Oduah And The Writing On The Wall,By Danlami Nmodu

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Oduah carsIt appears we have not learnt any lessons about how to resolve scandals in high places ‘with immediate effect’ yet. Yes ,the last expression may be seen as the hangover of the military era, but it is a fact that in other climes, once a scandal of an enormous proportion like what we now know as Oduahgate breaks, leaders want to avoid it like the plague; and everything is done with alacrity-if you like ‘with immediate effect’ – to end it ,so that the government and the entire society can move on.
Not so here:in fact last week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA an agency at the heart of Oduahgate left everyone dumbfounded when it said it had no documents of the purchase of the bullet proof cars ,which are in the eye of the raging storm . E. D. Chukwuma legal adviser to NCAA reportedly said in the agency’s response to a request by Femi Falana, SAN said “I am directed to refer to your letter dated 21st October, 2013 on the above matter and to inform you that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is not in possession of any document relating to the purchase of armoured cars for the Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah.
Specifically NCAA said,“With regard to your request for records of previous purchase of armoured cars by the Aviation Ministry or NCAA, I am to inform you that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority does not have such records.”Such a position by the agency ,I must confess is as suspicious as the purchase of the cars in shady circumstances.Such official claims are likely to raise more questions that may widen the dimension of the scandal.Or is anyone hiding something? Just wondering!
The sum of N255million was spent to buy armoured cars for the Minister of Aviation Ms Stella Oduah.And since the story was exposed, the minister and concerned aviation parastatals have been jumping from pillar to post ,all in a bid to save the minister and possibly other culprits.
At this point, I like to reiterate the point I made over a week ago on Independent Television,ITV’s live programme,Aviation Focus in Abuja.As a people, we must learn to respect ourselves starting from the individual level –and I now want to stretch that point furher by saying – so that we do the most obvious thing which is to throw in the towel,when we are caught in such embarrassing situation.Especially so if you hold a public post .Once as a human being you are able to tell yourself ,you made a mistake, then face the consequences by taking personal responsibility.And the best line of action for a public office holder is to resign.Any other story can come later.Just go first.I argued on television that the most important thing for Oduah to do was to resign or be shown the door.
But clearly she, like most officials in her shoes, has chosen to sit tight and fight on, instead of throwing in the towel .When the story was published officials attempted to deny it until it became impossible to deny.Later we were told the cars were bought for the minister’s protection in the light of her reforms in the sector which made her face imminent threat. But I asked bullet- proof cars? What kind of enemies has she made that she cannot rely on the police and other security agencies to give her security cover if such threats become real? Did she report such threats to the police , the State Security Service,SSS and others? Strangely,she denied at the House of Reps Hearing that the cars were bought for her.So did her aide lie when he said the cars were meant for her protection against imminent threats? Official twist and turn you may say!
I just suspect that if she fails to resign she may be setting herself up for a bigger disgrace as the president’s axe is bound to fall on her.The writing is clear and she ought to see it.If she hasn’t looked at them closely, let me outline a few steps President Goodluck Jonathan has taken that indicate she may in fact be on her way out.
First ,is the panel to investigate the scandal comprising ex Head of Service,Sali Bello , the National Security Adviser,Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd) and Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenebere (retd).These are men of substance .Without pre-empting them, I don’t see them bending any rules to exonerate in their report anyone who is found guilty. And of course ,we all expect President Jonathan to act on the report.
Second, Oduah miscalculated by flying to Israel just about the same time with the President.Actually, she ought to stay back and try to solve her problems.Her trip to Israel has further intensified the search light on her moves.Recall the opposition All Progressive Congress accused the president of trying to protect her.Apparently it seemed many had thought her trip was an avenue for her to undermine the credibility of the president’s moves towards transparently resolving the problem.
But reports also from Israel where the president has been among of the Christian Pilgrims indicate that, for once, the president seemed determined to put Oduah in her place,at least to give some credibility to the government’s moves.One report said Jonathan snubbed attempts by embattled to meet with him in Israel.Also, there was yet another story that the president stopped her from m signing a Bilateral Air Services Agreement with Israel .Foreign Affairs Minister , Prof. Viola Onwuliri eventually signed the agreement on behalf of Nigeria.
These are clear signs for the minister to hurry home and apologize to Nigerians and quit.Let it be said that prolonging this scandal will certainly impact negatively on Nigeria’s international corruption rating.Oduahgate,like the fuel subsidy scandal and others scams are bad for Nigeria’s image.The time has come to always swiftly deal with such scandals.That is why the president’s resort to a panel before sacking Oduah remains truly unfortunate.A summary action against the minister could have enhanced the regime’s anti corruption rating.Sadly, prior to the setting up of the Presidential panel,there was evident tardiness at the top level in the handling of Oduahgate.And the entire picture ,so far, leaves us with more questions than answers.

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