Oduah and the political snipers: Diaspora perspective

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By Charles Efe Sylvester The way the purchase of armoured cars saga has unfolded in the Nigerian media is a wakeup call to leaders who come to office determined to carry out fundamental change; leaders who are not politicians are learning the hard lesson that indeed the political waters are very murky and dangerous and that innocence is not enough to keep you safe. Ever since the story on the propriety or otherwise of the purchase of Armoured BMW vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, purportedly for the Minister of Aviation broke out, Nigerians at home and abroad have been inundated with different versions of the story. It will appear that the penchant for bad news being the best kind of news has been taken to an entirely new dimension back home. Journalists from different media across the land seem to be desperately trying to outdo themselves in reporting this issue and have thus thrown the time valued doctrine of investigative journalism to the dogs. The sequence of events are indicative of the intentions of mischief makers who obviously are behind the current travails of the Minister to demonize her before the Nigerian public so as to undermine the monumental successes recorded in the aviation sector during her stewardship. Quite a number of us, Nigerians in the diaspora were quite worried when we began to read news from home on this issue. The impression that was created initially was that Madam Stella Oduah, simply dipped her hands with reckless impunity into the coffers of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, fetched the sum of 255 million naira and took a dainty stroll to CosCharis Motors, one of Nigeria’s’ main dealers for BMW cars and purchased two choice Armoured vehicles for herself against all laid down rules and policy guidelines. The situation was not helped by discordant tones coming from ministry officials as well as authorities from the NCAA itself. For those of us who continue to strive to make a decent living in the diaspora, news like this tends to make us look really bad before our host countries. Whenever Nigeria is presented in such very bad light, it directly rubs off on us. Like most of my fellow countrymen in the diaspora, I began to put out frantic calls to friends and relations in Nigeria to try to understand what was really going on beyond the reports coming in from various media back home in Nigeria. As events began unfold, suspicion that Aviation Minister Stella Oduah might not have actually procured the controversial N255million armoured cars is gaining traction in the nation’s public discourse circle, with Nigerians trying to understand whether the reports that they have been reading in the media are entirely true and whether indeed public funds were wasted recklessly. The whole saga is now unfolding as a calculated attempt by enemies within and without, with a common goal of trying to tarnish the image of the Minister, which is not surprising as she must have stepped on many toes in her widely acclaimed achievements of modernisation and transformation of the aviation sector.(Her policy that all private jets must be properly licenced as well as historic achievements of the resent BASA agreement with Israel and re modelling of the airports, which had been dilapidated despites budgetary allocations of billions of Naira through the years comes to mind. A woman that fought British interests in order to protect Nigerian businesses-Arik Air and  unfair ticket charges, acquisition of private jets and began airport  modernisation ,clearly became a star in the Jonathan administration and a pride to many, but recent events have shown that some people are unhappy with her laudable achievements and will like to pull her down at all cost, even denying her the basic fundamental human right to fair hearing. she has been adjudged guilty, at least until her appearance last week before the National Assembly panel probing the transaction. As some of us know, Princess Stella is a billionaire in her own right and does not need to financially benefit from this transaction, if the transaction does exist. What we are hearing authoritatively now is that what transpired was actually a three party arrangement for the purchase of operational vehicles for NCAA which indeed received the approval of the House of Representatives. This three party arrangement involved First Bank, CosCharis Motors and the NCAA for a long lease purchase agreement with payment spread over a period of thirty six months. We have learnt further that these vehicles were not purchased in the name of Stella Oduah. We in the diaspora would have been saved the load of embarrassment that this unfortunate saga has caused. As  an entrepreneur, I have come to the realisation, like many others, that sometimes my best staff, even myself could make an error of judgement, but that should not necessarily lead to a sack, otherwise our organisation may not have been as successful as it is today. Let him that thinks him or her is perfect cast the first stone. Some of us are beginning to think that there is more to this bad publicity than meets the eye, as all the president’s political enemies see Princess as a key strategist for the 2015 presidential election and a threat to their ambitions. Princess Stella should be allowed to continue her good work of transforming the aviation sector without all these distractions by political snipers. *Sylvester is a Nigerian entrepreneur based in London

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