More than two months after Stella Oduah, the Minister of Aviation, was sacked, there has been no one to replace her and Nigerians are beginning to say the absence of a new minister is a big scam. Oduah was sacked by President Goodluck Jonathan on 12 February following series of scandals, plane crashes and deaths in the sector.
She was indicted by the Nigerian House of Representatives for purchasing two BMW cars for her personal use at the hefty sum of N255 million. Because of these scandals, crashes and high handedness, especially, because aviation agencies had lost their independence under her, Nigerians wanted the minister sacked.
They wanted her to be replaced by someone more credible who could bring back decency and accountability to the sector. But more than two months after she was fired, she has not been replaced and there are allegations that she is still in charge by proxy.
Before she was sacked, there were multi-billion naira projects going on. About 11 airports were said to be under construction across the country. Contracts had also been awarded to many companies to construct terminal buildings, car parks and other projects. Oduah herself was alleged to be constructing a VIP hangar at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. These projects had come under great scrutiny with many aviation stakeholders alleging that they were given to cronies or were not well accounted for.
During Oduah’s tenure, concessions were also controversially and illegally terminated even when the cases were still in court. There were series of other issues that needed urgent attention. All these issues and projects need the attention of a new minister of aviation. But there are allegations that with billions at stake, the new minister cannot be appointed until the deals are completely sealed or the projects hurriedly completed.
Accountability and transparency will suffer when that happens.
In the face of all these, we call on President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint a new minister of aviation immediately to dispel rumours that Oduah is still in charge because of financial gains and give the aviation industry a man or woman who would take the sector to lofty heights.