Embattled Minister of Aviation,Ms Stella Oduah has hit back at her critics,saying she cannot be distracted by their rantings.She spoke on Sunday ,in Lagos a function tagged ” Aviation Workers Buy -In ” into the master plan forum. An obviously defiant Oduah told aviation workers that “ in the course of our intervention efforts to reposition the sector, we may have stepped on some toes considered sacred in the past.Obviously our modest effort to have a paradigm shift in the way the sector was managed in past has unsettled these categories of persons who have ever since, vowed to fight dirty and distract us from our set objectives. But we have a message for them- we refuse to be intimidated, distracted or derailed.”
Speaking at the forum ,Stella Oduah said the plan has inherent benefits for aviation workers who are expected to drive its implementation .
The occasion was attended by workers of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria ( FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency ( NAMA), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology ( NCAT), the Accident Investigation Bureau ( AIB) and others.
Oduah described the Master Plan as the best thing that has ever happened to the industry saying already the implementation of the policy had led to the transformation of 22 airports in the country to world class standards.
“The master plan is a compass that guides our path to the true, real and sustainable development of the aviation sector . it caters for the infrustructure, safety and security needs of the sector” Oduah said.
“It has the potentials to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment into the sector to help grow the economy. It also provides the surest path to the self sustainability of the sector, leading ultimately to better condition and standard of living of the entire sector workforce
“Already through the guided implementations the Master Plan we have been able to rehabilitate and remodel all 22 airports across the country,” she added.
She further said :” We shall be able to have more revenues to contribute to the federal coffers and retain a reasonable percentage for our welfare and well-being.With more investment in the sector and more monies in the coffers of the Agencies, we would be able to initiate welfare schemes that possibly take care of staff holidays, improve access to Medicare, enhanced salaries and allowances, create greater access to local and international capacity building programmes and a general improvement in the condition of service of the average aviation sector worker.
“My Dear Colleagues, the foregoing is a snippet of the huge promise which the Aviation Master Plan holds for the sector, for the nation and for our individual and collective interests as aviation sector workers.
There is no reason why an aviation sector worker cannot have the same standard of living as his counterparts in the CBN, the NNPC, the FIRS or other more ‘glamorous’ federal government parastatals!
The difference lies in the choice or choices we make, starting from this very moment. Our destiny is in our own hands as our fortunes are, like Siamese twins, intrinsically tied to the fortunes of the sector. So why don’t we take a decision today to improve the fortunes of the sector in order to guarantee a higher standard of living for ourselves?”
Oduah said :” It makes adequate provision for a programmed development of critical infrastructure in the industry, caters to the safety and security needs of the sector as well as the welfare/capacity building requirements of staff.It has the potential to attract the much-needed Foreign Direct Investment into the sector and help grow the economy.
And above all, the Master Plan provides the surest path to the self-sustainability of the sector, leading ultimately to better condition and standard of living of the sector workforce.”
She said :” Needless to say that in the course of our intervention efforts to reposition the sector, we may have stepped on some toes considered sacred in the past.Obviously our modest effort to have a paradigm shift in the way the sector was managed in past has unsettled these categories of persons who have ever since, vowed to fight dirty and distract us from our set objectives. But we have a message for them- we refuse to be intimidated, distracted or derailed. Let me take this opportunity to reassure you that as co-drivers on the Transformation train, we would not lose sight of our destination. With you on our side we are convinced that those whose desire is to drag us back to the sordid past will not have their way.”
And apparently to please the minister , workers endorsed the “Aviation Sector Master Plan and Implementation Road Map”, put together by a team of consultants in hope that its implementation holds great prospects in unlocking potentials for foreign direct investment , creating jobs and bring about massive airports infrastructure upgrade .
The workers spoke through Mr Emmanuel Chukwu, chairman of Aviation Associates .Chukwu assured that aviation workers are committed to the implementation of the plan, which has being unfolded to them as a key document expected to transform the strategic sector .
Effective implementation of the master plan is expected to increase the contribution of the sector to over N110 billion to the Gross Domestic Product ( GDP), in the next few years .
Apart from increase in the contribution of aviation to the nation’s economy , the master plan will also set aside more revenue for the development of the sector that would be geared towards human capacity development, investment in infrastructure as well as the welfare of
industry workers .
Despite her defiant stance, critics have continued to demand the arrest and trial of Oduah by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ,EFCC over the N255m bulletproof cars scandal.Her claim she cannot be distracted may further inflame her critics.