Oduahgate: APC tackles Jonathan

All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan may become an accessory to corruption by what the party described as his current path of shielding Aviation Minister Stella Oduah, from the consequences of the massive corruption and abuse of office over the purchase of two armoured cars at an inflated cost and without following due process.

The APC took this position as the minister is to appear before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation tomorrow to explain her role in the scandal.

The APC, in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said it reached that conclusion after juxtaposing the evidence that have come out on the scandal against the actions so far taken by the President.

‘’It has now emerged that the money spent to purchase the armoured cars was not appropriated, which is a violation of the Nigerian Constitution; that due process was not followed in buying the cars, as the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has testified, and that the minister – who was said to have approved the purchase – violated the law by approving an expenditure over the 100 million naira limit,” the APC said.

Consequently, it said, “These revelations make the Oduahgate a straightforward case that should have been summarily dealt with by the President. Instead, he has engaged himself in rigmarole by setting up a diversionary administrative panel in what is now looking like an orchestrated ploy to buy time, hoping this issue will die down and the minister will escape being sanctioned.

‘’Unfortunately for Mr. President, Oduahgate is not just another scandal, but a referendum on his administration’s fight against corruption, and on the legacy he intends to leave in this critical area.’’
the party also accused the President of thumbing his nose at Nigerians, who have expressed outrage at the action of the minister, by approving for her to travel to Israel as part of his entourage.

‘’No one believes the dummy that is being sold to the public, that the minister was denied access to the President in Israel. The egregious act of putting the minister on his entourage, at a time she is at the centre of a terrible scandal, calls to question the President’s sense of propriety and his commitment to the war against corruption.
‘’This indecorous action of making a minister who is under investigation for monumental corruption and abuse of office, one of the faces of Nigeria in a foreign land is an embarrassment to the country and its people, and a further dent on the poor image of the Jonathan Administration. We condemn it most wholeheartedly. We now understand why corruption has grown wings under the Jonathan Presidency, and why the administration may well go down as the most corrupt in the country’s history,’’ the party said.

It added that through his body language, President Jonathan is sending a signal to his ministers that it is alright to be corrupt, wondering whether the President is aware of the joke making the rounds that there are five super ministers in his cabinet whom he can neither sanction nor remove, irrespective of their actions, because they are the ones ferreting funds into his war chest for 2015. In other words, any of his ministers whom he perceives as key to his re-election can even loot Aso Rock and get away with it.

‘’We do not know whether this is true or not, but we do know there is no smoke without fire, and that the seeming attempt to sweep Oduahgate under the carpet lends some credence to the joke.”

The party noted that because of the President’s waffling in dealing with what is a straightforward case of corruption, misguided people have now resorted to crowd hiring to protest against the growing calls for the minister to be sanctioned over the scandal – a very sad case since those being hired for such disgusting protests are the real victims of the mindless corruption that has permeated the land.

‘’These sponsored protests are just the beginning. Next, they will either engineer or hope that a spectacular violent attack, a la Boko Haram, will occur to take attention away from the scandal. They may also charge some out-of-luck folks to court over the scandal and then say they cannot act on the issue anymore because it is sub judice,’’ it said.

APC said, however, that the party as well as other concerned groups and citizens are closely following the developments on Oduahgate and will not allow it to be swept under the carpet in the interest of the millions of Nigerians who have been consigned into the lowest rung of existence.
The Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah is to appear before the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation tomorrow to explain her role in the scandal.

The House, at its sitting last week, resolved that its Committee on Aviation should investigate the purchase of $1.6 million bullet proof BMW cars bought for the Aviation minister.
The resolution was sequel to a motion raised under matter of urgent public importance by the Minority Whip of the House, Hon. Samson Osagie.

The motion was entitled, ‘Investigation into the purchase of $1.6 million bullet proof BMW cars by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the Honourable Minister of Aviation pursuant to section 88 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).’

At last week’s hearing of the committee in the House, the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) revealed that NCAA did not follow due process in the alleged purchase of the controversial two BMW armoured cars.
At the hearing, Ayo Aderibigbe, a Deputy Director at the BPP, who represented the Director-General of the agency, Engineer Emeka Eze, told the House Aviation Committee that the bureau was neither involved in the transaction by the NCAA nor the ministry.

He explained that the action of the NCAA, in respect of the purchase of the said vehicles, was outright violation of the provisions of the Act establishing the bureau.

Moreover, he stated that any good worth more than one hundred million naira is beyond the approval limit of the NCAA and must go to the Federal Executive Council for approval.

Also, the Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejiocha, and other members of the committee accused the NCAA of violating the provisions of the 2013 Appropriation Act as well as the constitution of the country, which stipulate the way and public fund should be spent.

Not satisfied with the presentation and responses of the officials of NCAA, the committee mandated them to come back tomorrow, October 29, 2013, with bank statements from their operational accounts with the First Bank, Sterling Bank, UBA, FCMB, Zenith Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

They also insisted that the minister of Aviation must conclude or abandon her official engagement in Israel and appear before the committee tomorrow as a matter of compulsion.

It would be recalled that the Senate said last week that it was not foot-dragging on the scandal involving the Minister of Aviation over the purchase of two armoured BMW cars, adding that it would, first of all check the available facts and figures before conducting investigation into the scandal.

Also President Jonathan has set up a panel to probe allegations that his aviation minister purchased two armoured vehicles. Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, said a three-man administrative panel of inquiry, which includes National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and two others, will investigate the acquisition process and aim “to find out the purpose to which the vehicles were procured.”

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