Jonathan Considers Redeployment As Soft Landing For Stella Oduah
Following the criticism that trailed the controversial purchase of two bullet proof BMW cars worth N255m by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), President Goodluck Jonathan may redeploy the Aviation Minister, Ms Stella Oduah for whom the cars were bought for to another ministry so as to ease the pressure on her.
Although the call by several group of Nigerians and individuals is for the minister to be removed from the cabinet and even prosecute, a highly placed presidential source said last night that “the minister might be given a soft landing treatment”.
Oduah has been under fire especially from Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and Dino Melaye, a former member of the House of Representatives who sees the controversial purchase of the cars as breach of public trust especially as the agency involved in the purchase is said to be cash strapped and the nation still recounting the ordeal of the last air disaster.
The plight of the minister was further compounded following the discordant tunes from the NCAA and her spokesman, who gave different accounts of the reason for the purchase of the cars.
First, there was a denial by the General Manager, Corporate Communications of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dattithat no such vehicle was purchased by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, but her spokesperson, Joe Obi, in an effort to justify the purchase of the cars said the minister’s life was in danger and so needed a bullet proof car for her safety.
The Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Folayele Akinkuotu broke the last straw with a claim that the two cars as operational vehicles. He also claimed that transporting the Minister and aviation-related foreign dignitaries was part of this operation.
But in order to douse the pressure on the Minister, a government official who spoke under the condition of anonymity, on the grounds that he was not authorised to speak on the matter, commended the media and the human rights community for exposing the minister and explained that the greatest sanction Oduah could be given was her redeployment from the ministry instead of outright removal.
“I have been monitoring the media reports on the bullet proof cars bought by the NCAA. In the first instance, it was wrong of her to fall into such a trap. This is what the senators call ‘banana peels’. Look at the timing. We are still mourning those who died in the last plane crash, the second under the woman’s watch. And with the cost of the two cars when the National Assembly and the NNPC are still fighting over the Federation Account proceeds. All these are her problems.
“But let me tell you the bitter truth, despite the deafening call for her sack, that minister might be given a soft landing treatment, not because of who she is, but because of what she has done in the past, especially the role she played during the last fuel pump price crisis. That woman hijacked the Information Ministry and that of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), and educated Nigerians over why the sector must be deregulated. So the worst thing that could happen to her is to be redeployed from that ministry.
“Don’t forget that Oduah played a tremendous role in the election of Jonathan in 2011 through the Neighbour-2-Neighbour campaign group,” the official said.
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