Opinion: I won’t waste my time mourning Azazi and Yakowa, I have questions to ask

by Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri

The chopper went down. Souls perished. Investigations, as usual, have been ordered. Three days mourning have also been declared. And the routine blame and counter-blame games erupt among the populations, with the attendant religious, ethnic and tribal twists to a sad story. This is the story of Nigeria!

I am neither going to waste my time on needless lingoes of sympathy nor pour out mundane ‘eye service’ adulation to the departed general Owoeye Azazi and governor Patrick Yakowa as many Nigerians are wont to. Rather, I am going to vent my anger, asking the avoided questions that are begging for cogent answers. The Bayelsa helicopter crash is another eye-opener to the sordid state of governance in Nigeria; the gross abuse of public office; the flight of accountability; and the unprecedented rape of the nation’s treasury going on under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The crash incident clearly reveals the depth of the plunge abuse of public office has assumed with tacit the approval, and support of the current leadership. 

Last Saturday, a common aide to the president, Oronto Douglas, buried his father in his hometown, Okoroba community in Nembe Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. His father’s burial, a purely private activity, cost another six lives, NEEDLESSLY! For the purpose of facilitating the comfort of private guests attending a PRIVATE occasion, a naval aircraft, a public property belonging to the Nigerian Navy was impudently converted to personal use, to grease the ‘special ego” of a presidential aide and his personal visitors.  A whole navy commander of the Nigerian Navy – a senior public officer – was drafted away from the warmth of his family on a weekend, to render “kabu kabu” services to the guests of a fellow citizen using government-owned property!  While that unsung navy commander is no more, the same presidential aide who pushed him to his early grave continues to retain his portfolio, enjoying the perks of public office. If unchecked, he may still send more naval officers to their untimely graves, except his relatives magnanimously postpone their dying and funeral dates. 

Without that Bayelsa crash incident, Nigerians would never have known about the wanton exercise of official indiscretion by political appointees. That incident presented Nigerians with concrete evidence of impunity, revealing how national security apparatus and public facilities are deployed away from the scenes where they are urgently needed, to venues of private, lavish owanbes and political gatherings. That is not all. Few months ago, the Nigerian president presented a bloated budget Nigerians knew would not be implemented. Billions of Naira were as usual, allocated for the maintenance of helicopters and aircrafts in the military and naval fleet. With what we know now, budgetary allocation for the maintenance of these aircrafts and helicopters is not borne out of any patriotic or good governance considerations, but merely to ensure that they are functional enough to meet the “comfy private needs” of high-ranking public officials. 

A week before Oronto Douglas’ father’s burial, all roads led to Otueke, the home of the president for the funeral of his younger brother. We don’t need anyone to tell us that something similar happened. Helicopters of the Nigerian Navy, Airforce, military and other national security formations were ostensibly used to ferry private guests to the president’s hometown AT THE NATION’S EXPENSE! Emboldened, or rather enamored of that ludicrous indiscretion, Oronto Douglas followed suit. But this time around, the consequences were dire. 

In many quarters, the names, ‘President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’ represent unsurpassed CORRUPTION! Although nearly all pasts leaders of the country are believed to be corrupt, none of them, including the past military rulers were directly linked to an all-time-high festival of corruption, as currently witnessed in Nigeria. So beyond the traditional setting up of committees and investigatory panels, Nigerians are well aware that these steps are wholly cosmetic, bereft of any real intent to explore lasting solutions to festering national challenges. In fact, committees are not only conduit pipes for continued official wastages, but appear to be the fastest way of “killing” any issue that provokes public outrage. In Goodluck Jonathan’s “transformation theory”, a “big man” has to die before grave issues of national importance are taken seriously. Hundreds and thousands who die on pot-hole infested roads across the country on a regular basis are undeserving of his protection and crocodile tears. Only until the federal highways of death claims the life of a “big man”: a fuel subsidy thief; a PDP chieftain; a president’s aide; a governor; then the contract to repair the road would be hurriedly awarded; fake tears shed under the keen watch of clacking cameras, and stupid committees set up to investigate and offer recommendations no one needs. 

Just weeks ago, Dino Melaye, in his oft-boisterous manner, drew public attention to the poor state of roads networks in the Niger Delta region,  – especially the popular East-West Road  – and accused the former Niger Delta minister, Godsday Orubebe of corruption. Rather than look into the merits of Melaye’s claims, presidential and ministerial aides lashed out at him, calling him all sorts of unprintable names. Had FG heeded Melaye’s call, perhaps, the East-West Road would have been fixed, while the over-use of a naval helicopter which caused the Saturday deaths would have been totally unnecessary! That road, currently in a sorry state of disrepair, is the major link road to the South-South states.  The wretched condition of that road forced the “big men of Bayelsa” to resort to using choppers and helicopters, thereby dispensing a death sentence on poor citizens who commute that road daily.  According to eye witness accounts, when the news of the crash filtered in, some of the remaining guests opted to travel by road instead; the same road they refused to repair; the same road they have condemned other motorists to use at their own peril. 

There is no way an Oronto Douglas would convert the nation’s security apparatus and maritime infrastructure to personal use without the express approval from the president. That acquiescence makes the president complicit in the needless death of innocent citizens. At a time the Niger Delta waterways is ravaged by unparalleled oil theft and large-scale maritime criminality, the lead agency responsible for curbing the excesses of sea pirates and oil thievery chose that delicate period to donate its scare resources and choppers to guests of an owanbe funeral. In saner climes, the president would have tendered his resignation by now, and the so-called aide would at the very least, bow out in shame after he had tendered an unreserved apology in all national dailies. In addition, a massive shake-up in the Nigeria Navy, commensurate with the extent of absurdity displayed by its authorities would have since begun.  

Let those who want to mourn, mourn!  But this issue does not call for mourning, but deep introspection into the leadership crisis that has enveloped this country. It is a time for incongruous characters like Oronto Douglas to be eased out of government circles for gross abuse of public office. It’s a time for Niger Deltans to ask the right questions and speak the truth to its chronically erring leaders.   It is the time for heads to roll in the Nigerian Navy. It is a time for the Nigerian Navy to conduct an extensive audit of its operations, facilities and procedures. It is a time for Nigerians to demand accountability from leaders determined to drive this country to doom. It is a time for action, a time to unlock all the incredible potential of our citizens to collectively change the country.

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  • B. says:

    My brother, whoever u r, thank u 4 'talking'! I was beginning 2 think everyone had lost their memory & objectivity.

    This isnt d first person 2 talk 'tough' abt govt & really do nothing later.

    And thanx so much 4 the 'dino' point! Na YOU dey on point!

  • raymond says:

    mr king continue weeping until blood come out of your eyes,is very easy for us to sit aside and criticise but the truth is you as a person will be the worst when you enter there. by d way thank you for making me a fisher man is an honor i highly appreciate but for your information am not from south south.

  • Jag says:

    Sad waste of my 5 minutes reading this. If you can tell me that you can confirm who or what your house girl or child is doing every moment of the day then I will show you someone that does not have work to do. You think the request for approval to use a chopper will come near the president's desk? Olodo.

    Anyone that can reference or echo the words Dino as worthy IS just as much of a simpleton as Dino is.

    Azazi must have pulled his own strings to get what he wanted. The shame here is that a twit like you, the author, will blame even your stupidity of the president.

    I have also learnt that anyone that uses the expression 'we all know that' is never any more than a jobless town gossip. It is the type of talk that comes from the type of domestic staff that always 'knows' what oga is doing or should be doing

  • As long as people like Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri is still alive in this generation my mind is at rest that one day God will raise a jerry Rawlings in Nigeria to sanitize the system. I’m not surprise to read Raymond’s comment. This is one of the Judas in the midst of reasonable members of the parliament. This is one of those people Fela said suffering and smiling. I’m very sure that if the departed general Owoeye Azazi and governor Patrick Yakowa were to be reached to react they will be regretting their action all in the name of show off, power drunk more importantly when the late general Owoeye Azazi is expecting ambassadorial post, any means of actualizing this mission will be pursued with vigour. ‘Man proposes they say but God disposes’ If our politicians are not ready to respect the trust the people gave them, then God has a way of excusing them.

  • Taiwo says:

    As long as people like Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri is still alive in this generation my mind is at rest that one day God will raise a jerry Rawlings in Nigeria to sanitize the system. I'm not surprise to read Raymond's comment. This is one of the Judas in the midst of reasonable members of the parliament. This is one of those people Fela said suffering and smiling. I'm very sure that if the departed general Owoeye Azazi and governor Patrick Yakowa were to be reached to react they will be regretting their action all in the name of show off,power drunk more importantly when the late general Owoeye Azazi is expecting ambassadorial post, any means of actualizing this mission will be pursued with vigour. 'Man proposes they say but God disposes' If our politicians are not ready to respect the trust the people gave them, then God has a way of excusing them.

  • OLUMIDE says:

    Very well spoken ,sir

  • vinci says:

    I wish the writer is as patrotic as his words are. While I agree with him by 70% of his understanding of Nigeria, d unpresedented & attendent corruption that has ravaged the country & of course the deliberate posture to frustrate possible way forward, I believe even the writer wouldn't do better if given an opportunity under a climate of corrupt mindsets.

  • Engr Benson Abounu says:

    Thank u Senior Editor. U however didn't state ur name. My view on this matter is simple. That the best mourning we can accord Yakowa,Azazi,Daba et al is to takle the incongruencies in our collectve governance head-on so as to avoid a repeat of those needless deaths. Period.

  • raymond says:

    i'm disappointed with this article and more disappointed from who it is coming from a southerner, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri you a modern day judas for criticism your own.what is our problem, why do we like washing our dirty lineage in front of world.is there anything wrong with servant using his masters car to attend funeral for God sake this is nigeria property which goodluck through the help of God is the head, making everything in it his property including you writer. they use helicopter because there's no airport in bayelsa more over the helicopter conveyed them from port harcot after they landed in port harcot air port, this people are aid to mr president making all of them the ruling class and they are more than qualify to use helicopter belonging to us.and it has been happening from inception lets try and stop politics with every damn thing that happen in our country if we are thoroughly wants to move forward.the question should be what is cause of the crash not looking for every opportunity to score cheap political point,by d way don't waste your time mourning as you may be the next to die

    • Kings says:

      Raymond must have been a fisherman who has spent all his life in the creeks and has no idea of common decency or government/ civil service operation. Your comment does this administration no good at all. Someone in the Niger Delta was once charged for using government envelope to post a personal letter. The practice of converting public property to private use is called corruption. The bane of nigeria especially during this administration is that there is no distinction between the two. I weep for my country

  • Justice Abia says:

    My dear one does not need a mirror to his wrist watch. The truth is, articles like yours are not read by the people that should read them and when they do, they simply ignore them. It is only God that will save this country from PDP slavery.

  • Musa Timothy says:

    I have neva read a speech so tru and thoughtful… Wow.. Would love 2 follow u onn twitter too.. Tnx boss, u re so. Onn point

  • Uche Ene says:

    we really need to ask questions.

  • Ezekiel Yunana says:

    Thats right.

  • Freda igberaese says:

    Nigeria..our father's land full of strange n wonderful stories..

    • ola says:

      True talk.i pray,they open dere eye to c and read dis writeup and also work on it.bcuz there r still more to come to all our leaders dat r buyin private jets,spendin public funds without inputing change dat will benefit d common man on d street.kudos to u Victoria.

  • Ifeanyi Udeh says:

    True talk dear.Ride on!

  • potts says:

    So true and yes a word is enough for the wise,like d writer wrote most nigerians do not have time to mourn d death of dis so called diginataries cos everyday human lives are wasted on d roads they have refuses to repair and oronto douglas a COMMON MILITANT mtchewwww it's only in GEJ's administration dat such people are given any importance.I pray to God to continue to give d ordnary nigerian justice in whichever way God sees fit ameen

  • Ezeanochie Daberechi says:

    Nigeria, The land of the absurb.

  • Goretti says:

    I swear, I agree with this write-up so well. The only sad thing here is that these government officials would not see a piece like this and read and so most times, personal opinions of this nature have little or no effect on further decisions made. Good piece though. God save Nigeria. I only hope someone is reading and ready to take actions.

  • Yetunde Okulaja says:

    This is a master piece I must say! its a no-holds barred. it's time for us Nigerians to begin to ask questions. Enough of the lies we are daily fed with and this siddon look attitude. God bless your efforts

  • Yakubu j i says:

    The death of Yakowa and Azazi is questionable.instead of our leaders to put their head together and come out with something reasonable,they are talking of investigation,investigation that will not come out with something reasonable.what came out of dana aircraft that almost wipe all our beloved away.Nigeria is a careless country until something happen to the top officials before looking 4 the way forward,No one cares about the masses.GOD is washing.

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