It’s another Monday and the beginning of another working week in Nigeria and most parts of the world. Last week, the media was abuzz with a potpourri of news stories ranging from the mundane and regular, to the bizarre and outright controversial. While the past week is gone with its many troubles, its difficult to jump into a new week without taking stock of what was and what should have been?
Governor Godwin Obaseki and the printing of N60 billion
First, let’s take you to Edo State, the seat of the Omo N’Oba, Oba Ewuare, the revered Oba of the Benin kingdom, where everything sacred is treated as sacred. You only dare at your own peril and many can attest to this.
Some 10 years ago, Godwin Obaseki was just another name in the large pantheon of self-motivated corporate men and women seeking for relevance in Nigeria. He was not relatively unknown, but he was not a force to recon with in the political landscape of Edo State and Nigeria. That was then. Ten years on, Godwin Obaseki is now a force in Edo State as the substantive Executive Governor – with or without a godfather.
After many battles for his political life, the soul of Edo politics and the continuation of his tenure, which was almost truncated by the Comrade Governor and former Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole, Obaseki is now treading sure-footedly even in places some dare not walk.
Last Wednesday, the Governor stirred the hornet’s nest with an unequivocal statement that Nigeria is on the brink of bankruptcy. i.e., that the country will soon go broke since it is now appears to be a new convert into the habit of printing money (about N60 billion) to share out to states as Federal allocation for the month of March. Reminds you of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe? Yes, exactly.
Expectedly, the media latched unto the story an gave it the needed push to gain enough currency to either extract a rebuttal (if it was a Freudian slip that many politicians have come to be associated with in Nigeria) or force the presidency to react. Alas, almost a week down the line, it is pin drop silence from Aso Rock. Suddenly, it seems like “Otunba” Femi Adesina and Alhaji Garba Shehu have gone to sleep. But Nigerian have not gone to sleep, they are worried and asking: Is Nigeria on the brink of economic collapse? Is Aso Rock now a printing press for the printing of new Naira notes for the sake of survival because revenue from oil is going into extinction? Sometimes, silence is anything but golden. President Muhammadu Buhari, please say something. Nigerians want you to soro soke Sir!
Missing NAF Alfa Jet475
On Wednesday, 31 March, a fighter Jet (475) deployed by the Nigerian Airforce to Borno State, in the troubled North-eastern zone of the country, on a mission to support ground troops in the fight against the rising wave of insurgency (also read, terrorism), was declared missing. According to a statement by Air Commodore Edward Gabwhet, spokesperson for the Nigeria Airforce (NAF), the Jet lost contact with radar in the evening, with the two Pilots on board missing.
Later, NAF issued another statement confirming the identities of the two missing Pilots as Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele. This led to suspense and heightened expectation from families, loved ones and the entire nation concerning the fate of the two Pilots.
Another update: The NAF said it had deployed a Search and Rescue team comprising NAF Surveillance aircrafts, Special forces and the Nigerian Army to unravel the mystery behind the missing Jet with a promise to revert to the nation with relevant update. the prospects looked promising for a quick resolution of the mystery behind the missing Jet. But, for the next few days, it was graveyard silence as the nation waited with bathed breaths for comforting news (official, that is) from the authorities.
While the nation waited for update from the authorities, some non-state actors provided some updates of their own. On Friday 2, April, some vigilant Nigerians woke up to some disturbing footage/images which suddenly surfaced on the internet showing what was purported to be debris from the missing Jet475 as supported by claims from a factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, that the Alfa Jet475 was shot down.
One of the images as reported by RovingNaija showed what looked like a wreckage of the missing Jet with the clear NAF 474 tag still visible. Another showed what looked like a ball of fire descending from the sky while a third showed another picture claiming to be the remains of the missing Pilots. This new development, however discomforting, further raised the stakes and increased the anxiety of families of the two missing Pilots
In a swift reaction, the claim by the Boko Haram factional leader was immediately shut down by the NAF in another statement wherein it said that the site of the missing Jet had being located (by the Force) in Barma, Borno State. It further said that the body of one of the pilots, Flight Lieutenant Chapele Ebiakpo, was recovered intact while that of Lieutenant John Abolarinwa was still missing. The presidency also kicked some days later (Tuesday 6) in a lengthy statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who condemned some “unpatriotic Nigerian” for celebrating and gloating over the missing Jet(?) And since then, nothing.
Many are worried that almost two weeks after the announcement of the missing Jet and a week after the NAF said it has found the site of the missing Jet (in Barma, Borno State) and recovered the body of Flight Lieutenant Chapele Ebiakpo, not an update from the NAF or the Presidency on the fate of the second Pilot, Lieutenant John Abolarinwa. The question is: What happened and why is there silence from those who should speak? Nigerians need some update on this all important subject and the family of one of the missing Pilots needs to have some closure on this sad mission.
RovingNaija is of the view that whatever happened, it will help in the confidence building between citizens, their trusted institutions and elected representatives, if the authorities come clean on this one. It wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg…or, would it?