The choices that we make today will always bear witness to our weaknesses tomorrow (Frank Matobo)
It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
e have not heard the last of the mess going on in the aviation sector. As we are coming to terms with the bullet-proof vehicles scandal rocking the sector; and as many are asking how and why the minister of aviation took the vehicles from a department under her control, then, citizen.com reported that there has been plans in the pipeline to make Aero Contractors airline the Nigeria’s national carrier.
The Citizen, with the caption “Aero Contractors to emerge National Carrier” wrote, few days ago, that “As the Ministry of Aviation proceeds with plans to set up a national carrier that would operate international, regional and domestic services, it has emerged that Aero Contractors has been designated the nation’s flag carrier. It was gathered that the decision to designate Aero Contractors as the national carrier was supposed to have been announced during the October 1 national broadcast to mark Nigeria’s Independence by President Goodluck Jonathan, but it was deferred for another date.
As a national carrier, Aero Contractors is expected to enjoy preferential rights or privileges accorded by the federal government for international operations. It would hold some lucrative routes in monopoly, negotiate commercial agreements, pools and bilateral agreements with foreign airlines, articulate manpower training for the sector and serve as diplomatic tool for Nigeria. Designating Aero Contractors as the national carrier would also allow the airline to code share with other international airlines, as this would improve Nigeria’s ability to take advantage of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) it has in place with other countries.
Aero Contractors, it was further gathered, was selected for the role because of the 60 percent stake the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), a federal government institution, already holds in the airline. Under the arrangement, the federal government shall retain 60 percent through AMCON, while Legacy Holdings, a company owned by the Ibru family, will hold 40 percent in the national carrier”.
Somebody may ask: What’s wrong with that? Just wait to get the whole gist and why Nigerians should feel mortified by the news.
Aero contractors was owned entirely by the Ibru Family until the federal government seized some of the assets bought by Ms. Cecilia Ibru with the money stolen from Oceanic bank; so the 60 percent stake the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) holds in the airline is part of the funds recovered from Ms. Ibru upon conviction. There shouldn’t have been a problem here, only that the head of the company is no other person than Ms. Cecilia Ibru. Imagine her (Ms. Ibru) still managing some of the assets/funds recovered from her. Remember this mother of all scandals, Mrs. Ibru, who despite the N196 billion Oceanic Bank plunder, only received six-month prison term, which she has completed, and is now the boss at Aero Contractors, an airline priorly owned, wholly, by the Ibru family. This was a person who deceived everybody by claiming to be a woman of achievement, when in actual fact; she was just a thief with distinction. Even the United Nations appointed her to one of its boards, before her scandal was blown wide open, not knowing that the woman was everything the United Nations abhors. As the Managing Director of Oceanic Bank PLC, she committed the mother of all lootings ever in the private sector. She stole her bank inside out, thereby divesting shareholders, investors and the bank’s customers of the money they had in the bank.
Due to the corrupt judicial system obtainable in Nigeria, coupled with the lackadaisical way the war against corruption is being fought in Nigeria, the woman received only six-month jail sentence, which she served in an expensive hospital, as she claimed “too sick” upon conviction. When her jail term elapsed, she was rehabilitated by her family by appointing her the head of Aero Contractors. Has Ms. Ibru suffered enough, has she repented? Can the words of Dr Phil that “When you do something that you really think is stupid, bad decision, irresponsible and it just happens and you suffer it, then that's penalty. But if you learn from it, it becomes tuition” be meaningful and useful to her?
This was what this column wrote when Ms. Ibru was convicted: “few days ago, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, the former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank PLC, was given a six month jail term, and she will forfeit over N191 billion Naira in assets and cash. Lawyers in the country have described the conviction and sentencing of Mrs. Cecelia Ibru, for abuse of office and financial irregularities, as a slap on the wrist, inadequate to deter highly-placed, but corrupt-minded officials from aspiring for public office. The ‘light sentence,’ they also argued, suggested that there were two sets of laws for Nigerians- one for the rich and the other for the poor. Ibru, who was initially arraigned on a 25-count charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was jailed for 18 months on a three-count charge, based on plea bargaining which saw the alleged offences reduced to three. She is to spend only six months in prison, as the sentences are to run concurrently, in addition to forfeiting N191 billion. However, the former bank chief may not see the inside of the prison walls, as she was ordered back to the hospital, where she is said to be receiving treatment over ill-health. This woman disappointed so many of us. How can she be so greedy to embezzle such amount when many families are walloping in poverty? This is why crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping are now national pastimes. The former Edo State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion, got less than 3 months for stealing over 3 billion Naira, and now, this grand mother of corruption, Ms Ibru, got only six months, while an Abuja magistrate's court, few weeks ago, sentenced Ibuke Amenike to six months in prison for stealing three pairs of shoes worth N21,000. That’s also the case in Sharia states, where a man steals food because of hunger and loses a hand or limb, but, the governors, who instituted the Sharia laws, stole billions of naira and are walking free. Where’s the justice? Oh God, please don’t allow these injustices to hold”.
Now, Nigeria is on the verge of designating Aero Contractors as the national airline, and this writer thinks that’s wrong and a bad choice, just as a saying goes that “when you say that everything happens for a reason, and a lot of times that reason is you making bad decision. Don’t blame your stupidity on fate. It is a choice”. The federal government will pump capital into the business, and it’s most likely that Ms. Ibru will retain her position, if not as the MD, may be a comfortable position at the company’s pinnacle. The minister of aviation said, some months ago, that the new national carrier would be a partnership between the federal government and private companies. That makes no difference. The Oceanic Bank, Ms. Ibru plundered, was also a private company, and she had no qualms buying private jets, houses and property all over the world, for herself, with the bank’s money. She may not have scruples doing that again, if given the chance to continue managing Aero contractors as the national airline, because, she may not have learned from her blunder, just as Adar Burks said “See the most important rule in this world to remember is when somebody tells you that they have changed. Never believe it, because people don't change. They just make a conscious decision not to repeat the same stupid choices they've made in the past. But for some, that decision is never made, all they do is a lie. An in time, have no choice but to show their true colors, because, even a good actor can't keep up his part forever...”
This column had a premonition of what’s about to happen; in that this writer, wrote this excerpt below in his article captioned: "PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN AND HIS RETINUE OF ADVISERS/AIDES: NOT A WAY TO MISLEAD A NATION (CONCLUDED)" published by this website on Friday, March 15, 2013:
“The problem for this writer here is that two of the eight persons, Deprieiye Alamieyeseigha and Shettima Bulama, deserved no pardon due to the fact that they embezzled, looted, stole (call it anything) the money entrusted to their care. A thief deserves no pardon as what the president did has set a dangerous precedent, in that other criminals will feel that they can still steal the people’s money, and, even if convicted, may be pardoned by a desperate president or the one from their own ethnic zone. May be, one day, Nigerians would wake up to hear that James Ibori, another former governor of an oil producing state, who was convicted in London of embezzling 50 million pounds last year and got a 13-year prison term, has been pardoned. Nobody should also be surprised if one day Ms. Ibru, the former Oceanic Bank MD, who embezzled about N190 billion, is pardoned”.
Now, making Ms. Cecilia Ibru’s Aero Contractors the national carrier is tantamount to granting her presidential pardon!
To be concluded!
Ms. Ibru received many awards, because, she deceived many into believing she was an economic guru and a role model. Even the United Nations was deceived, by her deceitful mien, into appointing her as a board member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The Guardian of March 17, 2009, wrote that the “Managing Director and Chief Executive of Oceanic Bank International Plc, Dr. Cecilia Ibru, has been appointed to the board of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative, chaired by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The appointment was conveyed to her in a letter signed by the UN Secretary-General, who expressed confidence in her ability to make her wealth of experience to bear in the task of strengthening and guiding the UNGC office. Ki-Moon said Ibru would be joining other leaders from business, labour and civil society to serve as a champion of UNGC and its mission. “It is with great pleasure that I appoint you as a member of the United Nations Global Compact Board,” the letter read. According to the letter, the board is a corner stone of the initiative’s governance framework, helping to shape its strategy and policy. It is also saddled with the responsibility of providing strategic and policy advice for the initiative and to make key recommendations to the UNGC office. She is one of the two Africans on the board from the business community, the second African being the Chairman of Deloitte, Ms Ntombifuthi Mtoba, from South Africa.
Reacting to her appointment, the Oceanic Bank CEO expressed her appreciation to the UN for finding in her a worthy contributor to the world peace and particularly the UN Secretary General for the confidence reposed in her as justified by her nomination and eventual appointment. She said: “I am delighted about this appointment as it will enable me share ideas and push such concept to build humanity.” She said with her appointment to the world body, the voice of Africa would be heard louder as she would work with her colleagues to deliver on the mandate entrusted into the board members.
UNGC, created in 2006, is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. With the creation of UNGC, business, as a primary agent driving globalization, could help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies worldwide. Structured as a public-private initiative, the UNGC offers a leadership platform, endorsed by chief executive officers and a unique strategic platform for participants to advance their commitments to sustainability and corporate citizenship.
ireports-ng.com wrote “?196 billion Oceanic Bank plunder - the Story Continues”:
It is no longer news that the convicted former Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Bank PLC, Mrs Cecilia Ibru, has completed her six months prison term. What is however new as exclusively uncovered by ireports-ng.com is that the rogue banker is now starting a new life at Aero Contractors, an airline wholly owned by the Ibru family. Mrs Ibru was convicted of bank and securities fraud on October 8, 2010 by a former chief judge of the federal high court, Justice Dan Abutu, in Lagos, after she was arrested, detained and arraigned in court on a 25 count charge by the Farida Waziri-led EFCC. Beside her plea bargain induced conviction, Cecilia forfeited over N190 billion assets to the government. The forfeited assets are now being managed by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON.
While her bank, Oceanic Bank PLC, where the Ibrus have the controlling shares, has been sold to Ecobank PLC, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) last December (2011) banned her from the banking profession by striking out her name, Cecilia Ibru, who was until then a Honorary Fellow of the Institute, from its register of members as provided by Section.16 of CIBN Act. According to the CIBN, the development is in furtherance, maintenance and observance of ethical standards and professionalism among practitioners of the banking profession in Nigeria. According to the CIBN, the decision to bar Ibru was taken in line with the CIBN’s Disciplinary Tribunal on Monday, December 12, 2011, which was confirmed by the Governing Council of the Institute, at its meeting of Tuesday, December 13, 2011. The Disciplinary Tribunal, comprising eminent members of the banking profession with a retired Justice of the Supreme Court as an Assessor, in a unanimous decision, granted the CIBN’s request that: the name of Cecilia Ibru be struck out of the list of members of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (as provided by S 14(2) of CIBN Act), and that Cecilia Ibru should cease from being a member of the banking profession (as provided by S. 22(1) of CIBN Act).
Faced with total ostracism from her banking constituency, Cecilia who was said to have completed her jail sentence last March 2011, has no option but to step into the family airline business, where she presently controls the affairs of the 51 years old Aero Contractors airline. A competent source in the airline who confirmed the development to ireports-ng.com said “madam has since last year resumed here in our local airport office, and is the ultimate or final approving authority as we speak.” Responding to another question, the top Aero official added that “madam does not really come everyday because of health issues and to avoid being seen frequently by passengers, but more often than not she spends quality time in the office two or three times a week.”
According to the information provided by the airline “Aero Contractors of Nigeria was formed in 1959 as a wholly owned by Schreiner Airways B.V of the Netherlands. It became a company with initially 40% Nigerian holding in 1973 and subsequently 60% in 1976.
“In January 2004, Schreiner Airways was bought by Canadian Helicopter Corporation (CHC) who acquired 40% holding of Aero contractors, while 60% majority share remained within the Ibru family group. Currently, Aero is wholly owned by the Ibru family. The Company started in the early 1960's as an air charter operator. From this humble beginning in the 1970's. Aero has gone-on to provide both rotary and fixed wing services to all the major oil, gas and related support companies working in Nigeria and in West Africa sub-region. The airline which commenced scheduled commercial operation in 2000 currently operates passenger services with the Bombardier Dash8 Q300 aircraft (a modern 50-seat pressurized turboprop aircraft) and the Boeing 737-400 and 500 variants with 104 to 144 seats.”
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!