by Raymond Alfred
Sunday Tribune, Sunday 8th March. 2009
I read with great interest an article entitled: “Fani-Kayode deserves a breather” in Sunday Tribune, 22 Febuary, 2009, written by Captain Daniel Omale, the Technical Consultant to the Senate Committee on Aviation that probed the N19.5 billion Intervention Fund. It was a master piece and the writer must be commended for coming out with such audacious salient points on issues relating to the present persecution of Fani-Kayode. Any one that has been following the trend, the arrest and detention of this young politician would notice that the powers that be just want to humiliate him and ruin his political career for no just cause.
Initially, I was thinking that the orchestrated Senate report on the aviation fund would come up with a damning financial indictment on the former minister, but one was shocked to read instead, that the committee in its wisdom had recommended a-five-year ban on him from holding political office, while those asked to refund certain amount of money were not banned. I personally pity Fani-Kayode for now being the victim of the system he fought to stabilize by protecting his erstwhile boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.His current travail, is an obvious political persecution. He was accused of established interference and employment of his kinsmen that brought the monthly bill of FAAN to N700million, this sounds ridiculous as it suggests that the former minister must have employed more than 2000 workers of that parastatal.The committee, however, failed to tell the nation, what was the wage bill of the said Agency before the recruitment for discerning Nigerians to appreciate the gravity of the minister’s offence.
He was obviously not indicted on the looting of the fund and one is equally shocked that the Senate committee was silent on the reported balance of N7.5billion left in the account during Fani-Kayode’s tenure.
One may begin to wonder from where these political ballistic missiles are coming from? Captain Omale’s piece has confirmed insinuations that an influential Senator from the same state with the former minister is behind his travail because of 2011 gubernatorial race. This ambitious senator, is a member of the committee. What the Senator should understand is that, promotion does not come from man, but from God. No matter the level of the diabolical plots to dislodge Femi from any political race at the national and state level, if God is ready to move in his favour, no man can stop him when the set time comes. No doubt, Femi is a tough guy and when he speaks his enemies take flight.
I believe that the former minister brought in professionals to reposition the industry and foreign airlines would not forget in a jiffy what Femi did to them on the need for quality service for Nigerians on the international routes.
The former minister may have been in the bad record of the political class because of his antecedent as the former President’s spokesman, but like Captain Omale rightly postulated, we need to forgive him and appreciate the sterling quality of his contribution to the stability of the aviation industry within six months in office.
One would recall the review of certificate of air worthiness of aircraft and assessment of financial status of airlines operating in Nigeria during his tenure. These measures were geared towards safety, comfort and security of air travellers in Nigeria. His tenure also witnessed the historic audit of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which rates Nigeria 93% in the same league of Canada and Australia. The Civil Aviation Autonomy Bill was passed and signed by the president shortly after resuming office and this gave the NCAA power to enforce law on the operators in the sector. Some obsolete equipment were replaced and this gave relief to the operators.
The budget allocation to the Ministry during his tenure was N21.7b from a paltry sum of N5b received in 2006.Bellview Airline secured direct link with Britain, while efforts are on to get more. Direct link has been secured between china and Nigeria as efforts are on for the direct air link between Nigeria and Greece, including Nigeria and Northern and Southern American countries. The Minister facilitated the successful re-negotiation of the UK-Nigeria bilateral air service agreement.