Stella Oduah And The Mystery Of Resignation By Nufaisah Garba Ahmed
In recent times, the Nigerian political firmament has been awash with episodes of controversies, goofs and gaffes ranging from heated debate on the proposed National Conference, unveiling of its modalities which were faulted on the basis of composition, timing and duration, to merger of minority political parties that streamlined and formed a strong opposition, to the released of the forthcoming elections timeline manifest, to unfolding turf squabbles in the ruling party PDP, to chain of political defections, to launching of various economic blueprints by the government and to subsequent cabinet shake-ups, reshuffles, resignations, and warranted search for replacements. All these underscores the intriguing nature of the Nigerian politics spiny to grasp and palpable to explain by ordinary citizenry. In human nature, it is common to marry up with the reality of things and accept providence when political office holders attained the pinnacle of their careers through political cronyism or ethnic and religious favouritism, but suddenly tend to soil their integrity and public trust when cut-off in the quest to fulfill their vested interest. This is anchored on the fact that, it is uneasy for them to term with the trends of things when they allowed greed, forgery, political fronting and complacency to spell out and take centre stage in their stewardship as heads of government ministries and parastatals.
Last Wednesday, as expected for long, President Jonathan “sacked” the embattled minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah with four others and the print, electronic media and social sites were covered with mixed reactions for and against the protocols and contentions of whether they voluntarily resigned or were sacked. Few hours later, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, cleared the air by unraveling the circumstances that led to their sack, which he put in ‘order to allow then time to pursue other goals’. However, it bewilders a lot to the chagrin of many that a minister that was enmeshed in the pool of corruption allegations and other scandals which caused public outrage in the country with masses and elites calling for her removal and prosecution can be given such a pampering and celebrant soft-landing.
Obviously, certain achievements cannot be denied of her that since assuming duties she has left no one in doubt that she was on the lane of implementing the mandate given to her. She took over a sector that was nearly on the verge of collapse with inherent lack of consistent aviation policy and lack lustre management system. She also conceived and initiated the Aviation Road Map which provided the institutional framework for the provision of infrastructure, monitoring and control of the industry. In pursuance of her mission, she received a huge countenance from Nigerians when shortly on resumption, she suspended the exploitative collection of ?2,500 passenger service charge introduced maliciously by operators. Also, fresh in my memory was her boldness to withstand the sandstorm of engaging in a phenomenal stand against the British authorities on the airfare disparity saga which recorded stellar success.
Unarguably, the onset of her ascension as minister witnessed unprecedented result-oriented action that won her sympathy and admiration among Nigerians. For instance, the Nigerian airports and terminals were in dire need of overhauling to overcome the infrastructural decay and deficit. After careful deliberations, she embarked on massive reconstruction and remodelling, and within 3 months of taking over the baton, she commenced work on all airports in the first instance, 6 out of the 22 earmarked. Moreover, she championed the conception and implementation of Aerotropolis Project which may make available, cosmopolitan cities with complete infrastructure around the Nigerian airports and provide us with the wherewithal and concrete grounding to stand in the comity of nations spearheading this modern business module.
However, in spite of her huge accomplishments in the aviation sector, she became so untouchable and a kingmaker in charting the course of Nigerian economic growth and development. On the process of this, certain things manifested towards the twilight of her public service that were characterized by bagful of scandals which public commentators believed attributed to her forceful resignation or disengagement. First was the petition that was unleashed on her by aviation stakeholders challenging her authority and disposition on remodeling the airports without approval, contracts awarded without due process and funds spent without regards for laid down procedures.
Second was her entanglement in the purchase of bullet-proof cars by an agency under her supervision with two panels finding her guilty of violating the public procurement and appropriate law? A committee was set-up to ascertain the quagmire and they later advocated that she contravened the law by exceeding her approval limit and in the long run, recommended to the President urging him to review the continued engagement of the minister. And last was her disgraceful and enigmatic involvement in a certificate forgery scandal.
Actually, whatever one may hunch or hinge on his perception of the erstwhile minister, one thing cannot be compromise that she has played key spectacular role in restrategizing and remodelling the Nigerian airports. This she does by bringing global players into the industry to boost our economy by way of internally generated revenues and open a floodgate of employment opportunities.
However, the president has taken a told step and uncommon courage in firing her on some of her unbecoming actions cannot be condoned by any corrupt-free administration. The president has tolerated enough by sticking and shielding her throughout the period she was plunged into those scandals. Though, what remain in mystery is the lack of substantial fact of whether she resigned voluntarily or was forced to resign in order not to incur public disaffection, hues and cries towards the government. But, no matter how lenient and political the president want to be, it become clear and imperative that she deserves a serious scrutiny after office and if found guilty, as established by other committees, to be prosecuted in accordance with civil litigation . This would help to checkmate the excesses of some public office holders and curtail, to the minimum, the gamut of corruption and abuses of office in Nigeria.
Nufaisah Garba Ahmed,is a student with the Dept of International Studies,A.B.U. Zaria
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