by ‘Jola Sotubo
Despite calls for her sack all around the country, indications have shown that the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, will be redeployed rather than relieved of her duties.
The minister has been under fire after details of a N255 million bullet-proof car purchase, allegedly ordered by her, were revealed to the general public.
According to reports, President Goodluck Jonathan may have decided to let Oduah off easy by reassigning her to another portfolio rather than hanging her out to dry.
Leadership News reports:
Although the call from a critical segment of the public is for her removal from cabinet for allegedly allowing her personal interests to override national interest, a highly placed presidential source told LEADERSHIP last night that “the minister might be given a soft landing treatment”.
Oduah has been at the centre of a controversy over bullet proof cars worth $1.6m (N255m), purchased for her by an agency under her watch at a time when the last air disaster just occurred, the second since her appointment as the minister.
The situation is further compounded by discordant tunes from the NCAA and her spokesman, who gave different accounts of the reason for the purchase of the cars.
Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and Dino Melaye, a former member of the House of Representatives have been in the forefront of a campaign asking for her sack.
But, speaking under the condition of anonymity, on the grounds that he was not authorised to speak on the matter, a government official who commended the media and the human rights community, 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.
Oduah’s problems began when an online news medium, SaharaReporters broke the news that the Aviation Ministry had purchased two bullet proof cars and that they were delivered to the minister in August.
It reported that documents in its possession showed that the transaction for the purchase of the two BMW cars started in June, but the request for the delivery and payment for them was fast tracked between August 13 and 15, 2013.
The National Assembly has shown interest in the matter. The two chambers will investigate the saga with a view to verifying when the cars were purchased and if due process was followed and especially, if the purchase was in this year’s Appropriation Act.