenure and then we’ll truly see how much he spent on power or whether he left the sector worse than he met it. Let’s not be too hasty. On the… Read more »
Mr Aliyu,thats a very good point you made there but where has the money gotten from the so called ghost workers gone…i think we both know what the answer to that question is…that he saved the country a whole lot of money is no reason for celebrations, i believe we should only celebrate when we know to what cause the money is spent on..but from the little precedents we know of this rotten government,the money shoud bé floating in some big men’s pocket ready for some owanbe parties and copter rental*in your words that is* as i do not believe… Read more »
The money is still there or do you know where it has gone Mr. Rasaq? You used the word ‘should be floating in some big men’s pockets ready for some owambe parties…’, this means you do not know. It is dangerous to come to a public forum and spread falsehood. People who do not know better may believe you, go on and parrot it elsewhere and so a rumour becomes accepted as fact and then when Transparency International goes around assessing the perception of corruption in countries, Nigeria scores very high just because some people spread some rumours. Quit all… Read more »
Woah, this is more than revealing. Keep it up pls, Jah-bless
In this article we look at a few ways of getting cheap air travel tickets.
cheap flights to lagos