Monday, 4 June 2012

Is our Minister the Princess still on that Seat?

The early parts of 3/06/2012 was a unique sunday for me. I had just come back home from a glorious sermon by Pastor Poju Oyemade and had gotten something extra-ordinarily empowering from him in revelation which still gladdens my heart. However, passing out after lunch and waking up somewhat around 7pm to engage on Twitter, my mind went furious!

153 people are believed to have lost their lives yesterday on the Dana Airways flight en-route Abuja to Lagos. From stories of those going to weddings of their loved ones to those reuniting with daughters for birthdays, nothing short of bitterness could fill my heart. People's lives taken all because of what? Two things- Doomsday and the lack in efficiency to uphold public requisite regulations and standards. Its even more saddening when you know this doomsday could have been avoided but yet more ironically, enabled by the pedigree of consistent substandard processes from the Ministry of Aviation and its corrupt driven partnering stakeholders.

During Chief Olusegun Obasanjo's regime, Nigeria lost about 450 people over 5 airplane crashes under the then Minister of Aviation, Prof. Babalola Aborishade. We lost Army Generals, Civil Servants, Lawyers, Pastors, Fathers, Wives, Mothers, Husbands et al during that period. It took Chief Obasanjo 5  airplane crashes to succumb to pressure and realise that Prof. Aborishade was inept and relieved him of his position. He was replaced by Femi-Fani Kayode (A man I have reservations about but a topic for discussion another day). 5 years on, the sequence in tragedies of Chief Obasanjo's regime are about to begin. I ask as I bleed these words, is Princess Stella Oodua still the Minister of Aviation? Its very shameful such a thing can happen under one's tenure and yet public office holders in Nigeria do not see the integrity and honour in resigning. Not to take cue from her Boss- Goodluck Jonathan, but to stand on what she ethically deems and believes correct! I had always perceived her to be a woman of sound public office ethics...Am I wrong?

Sometime ago, a passenger train derailed in the United Kingdom; even before investigation began, the Transport Secretary went live on Television and Radio announcing her resignation. It was glaring she had failed in his duties, the most important thing he is employed to avert had happened. There are certain positions in public office you shouldnt rely on second chance to prove capabilities. You prove it each day by playing your role effectively and efficiently like its the last day on the job. When you slip or come short of expectation, you bow out gracefully. More especially, such roles are pertinent with human lives. 

A typical example; every medicine student in University would let you know the way they are graded during continuous assessments and examinations are in no way less than any other course! I had a doctor friend in University who had to be dropped from her graduating class and not given a second chance in test or exams because she had a 69 percent score during final exams that year. No exaggerations, 69 percent! A 70 percent score for Medicine students at University was recorded as a Pass so, she had failed. On other courses, 69 percent is one mark away from Distinction. This is because they were being trained to almost determine the continued existence of people's lives. Physicians especially surgeons are like semi-gods. One mistake from them and a life is gone.....gone, gone, gone. So without a doubt, its highly necessary in confirming continuously their competence in duties expected of them. So also should be the case and issue of an Aviation Minister; you deal with lives! If you can not guarantee, uphold, maintain or in a covenant, assure strict ministry processes, consistent regulations and measures to flight standards, un-porous airline systems, competent managerial staff and above all, safe flights, you have no business in such seat!

Why would you or your subordinates allow a plane which had repeatedly been advised faulty convey 153 passengers? Men who had children, wives who had husbands and teenagers who had dreams all perished because of a careless, risk and corrupt driven system with flawed checks and balances. If the system was not corrupt and porous, Indian expatriates who claim to be the managerial backbone would have no guts whatsoever to convey their passengers in such a dysfunctional state. They would have heeded to consistent caution been cried out of the 22 year old plane's problems weeks ago. But who knows, maybe these Indian expats and various chiefs of departments in aviation have enough procedural waivers and agreements together. They know Nigeria is a country with weak standards where things are largely transactional. VALUE is thrown out of the window in Nigeria and often replaced with an incomparable phenomenon- COST. 

I have always mentioned at social gatherings and for a fact that my personal interactions with foreigners who work in Nigeria has always revealed to me one very sad but important thing; our saggy and permissible structures in society, especially when having to do with government policies is so obvious to foreigners that it gives motivation for business or work relocation to Nigeria and births corrupt results. A large percentage do not come here for the love of tourism or to be part enablers of a hopeful economy, but to partake and exploit on that which is not strict or reduced to a barest minimum as opposed to their own countries. To expats, Nigeria is seen as a "Swamp of Dollars" and in claiming to do business with us, does business with us in our contextual fashion, further accelerating what cripples us from a functional and effective system.

Princess Stella Ooodua should resign. Her record shouldn't be smudged with this tragedy. Just recently, her ministry celebrated 60 months of free air-tragedies. Her reputation and competence is being tainted if she chooses to remain on that seat despite the nation going into national mourning due to her department's flawed system. A respectable and admirable public office holder would do the right thing and resign even before investigations take place. Is she still on that seat?

Jide Alara

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