—Crisis hits Visionscape
—Caverton helicopter crashes
There is an old saying that when problems come visiting, they rain down in torrents rather than mere trickles.
For Remi Makanjuola who heads Caverton Group and his son Niyi, helmsman of Visionscape and associated companies, the amount of worries they have faced in the past few months is enough to last two lifetimes. It has been a case of one debacle after another for the Makanjuola family, even as they do their best to dodge the slings and arrows being launched their way with frightening speed.
For a while, it promised to be all sunshine and paradise as father and son found themselves as recipients of generous and bounteous patronage from the Lagos State government. Niyi was the first to hit the jackpot as his company Visionscape won a contract to be the sole collector of domestic waste for the Lagos State government.
The glad tidings didn’t end there for Niyi as some of his other business concerns were invited to have their share of the government contract cake. Raven Energy, where he is a director, won a hotly-contested contract to provide electricity to power the Blue Line of the Lagos State Urban Rail Network. Meanwhile, Visionscape Water Solutions, another business child of Niyi’s, emerged as one of the preferred bidders for the construction of the 70MGD Adiyan Phase II Water Treatment Plant on a build, finance, operate and transfer basis.
Not to be left out of the government largesse which was raining down on the Makanjuola family like heavenly manna, Caverton Helicopters, a subsidiary of Caverton Group headed by the elder Makanjuola, Remi, won the rights to manage the state government’s security surveillance helicopter under the public private partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Having landed in such good fortune with being able to count the elite among their clientele, the father and son duo must have sworn a compact to step on the pedal and speed off into the distance at the first sign of trouble. Such is the level of caution warranted when working with men in power, whose favour is hard to win and easy to lose.
Trouble, however, seemed to have other plans in store for the Makanjuola dynasty. Not only did it come knocking, it sauntered into their living room uninvited and made itself comfortable on the plush sofa as the two men watched on in horror.
It was Visionscape that first landed in hot soup few weeks after it commenced work under the government’s Cleaner Lagos initiative. As it fought a battle on two fronts with the PSPs it had replaced, and the growing heaps of refuse dotting the Lagos landscape, it became apparent that the company had bitten more than it could chew. The company has to go cap in hand to beg the PSPs for help before it became totally drowned in the sea of refuse it was hired to dispose.
To add salt to injury, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who awarded the contract to Visionscape was knocked out of the reelection ring in the first round, thus throwing the company’s future in Lagos into huge doubts. The company is facing verbal attacks in the court of public opinion for doing a shoddy job, and physical attacks on its personnel and equipment, leading it to threaten to pull stop its operations in Lagos.
While the son is busy figuring out how to extricate himself from a messy situation, it is the turn of the father to experience headaches and sleepless nights. On Saturday, an Augusta AW139 helicopter belonging to Caverton Helicopters and carrying Vice-Preaident Yemi Osinbajo and 11 others crashed just as it was landing in Kabba. It took the prompt intervention of security state personnel who moved quickly on the scene to avert a national tragedy.
Since the incident, Remi and his company have come under massive heat from the families of those on board which inciuded the minister of state for labour and productivity, Stephen Ocheni. The government has also opened investigations into the incident which Caverton blamed on “unusual weather conditions” even as it promised to fully cooperate with the authorities.
Remi, who recently joined the septuagenarian club is unable to rest easy at the moment. Apart from the fear of government hammer which might fall on Caverton any time, he has to contend with the potential exodus of clients from his helicopter shuttle service for safer alternatives.