Opinion: Last flight to Port-Harcourt: Did Yakowa and co deserve to die?

by Ayobami Oyalowo

Until there is openness and transparency in our government, rumours, innuendoes and hearsays, will forever reign supreme.

In writing this piece, I am well aware that investigations into the air mishap that claimed the lives of Kaduna State Governor, Yakowa and Former National Security Adviser, Azazi (and four others), over the weekend, are ongoing. This piece is not an attempt to jump the gun. I am also aware that conspiracy theories have been swirling around since the disaster. Let’s get this out of the way quickly since you asked: I am not one to dismiss conspiracy theories with a wave of the hand, especially since I have Nigerian blood flowing in my veins.

First it was disbelief, then shock. Shock gave way to anger and fury as footages of the wreckage in the creeks of Bayelsa emerged into the public domain . Why again? We have succeeded in wasting more lives as we are wont to. Yes the blood lust is never satiated. Nigeria has now become a killing field where blood must constantly flow, even when it is avoidable and unnecessary. Yes it was unnecessary and you will discover as you read further.

Oronto Douglas, an ordinary presidential aide, with no benefit to common Nigerians was burying his father. Therefore Naval Choppers must be converted into ‘kabukabu’ for the benefit of the ‘big man’ and his guest.

We are a sick country!

You might want to ask what the military has got to do with the burial of a common Nigerian–a bloody civilian, if you may. How does that float anyone’s boat? Well you are wrong. The deceased was not a common Nigerian. He was the father of Oronto, the loquacious aide of the king of Otuoke, whom we erroneously refer to as the president of Nigeria.

Late last October, with this writer in attendance, the anti corruption network, led by Dino Melaye called the nation’s attention to the rot in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, in a televised press conference. We questioned the role of Setraco, especially it’s non performance, on the East-West road. But instead of the government of Mr. Jonathan to look into our claims and hold Orubebe to account, he removed the minister of state in that ministry – presumably for divulging information. This is what you get when the government is made up of corrupt and irresponsible individuals, bent on running a government as if it were a “boys” social club. If that road were in good condition, the Naval choppers would not have been used as “kabukabu” to ferry the fortunate thieves in power.

I am not inhumane neither am I a sadist, but time has come to shed all emotional toga and ask the right questions. Why are the rulers of Nigeria so blind and deaf to realities? Instead of fixing the roads, they fly private jets and choppers, presumably to safeguard themselves, while the blood of the common man continually paints the death traps called trunk “A” roads.

It saddened me when I read the account of what happened in the home of Navy Lt Adeyemi Sowole, the 32 year old man whose wife is presently carrying a nine month old baby. Until these thieving’ polithivians’ (politicians) are called to question, I doubt if there is one single Nigerian family that wont have a sad tale to tell. His mother was already in a hospital before his untimely death. I fear to think what will happen to the old woman and his young wife.

Here are a few posers: who gave the authorization for a military aircraft to be used to chauffeur polithivians as if it was a common taxi cab? In fact there were unconfirmed reports that Timi Dakolo, an ordinary musician, was billed to be in that aircraft if not for his good fortune. If there was no accident, Nigerians may never have known the extent of abuse and show of power that goes on in the presidency. A military chopper is a public property that ought to be used only for military purposes, emergency or other public good. Was the burial of Pa Oronto of any economic, social or human benefit to the Nigerian public?

The president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that he must have granted the approval for security machinery to be used in such banal and irresponsible manner. That acquiescence makes the president complicit in the needless death of innocent citizens. Yes he is complicit and culpable because there is no way he can claim not to have a foreknowledge that the Nigerian Naval Helicopter has been commandeered to private and irresponsible usage.

‘Bellanaija’ reported:

“A senior naval officer told Punch that the helicopter was on its 15th trip for the day when the accident occurred. The aircraft had been shuttling between Okoroba and Port Harcourt, carrying guests to and from the venue of the burial of the father of President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide, Oronto Douglas, in Okoroba.

“The helicopter was made available for the use of guests at the funeral. One thing I can say is that it was going on its 15th trip when it crashed. I cannot say whether this could affect the performance of the helicopter,” the naval source said. The source also said that investigators would also look into the possibility that the aircraft had been “overstretched” for the day.”

The above scenario may or may not be factual, but can we ever be sure to know what the truth is? It was also reported that the chopper caught fire before it crashed. But I guess we would never know the true position of things. Experience has shown that the result of past investigations had either been shrouded in mystery, controversy or outright misinformation. Until there is openness and transparency in our government, rumours, innuendoes and hearsays, will forever reign supreme. Same opaqueness in public circles is why nobody knows the whereabouts or state of health of Governors Liyel Imoke, Sullivan Chime and Danbaba “the flying” Suntai.

While our prayers are with the families of the bereaved, we must not allow the government to befuddle us with mourning, while we forget to hold them to account. We must demand answers as to what exactly transpired. Why will characters like Oronto and his ilk choose which military carrier to fly in? He should be ashamed and the blood of the slain must be on his conscience for being the immediate cause of their deaths by his thoughtless and illegal use of paraphernalia of office to prove his “arrival” and importance to whosoever it was, he was trying to impress.

Finally, I call on government to rise from their docile irresponsibility. They have refused to attend to the basics of governance. The Yuletide is here. Nigerians will be on the roads traveling all over for the festivities. But it is clear that the government doesn’t give a damn. If they did, the president will not be buying another jet and two more choppers, rather than fixing the death traps we presently call roads.

Danbaba Suntai, of Taraba is a victim of his own medicine. He reportedly built a private airstrip so he could fly over his people, while other citizens continue to perish on the roads his government has refused to fix. Just last week, we lost another promising young man on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Countless unnamed Nigerians are daily dying or maimed on our roads,while Akwa Ibom and Rivers State governors purchase jets at will.

And you call this a country?!

Let the truth be told, if the roads aren’t safe for us, even the air will be contaminated for you. A word is enough for the wise. As you lay your bed, so shall you sleep on it.

Get thee behind me, Satans in power!


Ayobami Oyalowo tweets from @ayourb


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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