By Simon Ateba
Nigeria’s embattled aviation minister, Stella Oduah, will not resign and those who claim the House of Representatives had called for her resignation or sack should go back to school, she said on Tuesday in Lagos, southwestern Nigeria.
Oduah said federal lawmakers had neither indicted her nor called on President Goodluck Jonathan to sack her.
Rather, she said, what the House recommended was for the presidency to review some of the things in the aviation sector.
The minister, who inspected remodelled facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, was asked by a journalist if she would resign following federal lawmakers recommendations to President Jonathan.
She replied, ” I think it means you don’t read or you probably don’t understand English because I read it too. What is there is that Mr. President can and should review. That is what they said there. Probably, you should go back to school.”
Oduah’s statement left a mammoth of journalists who had thronged the airport bewildered.
The Nigerian House of Representatives last week endorsed the report of its Committee on Aviation, which had indicted Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, over the purchase of two BMW cars at the hefty sum of N255 million.
The House endorsed the report at a Plenary last Thursday.
The report concluded that for approving cars that were not budgeted for in 2013 and for an amount far above the approval limit of the ministry, Oduah had broken the law.
It said the minister committed the breach by approving expenditure of over N643 million for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to procure 54 vehicles this year.
The House noted that her approval limit as a minister was N100 million.
The House asked President Goodluck Jonathan to decide whether he should continue to retain her services as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A major recommendation of the committee, which was adopted, read, “The House urges the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to review the continued engagement of the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, for having contravened the Appropriation Act, 2013 and the approved, revised threseholds by exceeding the Ministry of Aviation’s approval limit of N100m by the purchase of 54 vehicles valued at N643m.”
The endorsement of the report by the House elicited a prompt response from Oduah, who described the action as premeditated and with a hidden agenda.
“We are shocked and disappointed that in spite of the deluge of representations and evidences provided by the Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah and all invited stakeholders on the matter, the House would reach conclusions that have only confirmed that there was a hidden Agenda in the entire exercise from the beginning,” said Joe Obi, Odua’s spokesperson.
Speaking on the remodelled airport, Oduah assured that the airport would be commissioned before the end of first quarter of 2014.
“We want to be able to start the usage of all these facilities by first quarter of next year. What is very key is that passenger travelling experience will be very very different,” Oduah said.
She added: “It will be the way it should be; it means you have the comfort, you have the safety and you have the security and most importantly as you’ve seen we’ve increased the capacity which means you have ample space to really do what you are supposed to do.”
On the national carrier, she said she encountered a bit of a challenge.
“We are trying to rectify that challenge. I think we will do it very soon but the important thing is that we want to give Nigerians a national carrier that we all aspire to have. That that will be a true representation of all of us, that that can be bought from the market. That that will be professionally and efficiently managed,” she said.
She didn’t go into details about the challenge, told journalists they don’t need to know about the issue.
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