A chartered helicopter meant to convey Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State to Anambra State for the burial ceremony of the wife of Senator Ben Obi, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mrs. Colette Obi was Friday grounded for what the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) described as failure to adhere to laid down regulations.
NAMA recalled the Helicopter, piloted by Captain James Manahash, to Benin, the Edo State capital after it had taken off with the governor on board. The owners of the chartered operation were accused of failing to pay aerodrome and landing fees.
Friday’s event was interpreted in many circles as pay back for Oshiomhole’s perceived role in the controversial election of a new chairman for the influential Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF).
Oshiomhole was said to have backed Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, allegedly urging his counterparts from the other states to see themselves as democrats by conducting election for the NGF chairmanship, rather than agreeing to a consensus candidate as was being pushed by those close to President Goodluck Jonathan.
NAMA’s action degenerated into a drama of sorts as the governor, who became aware of the argument between the pilot and the NAMA officials, prevailed on the pilot to come back and answer the call so as to s.
It was gathered that Oshiomhole, however, became angry for what he perceived to be attempts by The Presidency to delay him unnecessarily. Their takeoff, it was gathered, was delayed for over one hour thirty minutes even after the pilot was said to have paid the landing and aerodrome fees.
This delay, it was gathered, infuriated Oshiomhole entered his vehicle and zoomed off after complaining openly.
Speaking on the incident, Captain Manahash said: “I have been a pilot for 35 years out of which seven years in Nigeria. So I was surprised when I was recalled back to the airport after we took off. The Governor prevailed on me to come back and answer them. When we got back I was told to pay landing and aerodrome fees, which ordinarily we could pay later.
“Even after completion of the process of payment, we were still delayed for one hour fifteen minutes with the governor still seated in the aircraft. Ordinarily payment of such fees doesn’t take more then ten minutes. This is not the first time I have been flying the governor and we have never witnessed such a disappointment. It is really shocking” he stated.
However, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Prince Kaseem Afegbua, who reacted to the incident, asserted that “ I think the government of the day is competing with too many crisis and it is disturbing that governors are no longer respected, or recognized even in their own domain or when it is known that they were duly elected by the people.