Nigeria’s Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Paul Botwev Orhii and some ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Wednesday escaped an air disaster that would have thrown the entire nation into another round of mourning.
The DG of NAFDAC and some ministers boarded an undisclosed Lagos-bound aircraft in Abuja, when at the point of departure the pilot suddenly announced that there were some technical hitches that would prevent take-off. The officials of the undisclosed aviation company provided another aircraft which could not take off at departure time due technical problems.
The top government officials were forced to contact the embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Odua, who then ordered that another aircraft be provided for them. However, at the point of departure, for the third time, the pilot told the already exhausted government officials that the technical snags on the third aircraft were worse than those of the previous two inoperative aircraft.
The NAFDAC DG Paul Orhii told this mind-boggling story himself on Wednesday at an interactive session between him and operators of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) at the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce ad Industry(LCCI) Conference and Exhibition Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. However, he did not disclose who the operators were, neither did he divulge the names of the ministers on board.
The DG told the story while explaining to stakeholders in commerce and industry, the reason for his late arrival at the session. The event was expected to begin at 10.30 am but BusinessDay checks showed the DG arrived at the venue few minutes before 1 pm.
‘’Please I want to start by apologising for being late. It is not in the character of NAFDAC to come late to events. What happened was that our first flight was about to take-off but the pilot suddenly announced that there was a slight problem.
‘’We boarded another aircraft. The door was closed and we were about to take-off. But the pilot also said there was a problem with the flight. I was with some ministers.
We disembarked but they said they were bringing another aircraft, but we asked them not to bother.
‘’Incidentally I called the Minister of Aviation who now asked them to provide another aircraft for us. But the door of the third aircraft was closed and our seat belts were already fastened when the pilot said the problem in that one was worse than the problems of the other two,’’ narrated Paul Orhii.
This story reinforces the worries of stakeholders and Nigerians that the country’s aviation sector needs total overhaul.