Posted by: zebbook | July 2, 2012

Our Ministries, Our Misery – by Nicholas Osagiede

Our Ministries, Our Misery – by Nicholas Osagiede

ImageI’d skip intros to hit the nail on the head. Our Aviation Ministry since 2005 has been a joke! It’s been the same, just like old wine in new kegs, different toilets, and same poo-poo.

The concept of recycling is to make trash anew but the same recycling concept is clearly not in play in our system of governance.  We practice the garbage in, garbage out system. The awkwardness of our polity has made us believe resigning is a crime and admission of failure a cowardly act. It has made us believe a graduate regardless of his/her educational specification can work anywhere in the government. It has made us embrace the idea of putting square pegs in round holes as a means of getting the job done. Without disrespect, some ministries are totally needless and unimportant to begin with as most perform the same or almost similar functions and scrapping some off seems the logical thing to do. There are even professional bodies that could within themselves, recommend suitable people for Ministerial posts. In a situation where a Graduate of Political Science or related social sciences discipline, is made a minister for works and housing or where an Engineer or a graduate of related discipline, is made the Minister for Finance, simply means moving our nation forward is close to impossible!

Some ministries can stand on their own regardless of the qualification of the leader, but with parastatals that involve Health, Safety and Security, Professionals, Tested and qualified candidates are necessary. (4give my digressing, it’s just like the current Spain squad at the EURO 2012, playing most games with a “fake” Striker, everyone can see that they are not at their best.)

 The Aviation Ministry has been a portfolio of “patch-patch”, a position given to unqualified government-of-the-day loyalists to compensate them. It has been a ministry of go-try-your-luck. It has been one in which most of the Ministers that are clueless, corrupt and unconcerned people with a license and mandate to loot! Without disputing peoples talents, a special skill or talent honed in accordance with professional discipline simply make such person stand out. A person with a talent in music, who goes on to study music would most definitely stand out amongst his/her peers. So, why can’t we tow this line?

Without mincing words, our Aviation Ministerial appointments have always been an accident waiting to happen! Like onlookers in a zoological laboratory, unsure of their safety but awed by the presence of a new specie, the ministry has been the most rubbished in the country. Let’s go back to the year 2005, the year of the ‘FREEFALLS’ under the Leadership of Prof Babalola Borishade. Some months before Christmas in 2005, a Bellview aircraft, a boeing 737, crashed and obliterated the lives of all its occupants on board .we witnessed for the very first time carnage as over 117 persons were dead without body parts gathered to make even a single body ! . Yeah, excavations works started on the site of the crash 3 weeks after and of course, the Airline was grounded, some people lost jobs but bot the Aviation minister he went ahead to give a speech , saying no plane would ever crash again. Till today, the Blackbox for the plane is nowhere to be found, the cause of the crash, unknown. Investigations were initiated to know the cause of the crash but like our usual Nigerian way, it was simply hushed up. Case closed. The Minister wasn’t sacked, nor did he resign. Barely a month after, another crash happened, A Sosoliso Airlines DC-9 crashed in port Harcourt killing all 103 on board including more than 60 secondary school students traveling home  for xmas. An ADC Airlines flight 53 in October 2006 crashed again. It was another Boeing 737 aircraft and over 104 people, lost their lives.  The causes of these crashes are still sketchy and unknown; an investigation as usual was initiated with the outcome as usual, unknown. All this happened within the space of 2months in the same year under the same leader. No resignation by the minister who was occupying his 3rd Ministerial office. After pressure was piled on the then President Obasanjo, Borishade still wasn’t sacked. He was simply “recycled” to another ministry.

Let’s look at our aviation ministers from 2005 till date. Babalola Borishade, earned a B.Sc in Electronics. He, before being the Minister for Aviation had served as Minister of Education, AND Minister of Power and steel. Femi fani kayode is an established lawyer; He was minster for culture and tourism before he swapped positions with Borishade.  Fidelia Njeze, was Minister of State Agriculture and Water Resources and later, the Minister for Defense. She is a Pharmacist.  Felix Hyatt, you all know the story. The incumbent, Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi is an Msc holder in Accounting and Business administration.  Babatunde Omotoba was a structural Engineer. Now, can you send a carpenter to do a Doctor’s job?   Can we send an accountant to build a bridge? Can you make an Engineer the Minister of Justice?  Professionalism, is one thing, academic qualifications is another.  No one was born with experience in leadership; it was garnered on the job. So why must we recycle dead brains from ministry to ministry when we have younger, fresher and energetic ones to do a better job at an even cheaper cost?  We have professional bodies in almost every course available in the country, why can’t they be solicited the way the NBA is solicited before appointing a chief Judge?

Appointments are based on party loyalty and sentiments, the lives of millions are always at risk because of an ill-advised and clueless leader. Better, experienced and qualified Nigerians, driven with passion for the job are not considered, only those who have been beneficial to the government of the day end up being chosen. In 2009 ALONE, WE HAD 3 AVAITION MINISTERS, 3 unqualified people! Femi Fani-Kayode claims there is a blood sucking cult responsible for all these airline crashes. He should have said that when he was Minister for Aviation. He was indicted in a 19.5 billion naira Aviation Intervention Fund misappropriation claims during his tenure with his predecessor, Babalola Borishade. The incumbent Stella Oduah has already been fingered in another corruption scam, why won’t we have this when they have absolutely no idea of the portfolio they are handling? When Bababtunde Omotoba took over, one could see the changes in the ministry. He brought structural engineering experience to the foray and it work because he studied and practiced something related to the ministry he was handling.

The problems we are facing in the country have been about leadership. That same problem has been the reason our airspace isn’t safe. It has been the reason why safety standards and measures are not adhered to.  It has been the reason why we continue having crashes and plane related accidents. It has been the reason why the aviation ministry has never fully blossomed. I mean, the best airport in the country is the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos! Incredulous! That airport is a ghost of its former self and its design is outdated.  Planes have crashed and we haven’t a clue as to what happened, albeit guess. How on earth can we avert another?  How can we make progress? Is it when cows are seen strolling on our runways? Is it when our watchtowers are unresponsive? Is it when there are no lights?

Dana crashed and bang, they were put out of business. Who are we deceiving? We also know that Dana ain’t the only aircrafts with maintenance and old age issues… a routine check of all the commercial airplanes by the Ministry isn’t a bad idea at all but what do we get? All the planes in Dana’s assembly would simply be bought over by another company, and BAAM, a new airline is born, registered and granted operational license with the same “dead” planes! They are newly painted with stunning insignia’s of the companies, to also hide their rustiness and lack of maintenance. So, in reality, the same “economically disempowered” planes are thrown right back into circulation. No inspections, even the ones that happen are closely followed with ‘egunje’. You and I know that most of the aircrafts that ply our airways are flying coffins, outdated and poorly maintained. Most are just like the Ministers themselves, an accident waiting to happen.

It’s Stella Oduah’s turn to “try her luck” and already, Dana has put her on the frontline for worst Aviation Minister ever! As usual, we will never see her resign, no sir, for someone with something to offer to take her place. Instead, she and her boss would come on air and shed crocodile tears for the victims of the crash and then go right back to their same ineptitude. Some would say the times of the people that lost their lives due to the plane crashes have come. However, some people catalyzed their deaths starting with the maintenance officers who had the responsibility of declaring the plane fit to fly down to the Management of the aircraft who are only after profits and nothing else, the Aviation minister who could have rejected the appointment into a ministry she had no idea about and of course our ‘Aso Rockers’ under whose leadership Nigeria has decayed.

We have said so much, we have cried, we have cursed, we have lost and we have buried…In the words of Antony Jay, “ You can judge a leader by the size of problem he tackles, other people can cope with the waves but it’s his job to watch the tide”. May GOD guide our paths.


Nicholas Osagiede

Follow @nykelodeon on twitter



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