The Senator representing Rivers South-East senatorial district in the National Assembly, Barry Mpigi, has berated the federal government for its condescending remarks on Rivers State government over the detaining of two pilots working for Caverton Helicopters.
Mpigi, the Deputy Senate Committee Chairman on Establishment and Public Service, described the Minister of Aviation’s reaction as “detestable of dangerous politics”, for saying that the Federal Government approved the airline’s flight into Rivers.
The lawmaker said claims of generating revenue should not be more important than the lives of Rivers people in the face of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “The Honourable Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika rose in defence of Caverton Helicopter’s flagrant disregard of the Rivers State government’s regulations on the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the State.
“The Minister reportedly queried the rights of Rivers State Government to sanction the pilots of Caverton Helicopters insisting that the Federal Government approved the flight of Caverton Helicopters to Rivers State in order to improve their revenue base due to a shortfall in global crude oil prices.
“The Minister of Aviation is not unaware of the fact that State Governments all over the country, including Rivers State have put in place stringent measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in their respective States.
“So we see the attempt by the Minister of Aviation to single out Rivers state for a contest of rights, without recourse to the State’s constitutional right to issue regulations towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic as an attempt by the federal government to sacrifice the lives and wellbeing of Rivers people on the altar of economic considerations. This is unacceptable, unfortunate, and a detestable of dangerous politics.
“The Minister is in a position to know that whereas the federal government may be right in giving approval to Carveton Helicopters to fly into Rivers State in pursuit of revenue, they also have the responsibility to protect the lives of Rivers people and those doing business in the state by considering the health implications of such approvals in the face of a raging COVID-19 pandemic.
“Why did the Minister not consider it necessary to put Rivers State Government into confidence as to their intentions in the interest of the public or is the Minister affirming the fear of Rivers people that the Federal Government values the revenues from Rivers State over and above their lives?
“It is also pertinent to remind the Minister that the same way the federal government reserves the right to approve flights for revenue purposes is the same way governor Nyesom Wike reserves the constitutional right to protect the lives of Rivers people.
“It is on record that Carveton Helicopters has the unenviable reputation of repudiating the policies and positions of the Rivers State government.
“We, therefore, see any legal and logical step of the Governor to stop their current deliberate moves aimed at endangering the lives of Rivers people as appropriate and commendable.”