President Jonathan, why are they afraid of Princess Stella Oduah remaining in your cabinet as Aviation Minister?
By Chike B. Emenike
It’s obvious to discerning observers of Nigerian politics that there is a clear method to the present orchestrated attacks unleashed on the Aviation Minister Princess Stella Oduah.
Second, there is a broader ethnic dimension to this plot to discredit, defame, slander and finally remove her and some persons from, not just the topmost leadership position in the Aviation Ministry, but also in the headship of its key parastatals (agencies). As a keen follower of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda, I am shocked at the ease and impunity, not to mention the scandalous frequency, with which key members of his transformation team are attacked, hounded, persecuted and discredited by sworn foes of his administration.
Those foes include external Opposition forces in all their colours and guises, some within your party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), and within your administration.
The Opposition forces against you have, as expected, now too happily latched on to the NCAA car affair to target Oduah. What did she do? How desperate can these unprogressive groups masquerading as patriots get? Why are they so afraid of Stella; so petrified of you carrying through your Transformation Agenda and the proposed National Conference?
I think it is a mark of the high calibre and substance of this resourceful woman that there is an unprecedented massing of opposition forces to try to pry her away from serving you and our dear country in the sterling manner she has done so effectively in just two years. But you should not oblige them. People suffering from jealousy and bad -bele cannot be helped. Nigerian progress and development must come first before primordial and ethnic sentiments, as paraded by Oduah’s critics and detractors.
Once again the nation is being heated up, your administration being distracted by forces of retrogression who have, this time around, chosen to brazenly mount a blatant campaign of persecution against your aviation minister. And her crime? Refusing to let it be business as usual in her ministry; refusing to dance to the selfish tunes of all those who think they own Nigeria, those who think they enjoy monopoly of wisdom on how best to manage the aviation ministry, even after they had had their chance to transform the ministry but failed woefully through their own nepotism and ineptitude.
Most observers are not deceived by the hypocrisy of the on-going orchestrated and sustained mass media hysteria against Oduah. It is all hatchet job sponsored by parochial interest groups jealous and unhappy with you and your star minsters. It has not just started with the present storm in a tea cup over the two armoured BMW cars purchased by the NCAA for the use of the Aviation Ministry; and not for the personal and private use of the minister.
Recall that at a time in the recent past, it was Arunma Oteh when you sent the amazon to reposition the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) for improved performance and efficiency. She was promptly attacked by vested interests within the Opposition when her approach to work departed from the then prevailing “business as usual” ethic. I bet the loud call then for her sack is still pending on your table. We applauded (and still applaud) your wisdom and patriotism in ignoring such malevolent calls. Next was Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, your able Minister of Agriculture. You were maligned through him for ending the Fertilizer scam and introducing the innovative phone-to-farmers scheme; an innovation that was derided by critics because it ended “business as usual” in that important sector. Dr. Diezani Allison-Madueke came next on the Opposition’s guillotine; closely followed by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwala who, in particular, came under heavy fire for daring to plug many formers holes for looting. For keeping a tight rein over our national purse she became a marked woman; unpopular among those who abused “due process” and the call for her sack became strident and deafening at a time. Does all this not tell you something, sir?
I therefore urge you, Mr. President, to read carefully between the lines in this matter. It is also ethnic, in intent and purpose, and certainly more about you than it is about the princess of Nigeria’s aviation.
It has more to do with you, President Jonathan and 2015 elections than it is with two utility BMW cars and pick-up trucks. Isn’t it curious that these seasonal and selective accusations of corruption are always directed against star members of your cabinet? At the risk of sounding repetitive, this current case has nothing to do with Oduah; it has all to do with the relentless effort by some known interests to deny you a second term in 2015; it is about destroying you by first seeking to decimate your competent ministerial “commanders” through pockets of wars-of-attrition before the main battle in 2015. So the plot has been long in unfolding.
Workers in the Aviation Ministry and the publics that deal with them, all attest to the image of Princess Stella Oduah as a variant of the late Margaret Thatcher; a workaholic noted for prudence, sharp business acumen and zest for efficiency. Oduah is said to be a no non-sense, principled and frugal manager; a stickler for due process and an admirer and believer in the importance of professionalism and effectiveness in personnel.
It is highly unlikely that Oduah would compel any of the agencies under her supervision to aggrandize her with needless armoured vehicles; it would be out of her character. NCAA’s operational requirements as stated by the Director General of the agency could have made it necessary. For it is an undeniable fact that the sensitive and demanding portfolio Oduah handles for you, and the foreign aviation personalities she frequently hosts, all demand the highest level of security provision in these trying times. But it is not known that she ever made a demand for special vehicles to do her job. If the protocols in any of her agencies demanded that such a provision be made, would it be within her right to prevent it, as some critics are wont to imply? The parastatals under her are run under clear statutes, some of which empower them to do what the NCAA did in the case of the cars.
Note the un-purged hypocrisy of the average highly placed Nigerian critic of your administration. Most of the present army of critics of Oduah, including those in the APC, all those who yell the most, would readily demand and ride in battle tanks if they exchanged positions with the woman they so gleefully malign today. How hypocritical could certain categories of critics of your administration go?
Take the case of a man like Dino Melaye! His shameless and frequent stunts must be churning the stomach of many by now. Yet he continues to dance naked in the square every day. I learnt from a man who hails from Melaye’s part of Kogi State that this ex-Legislator has no modicum of political significance or relevance even in the ward level, not to talk of the Local Government Area in his place. It is probably the reason he found himself a job as a street-man, a johnnie walker. Since leaving the House of Representatives he has made a ludicrous career out of street protests, over any issue imaginable; as long as it would get him a mention or an appearance in the media, and possibly also pay his bills.
Like the Biblical Satan, Mr. Melaye appears to spend his days roaming to and fro the nation in search of the opportunity to be co-opted to start a street protest over any matter that concerns your administration in particular. What a way to earn a living! And quite curiously he has been silent over the recalcitrant ASUU striking lecturers.
Now sir, please ignore the enemies of progress whose sole aim appears to be to turn back the hands of the clock of progress in the substantial transformation so far recorded in the Aviation Ministry under Stella Oduah.
The entire nation of Ndigbo is proud of their daughter who has performed excellently; and creditably too, surpassing by wide margins, the tangential achievements often trumpeted by some recent loquacious occupants of the aviation ministerial seat. Sir, you owe it, not just to Ndigbo, but to all discerning Nigerians and lovers of hard work, performance and excellence, to protect Oduah and the great legacies she is working hard to leave in the Aviation sector under her watch as your minster of repute.
Without prejudice to the committee which you have set up to look into the issues involved, let nothing happen to Oduah and her job. That would gladden the hearts of your enemies. They are hoping you would do their secret desire to remove her, one of your best ministers. Do not be stampeded into taking that regrettable action.
I say this in the light of a recent happening. I am concerned that you were pressured into sacking Chief Festus Odimegwu for speaking the truth about the series of sham Census exercises we have had for decades now. How could a man be removed for speaking the truth, however unpalatable that truth might have been? Sir, you probably did it out of political exigency; to satisfy sectional interests. But now emboldened by your capitulation in agreeing to sack Odimegwu, they have chosen a new target in Stella Oduah and asking you to sack her. Princess Stella Oduah does not deserve the harassment and persecution she is being made to undergo.
•Emenike is an engineer and a freelance writer based in Lagos.
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