…As Jonathan Set To Float New National Carrier
Despite the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), – led federal government to release the White Paper on the report of Justice Obiora Nwazota’s seven member panel of Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the management of Nigeria Airways, where billions of dollars of graft cases were uncovered, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is now set to float a new national carrier. The decision to have a new national carrier is now said to have divided the top brass in the presidency and also pitched some top notches of the ruling party in battle. Some die-hard loyalists of the president who are urging him to run for another term in 2015, are said to have argued that the white paper on the outcome of Justice Nwazota panel must be released and gazette, and, those found guilty tried and punished under the law accordingly. This group maintained that failure to do so, the administration will outrightly give the populace the final conviction that it is corrupt. On another hand, the second group argued that it will be suicidal to release and gazzete the white paper, on the premise that it will further dent the image of the party and also makes it to lose throngs of party faithful who are indicted in the report. CELEBGLITZ investigations revealed that 90 percent of those asked to refund various sums of money and equally banned from holding public office for the roles they played in destroying Nigeria Airways Limited, are members of PDP, the self acclaimed largest party in Africa. In the report submitted by Justice Nwazota panel on May 8, 2002, having worked for 12 months and accepted by the government, seven former Managing Directors were indicted and four recommended for prosecution. Also, 10 were banned from holding public office for 10 years, while one was banned for life. Two former ministers, including a one-time Chief of Naval staff were also asked to refund various sums of money and equally banned from holding public office for 10 years. These ministers, former managing directors and others were indicted for over-invoicing, questionable payments, faulty and unilateral executive decisions, including the sale of Nigeria Airways house in London, for half of its value amongst other evil acts. On the list of those declared unfit to hold public office are the former chairman of Fidelity Bank, Chef Adebiyi Olafioye and Executive director, Yemi Omowunmi. Others are Captain Mohammed Joji, Admiral Patrick Koshoni, Retd Comodore Bernard Banfa, AVM Anthony Okpere, AVM Yisa Doko, Retd Major-Gen Olu Bajowa, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, Rtd Group Capt Peter Gana, Capt Allwell-Brown and others. Captain Mohammed Joji, a former MD of NAL, who was recommended for prosecution, was said to have misappropiated the sum of $12million paid to NAL as royalty by Swiss Air. Joji, who is now the Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON), was asked to refund the sum of $9.8million which he paid to Siberia as commission, but had no proof of payment. He was also to refund to the coffers of government the cost of D check on the B737 Aircraft, which was carried out by NAL in Nigeria, but which he paid for in Brazil. Joji, who is the chairman of Skypower Express Airways and chieftain of Arewa Consultative Forum, (ACF), along with Mr. Afam Nwagbosu were asked to refund the sum of $2.230.357million being discount on premium to NAL. Former Naval boss, Patrick Koshoni and retd Air Comodore Bernard Banfa were asked to refund the sum of $17.625million in respect of two Boeing 737 aircraft sold when they were minister of Transport and Aviation and MD of Nigeria Airways Limited(NAL) respectively. The duo are also to refund $3.525million being the cost of A310 aircraft not bought. Major-Gen(retd) Olu Bajowa, who was once sole administrator of NAL, was asked along with former minister of youth, sports and culture, who is equally a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, to refund $6.3million being losses to NAL occassioned by their unilateral termination of CES Travel Contract Agreemen with the national carrier. General Bajowa was also asked to refund $4.35 million which was deposited for the botched purchase of MD 14 and ATR Aircrafts, which deposit was never recovered. Another former MD, Alhaji Jani Ibrahim, who is now the chairman of Lubicon Group was asked to refund over $13million which arose from sundry deals and wrong decisions. Alhaji Mohammed Kari, Mr. J. Abulime, Engr. Andrew Agom (a PDP chieftain who died when the convoy of ex-Gov. George Akume was attacked along Makurdi-Abuja road few years back) Mr. Nwagbosu, Alexander Howden Aviation, Fidelity Bank, Nicon PLC are to be held responsible, jointly and severally for the sum of $13.935million which NICON PLC paid into the account of Alexander Services Ltd at Barclays Bank in Jersey Channel Island. They are also to face prosecution. Even, the likes of the Air Chief, Abdullahi Bello, Mr. Pascal Dozie, Alhaji Isiaku Umar, Otunba Tunji Adesoye and others, who served as members of the presidential task force for NAL, were also asked to refund various sums of money. Before the government could issue a white paper on the report, some of those indicted by the panel had gone to court and obtained injunctions to stop the white paper from being released. And, instead of going to court to vacate the injunctions, ex-president Obasanjo, who boasted that he left 39 aircrafts with NAL in 1979, and met two aircraft when he came back to power in 1999, liquidated the national carrier and sold it to Virgin Nigeria, which was later bought by Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, who re-christened it Air Nigeria, which is now comatose. Also, the properties of NAL in London, Rome, New York, Freetown( Sierra Leone) Malabo(Equitorial Guinea), Dakar in Senegal and over 40 houses in Ikeja GRA, Lagos, were sold at ridiculous prices. Also, after over one decade of liquidation, the staff of the defunct carrier are dying in droves, while still waiting for their pensions and gratuities. Now President Jonathan is discreetly working assiduously to set up another national carrier without looking into the failure and previous shortcomings of Nigeria Airways.