There is a sense in which people like Captain Dan Omale, a self-appointed gadfly of Nigerian Aviation do not give up, even when it is apparent they are on a wrong trajectory.
Sadly, if only Omale had applied such doggedness to his business, he would have been more successful. Omale recently wrote a barrage of wild and unfounded allegations against the leadership of the Ministry of Aviation and in particular, the ex-minister, Princess Stella Oduah. In it, Omale, an aircraft operator insinuated that the latter was still â€˜manipulatingâ€™ things ,even after her exit. I took the trouble to write a reaction which debunked all his wild allegations in that article titled â€™Oduahâ€™s Invisible Hands Still at Work in Aviation ?â€™.
But rather than accept the glaring facts and reality canvassed in my rejoinder, Omale has written a rejoinder to my rejoinder, in which he simply resorted to attacking my person, instead of tackling my points.
For someone who claims to be passionate about aviation, Omale spent the first three paragraphs of his so-called rejoinder attacking my person, rather than address the issues at stake, which I raised in my earlier response. He wrote: â€œAfter his failure to pursue a meaningful political career in his home state of Plateau, he gained respite with a job in FAAN.â€
This is very interesting. I am not the issue here. But suffice it to say that, by the grace of God, between 1999 and 2007, I served as elected Local Government Chairman, Special Assistant to the Governor, Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Commissioner for Information all of Plateau State. I was also Special Adviser to the Hon Minister of State for Commerce and Industry… I can go on and on. So, the failure here is only in the befuddled mind of Omale.
Another allegation which shows the confused mind of Omale is his claim thatâ€ In just three years as the Minister of Aviation, Oduah, in search of a puppet, changed three different directors-general of the agency â€” unprecedented anywhere else in the world. With such a high turnover of the heads of the NCAA, instability in the system becomes inevitable. And it is now showing.â€
Now a quick look at that statement shows that it is false. Dr Harold Demuren was Director-General of the NCAA until 2012.Ms Oduah met him in that position and he continued in that office until 2012 when his statutory final year tenure ended. No substantive Director-General of NCAA was appointed until early last yearâ€”2013, when Captain Fola Akinkuotu was appointed Director-General of NCAA by Mr. President.
So, where are the three directors-general that were changed by Oduah. As a matter of fact, Captain Akinkoutu, the second DG, was only recently removed after Oduah herself had left the ministry.
Unlike Omaleâ€™s false accusations and malfeasance, the charges that I made against Omale in my rejoinder remain unanswered and I am going to restate them here. One, Omale operates a chartered airline service without a valid Air Operatorâ€™s Certificate (AOC). Omale should tell the world the number and year of issuance of this licence, if he has one.
And since I work for the Ministry of Aviation, I can easily verify if such an AOC exists or is fake. I can say ,categorically, that to the best of my knowledge as a ranking officer under the countryâ€™s Ministry of Aviation, Omaleâ€™s charter air service does not have a valid licence.
One can understand Omaleâ€™s frustration. Since the requirements for a valid AOC were raised three years ago under Oduahâ€™s stewardship, Omale has not been able to meet the stringent standards set by the NCAA for such licences. In his anger and frustration, he keeps on raving that Oduahâ€™s loyalists are â€˜getting licencesâ€™ without providing proof of such.
Everyone knows that aviation is not an industry you just gate-crash into, because of its capital-intensive nature and stringent safety and security requirement. So, even if you are a so-called â€˜loyalistâ€™, and you do not have substantive capital base, you cannot make headway in the aviation industry.
Moreover, records show that in the past three years, not more than five local companies were issued new AOCs. So, where did Omale get his idea that Oduah â€˜loyalistsâ€™, as he called them, were being issued AOCs indiscriminately. The Aviation industry here is a small one, such that the players know one another. So, Omale should name these people so that we can know who they are.
Then, Omale, wants to lecture us about what it takes to be re-certified by the US Aviation Federation for Category One. Very interesting! It is people like Omale who will not only wish but also work underground to ensure that Nigeria fails Category One recertification to justify their false accusation but they will fail because this administration has done enough in the industry to merit recertification by FAA.
Not only do the various aviation agencies â€“ FAAN,NCAA,NAMAâ€”among others, have a surfeit of highly trained and experienced aviation professionals, the ministry can also hire both local and international experts, if it needs to, in order to achieve its target goals. Therefore, Omaleâ€™s crying more than the bereaved over the countryâ€™s Category One recertification is that of a self-serving and fake aviation stakeholder. These are just crocodile tears.
Indeed, the directive of the aviation ministry under Oduah that all foreign registered aircraft operating in the countryâ€™s airspace should re-register with the NCAA was another devastating blow to Omaleâ€™s dwindling business.
Omale also claimed: â€˜Oduah was always flying our aircraft before and after she became the minister of aviation.â€™ As someone who worked closely with the ex-minister, I am not aware of any occasion, on which the ex-minister took Omaleâ€™s air kabu kabu. As a serious-minded ministry, everything done officially by the minister is documented, except the ex-minister took the risk of flying with Omale in her private capacity.
Letâ€™s hear another of the unfounded allegations: â€˜The former minister of aviation received more money than the past four ministers of aviation combined. In the name of airport remodeling and aviation road map, she milked the system dry.â€™ She received more money than four past aviation ministers! Pray, who were those who received the N16.5 billion Aviation Intervention Fund which the Olusegun Obasanjo administration gave to the Aviation ministry?
They were Princess Oduahâ€™s predecessors in office, some of who are yet facing fraud charges over this whopping fund meant to rebuild the industry. Thus, it is crystal clear who got more money.
â€“ Dati, the coordinating spokesperson, aviation parastatals writes from Lagos.