Stella Oduah’s car purchase: Aviation workers threaten to go on strike

by ‘Jola Sotubo

The crisis in Nigeria’s aviation sector has escalated even further with workers in the industry threatening to go on strike.

The workers are reportedly aggrieved about the recent controversy surrounding the purchase of two bullet-proof cars worth N255 million by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA) for the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah.

The workers unions are thus preparing to embark on a strike to register their disapproval of the minister’s actions.

Nigerian Eye reports:

The Director of Aerodrome, NCAA, Mr. Joyce Nkem-Akonam, who handled the transaction as the acting Managing Director of the NCAA, told the committee that the agency breached no law, as “leased financing, not direct financing, was adopted to procure the vehicles.”

Speaking to one of our correspondents on Friday, the National President, Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Benjamin Okewu, however said the association did not buy NCAA’s explanation and would hold a meeting next week to conclude its plans on the protest.

According to him, other labour unions and civil society groups have been lobbying aviation workers to join them in a mass protest.

Okewu said, “What we are talking about is between now and Wednesday. We should have had the meeting and taken a decision on what to do.”

The General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees, Abdulkareem Motajo, in a separate interview, confirmed that associations in the sector were making plans to protest against corruption in the aviation ministry.

“All the three unions in the industry are doing the same thing; we are leading the fight together and we will not relent until we ensure that everything is put in order. We are working together,” Motajo said.

Apart from the corruption in the industry, the workers are angry that the Federal Government is bent on punishing the whistle-blower who revealed the scandalous car transaction to the media. The unions argued that what the informant did was for public good.

The Federal Government had announced its manhunt for those who leaked official information on the bulletproof cars, but Okewu noted that the Freedom of Information Act protected such persons.

He said, “Let them (FG) try anything, we’ll tell them that we are in charge.”

Similarly, Motajo said the person who leaked the information deserved a national honour.

He said the individual should be given a national award “for exposing what Nigerians have seen as a risk to their common wealth.”

He added that the informant had the cover of the Freedom of Information Act.

“The unions are waiting to see any action that will be taken against such a person. We demand that the National Assembly and the Federal Government should give a national award to such a person, instead of sacking him or her. The union will never allow anybody to be sent out as a result of divulging this information.”



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