Monday 11 March 2013

Op Ed: Recent Appointments made by Aviation Minister better than before

By Bitrus Ogba

When the people of the south west allege that they were marginalized by the appointment of the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah I get amused. And when I hear that the appointment she made was dominated by people from the south east I get bewildered.

If you check it you will discover that Oduah’s appointments were the most balanced in the industry since 1999 because it gave full representation to every part of the country. But I know why the south west is surprisingly crying marginalization. In the past they used to dominate every appointment made in the industry. And even now, if you get the list of all the workers in all the aviation parastatals, you will find out that they have the highest number of appointments.

They are alleging ethnic cleansing because other parts of the country have been given opportunity.

What I have come to know about Nigeria is that when you enjoy an unjustifiable advantage, you would want it to continue and when there is any effort to address the injustice, those benefitting will start shouting because they see it as a right to cheat others.

For example, I was privileged to access some documents in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria when Richard Aisuebeogun was the Managing Director of the Authority. These documents revealed that the former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani Kayode employed about 30 persons in FAAN. 16 of them were made assistant general managers, deputy general managers and general managers, while the rest were absorbed in other ranks.

These people did not have any aviation experience before they were employed. In fact, most of them came from local government councils and others were just thugs. These 30 people came from Osun and Ogun states. When many of them were examined medically prior to their employment, they failed medical tests; yet they were still absorbed. Many of them are still there till now.

That is the way he deployed about the same number of people to the other aviation agencies. Now, I cannot recall any group from other parts of Nigeria crying ethnic cleansing. I cannot recall the unions raising hell about it. I also know that there were efforts to reduce staff in FAAN at that time because of over bloated manpower, as the Authority lacked technical personnel but had very high number of administrative personnel because unprofessional people were dumped in the Authority.

I remember that all the efforts made to reduce that number failed because some powerful people were contacted to kill that move. And so the agency lives with that burden till today. The question is why were no outcry about marginalization and ethnic cleansing then?

To me, it was because the people that over the years have seen it as a right to dominate other people made the appointments. They did not even consider federal character; they did not even consider getting few people from other parts of the country; yet there was no deafening outcry. Today, Princess Oduah employed Nigerians into the parastastals, taking cognizance of the federal character and some people are crying wolf.

I need to be contradicted, but I am sure that most of those who are crying ethnic cleansing and marginalization have not seen the actual number of people employment and where they came from. Somebody just threw allegation into the air and it automatically transmuted into a fact; nobody cares to verify because the objective is to run some people down.

Some people, especially some journalists who are campaigning against the appointment had argued that two wrongs does not make a right; that because somebody did  it in the past does not mean that somebody should do it again. I wish this argument and logic started at least six years ago. That is why I said I am amused when I read this in the papers.

I think the earlier we realized that every Nigerian has a stake in this country and has equal opportunity in this country the better we hoped to sustain the future of our dear nation. Those who think they will continue to lord it over others should think again and realize that Nigeria was not created for them alone; it was created for all Nigerians.

Campaign of calumny can never submerge the truth; it can only heat up the political system and facts always stand out at the end of the day. And it is even surprising that the people of south west are the ones crying ethnic cleansing and marginalization. I remember some years back when they were mocking a region well known for the word, marginalization and accusing them of whipping up self-pity sentiments. Isn’t it surprising that the words ethnic cleansing and marginalization are not, after all, a monopoly of some other ethnic groups.

(Bitrus Ogba was the Former Manager Administration of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria)


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