NAMA Temporarily Grounds Governor Amaechi Plane In Akure
SAN FRANCISCO, April 26, (THEWILL) – A Rivers State Government’s private plane carrying state Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi was not cleared for take off for over an hour by the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) at the Akure International Airport, Ondo State.
Ameachi flew into the airport Friday at about 4.pm from where he was transported to Ekiti State to attend the funeral of the deceased Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Mrs. Funmilayo Olayinka.
However, on his return to the airport, the control tower refused to clear his plane for take off for over an hour and no one was willing to explain the reason to the governor, which made him even more furious, one of the governor’s aides said.
The aircraft eventually took off at about 7.30pm.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, whose plane was also at the airport witnessed the drama.
Many political watchers viewed the delay as part of the Presidency’s intimidating plot to harass the very outspoken governor.
But reacting to the incident, the General Manager of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Mohammed Datti, told Channels TV that the delay was because the pilot did not file documentation with the control tower. The pilot did not file a manifest showing the passengers onboard the plane.
Datti said usually before a pilot lands, data is sent to the control tower which will also be used to certify the plane for take off.
He added that politics had no part in the delay.
Also reacting, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Aviation on Media, Mr. Joe Obi, told local newspaper, The Nation that the aircraft was not grounded as being insinuated.
“What happened was not supposed to be an issue at all. As part of new aviation regulations, any aircraft taking off is supposed to make its manifest available to the aviation authorities for the purpose of record keeping.
“We have had incidents in the past where it was difficult to know the people on board a particular aircraft. The rule now is that you must present the manifest before you take off, whether it is a private or commercial aircraft.
“So, in Akure, they demanded for the manifest of the aircraft carrying Governor Rotimi Amaechi, and in the typical Nigerian system or attitude, they started asking why they must make the manifest available.
“At the time this thing happened, they had not even asked for start up. That is, they had not got in touch with the Control Tower for take- off.
“When the manifest was produced, the aircraft was cleared accordingly. We could not have delayed or grounded the aircraft, having noticed that there is no heavy lighting at Akure Airport for night traffic.
“We did not have issues. It was just normal operational procedure,” the spokesman said.
THEWILL recalls that Amaechi and the Presidency have been at loggerheads over various political matters with the 2015 Presidential race at the top of the burner even though the Governor has maintained that there is no quarrel between himself and President Goodluck Jonathan.
President Jonathan is believed to be seriously considering seeking reelection while Ameachi has been rumoured to be a potential Vice Presidential candidate to one of the governors from the north seeking the office of President in 2015.