Fresh troubles for Oduah

The troubles of the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, are far from ebbing as the House of Representatives ad hoc committee probing land swap in Abuja yesterday summoned her and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim, over the planned construction of a new city near the airport in Abuja.
This was just as the Senate yesterday ordered its Committee on Aviation to set everything in motion for the drilling of Oduah over the controversial bullet proof cars said to have been purchased for her by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and incessant air crashes during her tenure as minister.

The invitation by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee followed the submission of the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, at the investigative hearing yesterday that the FCT administration was  yet to allocate any land for the Centenary City.
Consequently, the minister and the SGF are expected to explain the justification for the land to be acquired for the purpose of constructing the Centenary City as well as the roles to be played by a company specifically floated for the purpose of the city.

“We should not inflict pains on Nigerians just because we are celebrating 100 years. The interest of Nigerians should be paramount regardless of whatever any investor is bringing into the project,” the lawmakers said.
They also stated that, “We will advise the minister to proceed with caution, so that when Bala Mohammed leaves office, we don’t go back 100 years as a country.”

The Centenary City, a leisure and tourism centre covering 1200 hectares, is part of the proposed legacies for the country’s 100 years of nationhood.
The ad hoc Committee on Land Swap chaired by Hon Bimbo Daramola,  was, however, shocked by the FCT minister’s revelation in a petition by 186 land subscribers in Goza Estate.
They insisted that, “The SGF and the Aviation minister are put on notice to appear before the ad hoc committee to brief us about the project.”

According to the petitioners, the reason given by officials of the Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA) before their houses were pulled down was that the land had been allocated for the constitution of the Centenary City.
However, in his presentation, the FCT minister revealed that though a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been reached with a developer, no land has been allocated yet.
He also said the FCT has not allocated any land to a developer under the land swap arrangement that will affect 17 villages, but he explained that the FCT stands to rake in N993 billion as well as create one million direct jobs from the scheme.
Mohammed also told the committee that out of over one million applications for land,  16,069 land allocations had been made since 2010, while almost 89,000 allocations are pending for approval.
The minister, who said over 737 land titles have recently been resolved, however, revealed that some officials of the FCT have been apprehended for conspiracy for arbitrarily revoking land allocations.
He said the FCT has  87,789 land cases pending in various courts and paid over N4 billion in compensation with N200 billion outstanding.
The minister said the FCT under his administration had to resort to the land swap arrangement for the development of the FCT and its satellite towns because of the huge infrastructure deficit.
He said 1,588 land allocations have been granted necessary documents for mass housing scheme, while 136 corporate bodies have also been allocated land for the same purpose in the satellite towns.

According to him, the FCT administration would require N480million yearly for five years to bridge the deficit.
He said the FCT is currently at 30 percent developed in infrastructure, adding that contrary to wide-held belief in some quarters that the investigation was about ‘witch-bunting, ‘the proceeding of the day showed that the panel was acting in the best interest of the country.

And yesterday, the Senate said its Committee on Aviation should prepare to drill the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, over the controversial bullet proof cars and the incessant air crashes in the aviation industry.
Hitherto, the Senate had said the embattled Minister of Aviation should  appear before it in line with its resolution of October 8, 2013 in the wake of the October 3rd 2013 crash of the Associated Aircraft in Lagos.

The Senate had earlier postponed the appearance of the minister before it last week Thursday to yesterday on account of the absence of the Senate President, David Mark, at plenary, before it now ordered its Committee on Aviation to drill the minister on all issues concerning the sector, including the N225million bullet proof vehicles scandal and rising air crashes in the country.
Senate’s position yesterday was sequel to a motion moved to that effect by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, as contained in the Order Paper.

In the motion entitled: “Resciding Senate Resolution on the invitation of the Minister of Aviation to brief the Senate,” Ndoma-Egba said the Senate had resolved at its executive session last week that the earlier planned briefing by the minister before the Senate should be held by its Committee on Aviation.

Ndoma-Egba, who raised the motion through order 53(6) of the Senate standing rules empowering it to reverse itself on any matter earlier decided upon, added that fresh operational issues cropping up in the aviation sector under the supervision of the minister after Senate’s resolution of October 8, requires holistic investigation of the sector which can best be handled at committee level and not at plenary.

Also, the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, while seconding the motion said: “Indeed, at the executive session last week, senators were unanimous that the earlier motion on the minister should be rescinded by mandating its Committee on Aviation to drill the minister on various problems afflicting the aviation sector.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who later spoke with newsmen on the Senate’s decision, said fresh issues had arose after the Associated Airline crash which,  according to him, required a holistic and well programmed investigation that can best be handled at committee level, not plenary.
He said: “As it is the practice of the Senate, such investigation is better handled by the committee and report submitted to the plenary for consideration.
“This is exactly what the Senate has just done this afternoon (yesterday) and I think it is in order; it is proper and it is in accordance with the Senate Rules.”
He, however, failed to say when exactly the minister would be appearing before his committee as directed by the Senate.
But the Senate’s new position contradicted its reason for not having the minister on focus at plenary session last week as explained by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary session last week Thursday.
Ekweremadu had informed his colleagues during plenary last Thursday when Oduah was earlier scheduled to appear before the Senate that the minister and her team would not be received again on that day because Mark was not around.
He said Mark had signified his intention to personally preside over the session before the national assignment of leading the Nigerian delegation to Dubai for the final match of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Competition came his way.
Ekweremadu had said then: “I think we should oblige the Senate President that opportunity to preside over the session because he was passionate about it and he would have been around today but for the last-minute national assignment given to him.”

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