Stella Oduah: Woman Down
By Ross Alabo-George
It is one bullet Mr. President cannot afford to take for his minister. It will pierce through Fedora hat. This president has taken too many bullets for some of his cabinet ministers and auxiliaries in government, and cannot afford to continue being in such politically hazardous crossfire. No president goes down for his subordinate.
When they do, it is either because the political cost has been cautiously weighed and confirmed harmless or they simply consider it manoeuvrable for political advantage. This one is not.
Not even a military general takes a bullet for a troop, because the fall of the general means much more than just the fall of a soldier man. President Goodluck Jonathan has taken bullets for his ministers of Petroleum Resources, Niger Delta Affairs, Education, the list goes on. He has been a shield for his party and for his own presidency.
In December 2012, when Ambassador Susan Rice dropped her bid for US Secretary of State, even as President Barack Obama’s nominee, it was not because she was nay less qualified than Senator John Kerry. She stepped aside to save the president some huge political capital. Her confirmation by the US Senate was not impossible. Even with the bashing she got for ‘misinforming’ America on the US Embassy attack in Benghazi, President Obama could slap enough backs to get her through confirmation, but at a huge political cost. Ambassador Rice understood that: she spared her president the loss.
The right thing should be done, Princess Oduah should resign her appointment as minister and spare the president the burden of her sack. When Ambassador Rice, now US National Security Adviser, voluntarily stepped aside, President Obama said the ambassador showed “an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first.”
As dynamic as she has been as minister of aviation, Princess Oduah’s inability to resign her appointment and pursue the ‘clearing’ of her name, like Nigerian politicians like to say, is causing a pilgrim president some major embarrassment.
I can understand the president’s burden. Princess Oduah is passionate about the transformation agenda. She was the carburettor of his political machine in 2011, and an elegant symbol of female activism in partisan politics. She has made not a few adversaries as an armour bearer for the president.
She stepped on toes, and crushed the feet of the president’s adversaries who crossed the red carpet, and she did so without blinking an eyelid. She grounded aircrafts and entire airlines owned by powerful politicians in her course of duty. She is a staunch supporter and loyalist, not like many of the president’s men who dine with his enemies at dusk. She personified the president’s agenda for aviation and cruised in her space like a Concorde.
Her careful rise to the upper echelon of politics was not by chance. A few people came down on her way up. It is, therefore, utter insensitivity for a minister of the ruling party to still remain in the cabinet while being investigated by a ‘military’ panel set up by her boss. The princess should understand that her political viability as minister has expired. The glory has departed.
But the princess is a fighter and an political Amazon. Her greatest pain will not be that she wouldn’t be minister anymore, rather it will be that she has some unfinished battles. Her war to restore our airports have almost been won, but not yet. Her fight to make our airspace safer is not finished too. Her fight to deliver the president in 2015 is one fight she won’t stop even if sacked. Back home, her fight to check the rivalry of Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, as the Queen of Anambra politics may just have been lost. But don’t count her out just yet.
This scandal goes to show the loopholes in our procurement process. It has become clear that even in due process, there are corrupt procedures. These leakages are a source of concern to citizens, and the role of the financial institutions in this whole mess cannot be downplayed. It is time to re-evaluate the sufficiency of the Public Procurement Act of 2007.
Now, is she guilty? I don’t know. She has not been tried, and no one can tell. But right now, she doesn’t even have to be. The tenuous and wobbly defence put up by the NCAA has made some of us – non-partisan supporters of the president- uncomfortable. No cogent defence, no reliable proof of innocence, and no rational talking point to defend the administration on this matter have emerged. I will rather not defend the president on this matter, because the bullet has already hit its target. It is not time to look for the snipers, it is time to tow away the fallen, and put national interest first.
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