The federal government has sacked four heads of agencies and colleges in Nigeria’s aviation industry and announced immediate replacements for them.
The Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Emma Anasi; the Director General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, Anthony Anuforom; the Rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, NCAT, Zaria, Samuel Caulcrick; and the Commissioner of Accident Investigation Bureau; were all shown the exit, according to a statement on Monday by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari.
Fola Akinkuotu has been named the new Managing Director of NAMA; Sani Mashi will head NiMet as Director-General; Abdulsalam Mohammed is the new Rector of NCAT, Zaria; and Akinola Olateru will serve as commissioner of the Accident Investigation Bureau.
Of the new appointments, the most controversial is that of Mr. Akinkuotu. He has been involved with many airlines in the country including IRS, Arik and most recently Aero Contractors where he was appointed CEO in March 2016. However he is infamously remembered for his brief stint as the Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority of Nigeria.
It was during Akinkuotu’s tenure as DG of NCAA that the #StellaGate scandal involving Nigeria’s former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, broke out.
Nigerians were shocked when details emerged that the NCAA purchased two bulletproof BMW cars for Oduah’s use for N255 million. The purchase breached the law because the NCAA failed to get consent from the Bureau of Public Prcurement (BPP) and purchased good worth over N100 million without obtaining clearance from the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Also, the NCAA purchased the cars even though that item was removed from the agency’s budget during its 2013 budget defence/presentation at the House of Representatives.
To be fair, the procurement process was concluded under Mr. Joyce Nkemakolam (the former acting DG) before Akinkuotu took office. But Akinkuotu saw the purchase to a conclusion and gave a vehement defence of the minister and the acquisition at an October 2013 press conference. He said the purchase followed due process and vowed to arrest and prosecute the staff who leaked the information to the press.
Five months after that, Akinkuotu was sacked by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
A lot has happened since then. Stella Oduah is now a distinguished senator in the national assembly. She’s now best friends with one of the most prominent ‘activists’ who accused her of corruption at the time and used the case as a stepping stone for his own political career. His name is Dino Melaye.
Akinkuotu also moved on with his life, becoming the CEO of troubled Aero Contractors, from where this government has now tapped him to head NAMA.