Posted by By Charles Ozoemena, Kenneth Ehigator & Chinyere Amalu on
THE Federal Government, yesterday, sent on an indefinite leave, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. Tom Oyelade, on account of Saturday’s air crash in Port Harcourt. Also in the same boat is the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, Mr. Esai Dangabar.
Let's grieve but let's grieve like those who have Jesus Christ —OBASANJO
ABUJA— THE Federal Government, yesterday, sent on an indefinite leave, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. Tom Oyelade, on account of Saturday’s air crash in Port Harcourt. Also in the same boat is the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, Mr. Esai Dangabar.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, accompanied by his Education minister, Dr Chinwe Obaji, and other top government officials yesterday visited Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja to commiserate with the authorities of the school on the death of about 70 of the institution’s students in the crash, while the management of Sosoliso Airlines commenced the process of insurance compensation to relations of the crash victims.
President Obasanjo was said to be pained by the spate of accidents in Nigeria’s aviation sector, hence his call for a critical assessment of institutional and human capacity deficiencies in the sector as a prelude to urgent reforms in the industry.
His spokesperson, Mrs Oluremi Oyo, confirming Mr Oyelade’s suspension asked him to hand over his duties to the most senior director in the ministry. The President is scheduled to meet with stakeholders in the aviation sector today at the State House on the reforms in the sector.
Those summoned to the meeting are: The Minister of Aviation; Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation; Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation; Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Aviation; Deputy Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Aviation; Managing Director, FAAN; Director-General, NCAA; Director-General, NAMA; Director-General, NIMET; Representative of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS); Representative of the Inspector-General of Police; Director-General, NEMA; Director of Search & Rescue, NEMA; Commander, Presidential Air Fleet; Representatives of All Airline Owners and Operators in the country; Representatives of the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers; Representatives of the Association of Aviation Professionals; Representatives of the Airline Operators of Nigeria; Representatives of the Board of Airline Operators; Representatives of the Aviation Roundtable (ART); Representatives of the Nigerian Aviation Fire and Safety Association; Representatives of the Nigerian Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI); Representatives of the Joint Aviation Professional Coalition (JAPCO); Representatives of Aviation Consultants; former CEOs of Aviation agencies and parastatals; Representatives of Aviation Sector Labour Unions; Representatives of Airline Support Services and Cabin Crew; Representatives of the Nigerian media, particularly Aviation.
Obasanjo visits Loyola Jesuit College
Meanwhile, President Obasanjo yesterday visited the Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja to commiserate with the management and staff on the death of about 70 students in the ill-fated Sosoliso aircraft that crashed in Port Harcourt Airport.
President Obasanjo accompanied by the Education Minister, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, and other top government functionaries lamented the air crashes in the country in the last two months.
He said: “Within a space of less than two months, we have had monumental air crashes. One in Lagos, one in Kaduna and the third in Port Harcourt. Some people might be partly superstitious or see it in another way, but I would not want to think that way because anything that happens is because God allows it to happen.”
According to the president, these innocent children whom their parents are equipping for the future roles and the service of God have been snatched away prematurely by death, but as believers and children of God, we have to accept our fate and console ourselves that they are in the bosom of the Lord. “Let’s grief but let’s grief like those who have hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He directed that flags be flown at half-mast for the next three days in honour of the deceased. He also signed a condolence register opened at the school chapel, along other dignitaries.
The Catholic Arch bishop of Abuja, the Most Reverend John Onaiyekan, who received the president and his entourage on behalf of school principal who was on his way to Port Harcourt to condole the parents of those children said up till now, the exact number of children on board the aircraft was yet to be ascertained.
According to him, the school planned to celebrate a special mass for the repose of the departed students and for the soul of a senior Reverend Father who was on the flight.
Also speaking, Minister of Education, Mrs. Obaji attributed the crash to the decay in the educational system, which she described as “garbage in garbage out,” stating: “What is happening in the aviation sector is as a result of all forms of corruption in the education sector, ranging from examination malpractices, certificate forgery and lack of dedication to academic pursuit as well as preference to buy certificates rather than obtaining it through merit.
“This has been the driving force of her ministry in the pursuit for post-JAMB screening to ensure only those qualified and ready to learn actually get into the university,” she said.
Mrs. Obaji described the air crash as a big loss not only to Nigerians, parents and relations of the deceased but to her personally, having lost two cousins in the crash. She said the nation had lost not only a lot of children, but very intelligent and gifted children. “This is because this Loyola Jesuit College is one of the best in the country and it is not where anybody can gain admission without being extra brainy.”
Among the dignitaries that accompanied President Obasanjo to the college were: Aviation Minister, Prof. Babalola Borishade and Special Assistant to the President, Prof. Jerry Gana.
Management of Sosoliso Airlines has begun the process of insurance compensation to families of victims of the airline’s flight 1145 which crashed at Port Harcourt International Airport killing 107 passengers.
Although Chairman of the airline, Mr. Victor Ikuemesi, who briefed the press yesterday did not disclose the amount due each victim, it would not be different from what the law stipulates.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Law states that on account of an air crash, each victim of the crash would be entitled to $100,000. What this means is that Sosoliso Airlines would pay out a total $10.7 million to the families of the victims.
Mr. Ikuemesi said the airline’s insurers, NICON, had commenced the process of claims for the victims’ families, adding that a register had also been opened for families to document their dossiers to facilitate verification and payment of claims.
He said the airline had plans to make initial payment of insurance claims to the families as was the case with Bellview Airlines, but refused to disclose how much each victim family would be paid.
Bellview did not only promise to pay the families initial $10,000 to assuage their pains, but had actually in the words of the Managing Director, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, started paying families that had been able to get through with documentation.
Ikuemesi said the airline had also been working with the Rivers State Government, Port Harcourt and Abuja Dioceses of the Catholic Church on the preservation of bodies of victims of the crash which involved a DC-9 aircraft.
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