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Presidency reacts to Zamfara ex-governor, FAAN face-off

By Idowu Abdullahi,

The Presidency has reacted to the face-off involving the immediate past Governor of Zamfara, Abdulaziz Yari, and the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) over alleged unworthy conduct of the former at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport last Saturday.

The Management of  FAAN had, through its social media page on Wednesday, condemned Yari, for unworthy public display and allegedly assaulting an official at the Kano airport. 

As claimed, the former governor allegedly assaulted the officer last weekend after violating protocol put in place to mitigate spread of coronavirus at the Airport after domestic flight resumption across the country.

But Yari who, in his defense on Thursday, faulted claims by the management FAAN that he assaulted airport official, described FAAN’s claim as odious and distasteful and demanded a retraction of the accusation with an immediate public apology.

He said contrary to the account given by FAAN on the encounter, he adhered to all safety protocols as outlined by the Federal Government, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), airport management, and never assaulted any official when he passed through the Kano airport.

However, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, while reacting to the face-off, regretted that despite repeated warnings on the need to adhere to all safety guidelines, some politically exposed persons were still found wanting.

Speaking during the taskforce briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Mustapha, who is also the Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, described the incident as unfortunate and appealed to politicians and important dignitaries to respect laid down protocols at the airports.

He called for behavior change from the leaders and those being led in augmenting the apex government’s fight against the deadly respiratory disease across the country.

“You will all recall that the Aviation sector reopened domestic operations on 8th July, 2020. Dry runs were carried out and guidelines meant to protect all travelers were issued. You also recall that we identified and pleaded even before now, with certain classes of persons, particularly VIPs, to desist from flouting such guidelines.

“Unfortunately, we have received reports about violations by some dignitaries who failed to follow the protocols at our airports. We believe leaders must lead by example.

“In truth, as leaders and followers, we must change our behavior if we must overcome the pandemic. This virus does not discriminate by status, age, tribe, creed, or color. All we require is diligent compliance and vigilance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has taken a swipe at the former governor for allegedly assaulting an environmental officer enforcing the COVID-19 protocol at the airport.

The organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, through a statement by CACOL’s  Coordinator, Administration, and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, condemned the attitude of Yari for flouting protocol put in place to curb the spread of the dreaded virus at the nation’s airports.

“His action is reckless and height of irresponsibility. By his action, he has portrayed himself as an enemy of the state going by the enormity of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the country. One would have expected a supposed ‘Very Important Personality’ to support and abide by all directives and protocols laid down to stem the tide of this pandemic.

“It is lamentable that a man of his status would make nonsense of a well thought out arrangement and protocol aimed at curtailing the spread of the dreaded virus. His attitude shows that many of our past and present public office holders see themselves as superman and demigods that should always be revered, adored, and worshipped wherever they are.

“Against this unfortunate aberration, we, therefore, call on Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to put mechanism in place that would prevent reoccurrence of this unfortunate incidence and spell out sanctions that would be meted out to anyone who violates the COVID 19 protocols so as to serve as deterrent to others while calling on the former governor to publicly apologize for his action,” the statement read.

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