Former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and leader, Akwa Ibom Elders Vanguard, Sen. Anietie Okon has described the Federal Government’s defense of Caverton Helicopters flying passengers into Portharcourt, Rivers State amidst lockdown order of the state government as malicious, ill motivated and act of irresponsibility.
Caverton helicopters had in early April flown passengers into Rivers State against the border closure order by the State government
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in reaction to that, said civil aviation is in the Exclusive list of the Federal government and the State government had no powers to stop them.
He added that approvals were given to the airlines and helicopter companies to fly into Port Harcourt, in the national interest and to boost national revenue.
But Senator Okon in a statement titled, “Rivers State: Misinterpreting of Exclusivity”, said it was malicious, deceitful and dubious for the Federal Government through the Ministry of Aviation, “to authorize flights to the State without correspondence with the Rivers State Government especially this period of Statewide lock-down to curb the spread of Corona virus in the State.”
According to him, “How does the Minister intend to present a defense regarding the insubordination of the passengers and crew of the flight who refused to comply with the proactive legislations put in place by the State government in a quest to flatten the Covid-19 curve.
“Hadi Sirika’s argument that such flight had nothing to do with the State government exposes the surreptitious nature of transactions of the Federal government of Nigeria.
“Sirika’s objection to the actions of the Rivers State government is disdainful and unfortunate, it shows high handedness, and disregard which eventually leads to failure of policies and legislations hence, institutional corruption presents itself as the Achilles heel of the Nigerian Government.
“Governor Wike, the Chief Executive of Rivers State backed by Constitutional legitimacy had imposed a lockdown in view of the corona virus pandemic. With this imposition, movements under whatever guise were to be restricted or permitted by the imposing authority in the State.
“If the relevant federal agencies had reached out to the State to show compliance in view of the present situation, would it have demeaned them? If the apex shows no regard for the laws why should the citizens? If this continues would we not be threading towards anarchy?
“What would it cost the federal government to liaise by informing the State of the presence of the expatriates in Rivers instead of attempting to intimidate a tier of government, a critical component in the Federal system and a major contributor to the fiscal sustenance of the Federal government itself?
“This ugly expression of power, and assertiveness in reckless profiteering in the face of a global pandemic is endangering, shambolic, unfortunate and regrettably not in the interest of the safety of the people of Rivers State, but a clear neglection of the legitimacy of the Rivers State government, an action completely foreign to the constitutional diktat of a federal system of government.
“The Nigerian Constitution has procedures and provisions for the government and governed, and in this case there has been a glaring debasement of the constitution.”
Senator Okon added, “No one in government should be ignorant of the fact that peace and unity are necessities for Nigeria’s nationhood, thus sectoral or ethnic dominance will lead to disequilibrium.”