How Nigerian Ambassador Fainted When Our Plane Lost Engine Mid-air – Ex-governor


A former military governor of Bauchi State, General Chris Garuba (retired) has narrated how he narrowly escaped death in a near-plane crash during a flight from Angola.

Garuba, who was appointed in 1993 as a force commander to the United Nations in Angola, in an interview with Daily Trust, said a Nigerian ambassador on board the airline fainted when he was informed that the plane had lost an engine.

He said : “In Angola, we were exposed to minefields planted by UNITA forces that incapacitated military contingents and observers. I remember occasions where I survived near plane crash.

“We lost an engine and the pilot drew my attention to it. The engine had failed and the second one could follow. I said that since we were flying along the Atlantic coast he should stay on course, and in the event that the second engine failed, we should crash into the Atlantic Ocean and perhaps we would save some lives.

“I told the Nigerian ambassador that we lost an engine and he fainted; the bloody civilian he fainted. Some of my staff also fainted.”

Asked if there was commotion on board as a result of the incident, the retired General, who was the governor of Bauchi between 1985 and 1988, said :
“Yes. My ADC just married and hadn’t had a child, so he felt that it was not the way he should die. I encouraged them as if I was not part of the people on board. Being the commander I had to give them assurance and plead with them to remain calm. I assured them that we were not going to crash, that God was in control.

“Eventually, we crashed-landed; and luckily, people at the airport were waiting for us. The runway was surrounded. The fire brigade came and they were able to get us out of the plane. There was smoke everywhere, and my neck kind of twisted. I was rushed to the hospital and they gave me a neck guard.

“They were able to revive the ambassador. I don’t think we lost any of my men; maybe one or two, but I can’t remember losing anybody because I was taken away immediately as the force commander.”

Speaking on his decision to go into farming after retirement, Garuba recounted how is investment in the agriculture industry was almost ruined by his workers through stealing.

He said :”I embarked on farming and got loan from Agric Bank, what they call Agric Development Bank (NACB). I got a N3 million loan from the bank to set up a farm.

” My farm was working very well in my place in Zone C. I constructed a dam, fish farm with 52 ponds. Till today, it remains the largest pond of fish farm in the northern part of our country. The landmass is 1,000 hectares.

” I had a fish farm component and wanted to produce shrimps and prawns for export. I got people from Tel Aviv to design the farm for me, which they did, but there was lack of airport at that time as the one in Makurdi was purely for military use and Abuja was not opened to night use. That was in the 1980s. And from Enugu, the road was very bad, so it didn’t work. I converted it from prawn to an ordinary fish farm.

“I also imported about 50 pigs from Bulgaria to set up a farm for the training of students from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who were involved in animal husbandry, especially those who were into vet medicine. They were using my farm as a study ground and reference.

“The rest of the farm was devoted to poultry, where I had up to 10,000 chicks. And I grew sorghum for Bendel Brewery. They were not paying me; they are still owing me. The brewery crystal got liquidated.

” The farm was doing well, but when I moved to Angola I didn’t have a competent person to look after it. The veterinary doctor who was looking after Dr Paulibrough, the Bulgarian, and some Indians who were managing it, didn’t do much good work.

” My brothers and sisters were going there to steal properties and sell. That was how the farm was run aground. But luckily, when I came back I was able to try to revamp it and was able to pay back the bank loan. So, I was happy.

” I tried to start it again and it was progressing well, but I noticed that there was a lot of stealing happening.

” They were stealing eggs, for example. I remember that I bought rain boots and made it compulsory for workers to wear.

“I remember that I was there one weekend to see how the farm was running and noticed that when people closed from work, instead of wearing their rain boots they would hang it on their shoulders. I blew the whistle and asked everybody to stay where they were and had my security men go round to see why they were not wearing their boots. When we flipped some of the boots over, we saw one or two chickens inside. Some had eggs. Everybody going out had something to sell or eat.

“Even the pigs suffered the same fate. Just to provide some water for the fish and drinking water for the people, I found that every market day, one pig would die of internal hemorrhage the workers caused. And they would go and clean it up at the dam and take the meat, sell and share the money.

“I never knew until one day, as a typical soldier, I said that since the pigs were dying, let us create a burial ground for them. But we found out that what they were burying there was the faeces and carcass from the pigs.

” I told you that we had 52 ponds, out of which 40 were for producing catfish, tilapia and giraruwa. What happened there was that there was an internal problem with the management and staff, so to get at the managing director there, they decided to poison 15 ponds with gammalin. The next morning, all the dead fish were floating. That was a big loss to me.

“They sent for me and I rushed there and saw it. I had to tell the governor then, Gabriel Suswan. He came and saw it and was very annoyed. We tried to arrest the people but they ran away. However, we managed to arrest few of them who we punished. Because of that, I decided to close the farm.

“I have not given up. I only decided to close it temporarily because of too much stealing. And there was bad blood between workers and the management. It was doing well. Everybody who worked there had a motorcycle. They were doing very well. Now, I want them to suffer a bit. They have sent to me to say they have suffered enough and think I should open the farm now. They came and pledged that they would not do that again.

“I have also seen that most people who were stealing because they couldn’t stop, since the farm was closed and those things were vandalised, went outside to steal and police caught up with them. Most of them have lost their lives. So, I don’t think that if I re-open the farm there would be much stealing again

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