With the submission of 12 ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening on Tuesday by President Goodluck Jonathan, there are indications that Stella Oduah, the controversial Minister of Aviation, may retain her position in the Federal Executive Council, contrary to the expectations of most Nigerians.
Sources told P.M.NEWS this morning that the 12 nominees will fill the 12 vacant positions in the Federal Executive Council.
P.M.NEWS also gathered that despite the public outcry against Oduah, the President is not contemplating her removal for now.
It was gathered that apart from his conviction that the minister is doing a good job in the aviation sector, the President has also come under tremendous pressure from leading Igbo groups and personalities who argued that Oduah is being unduly persecuted.
There is also the factor of the 2015 election in the retention of Oduah in the position. Just like she did in 2011, P.M.NEWS gathered that Oduah is getting set to roll out the campaign structure of Neighbour to Neighbour for President Jonathan’s re- election.
President showed nine ministers the way out of the Federal Executive Council thereby bringing the number of vacant ministerial positions in the cabinet to 12. The mass purge came less than one month after Jonathan sacked his Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir. With this development, the President is moving close to constituting “an election cabinet” which a presidency source said was important if Jonathan intended to contest the 2015 election and win.
The affected ministers were Education, Prof Ruqayyatu Rufai; Science and Technology, Ita Okon Ekwa; Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, Environment; Hadiza Mailafia; National Planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman; and Housing, Lands and Urban Development, Ama Pepple.
The Ministers of State affected were Defence, Olushola Obada; Agriculture, Alhaji Bukar Tijani; and Power, Zainab Kuchi.
There have been agitations for the sack of Oduah over the series of scandals that have dogged her tenure as a minister. There was a general uproar last year when information emerged that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA a parastatal under the Aviation Ministry bought two armoured BMW cars for at the price of N255 million.
Joe Obi, a media aide to the Minister initially told the media that the cars were bought for the Minister because there were threats to her life as a result of the various reforms she has been implementing in the Aviation sector. But the Minister later denied this as she insisted that the vehicles were for the operations of the NCAA.
But after a public hearing into the controversies, the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation indicted the Minister over the purchase of the cars.
The Committe had among others said in its report that investigations revealed that there was no appropriation for the purchase of the two cars, as a proposal by the NCAA for the purchase of the two cars had previously been rejected.
The Committee also disputed claims by the Minister and the Director-General of NCAA that the vehicles were purchased under a lease agreement with First Bank because that bank testified during the public hearing that they were procured through a loan, as revealed in an agreement between NCAA and First Bank.
The Committee also said the Ministry and NCAA presented a false vehicle to it for inspection in the course of its work because while the document submitted indicated that the vehicles in question had BMW chassis numbers DW68044 and DW68032; the vehicles actually presented for inspection showed BMW chassis No. DW68044 and W68011. The committee said it was therefore unable to authenticate the identity of W68011.
The Committee concluded by asking the President to review the appointment of the Minister in its report which has been adopted wholesale by the House of Representatives.
The House also asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to carry out further investigations of government officials involved in the fraud, as well as Coscharis Motors, which supplied the cars.
The Minister however rejected the report as she insisted that due process was followed in the procurement of the vehicles, and that they were neither purchased for the Minister nor in her name.
President Jonathan also set up a three-man commitee headed by the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki to probe the car purhase scandal. Though the President told journalists last year that he has received the report, he has not taken any action on it or made it public. The scandal over the car purchase had hardly died down before the Minister was enmeshed in a certificate forgery scandal.
Sahara Reporters, an online news media had reported that its invesigations revealed that Oduah’s claim in her profile on the Federal Ministry of Aviation’s website that she obtained a Master’s degree in Business Administration from St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia in 1982, is false.
Since the news broke that she did not obtain a MBA degree from the college, several attempts had been made to edit her resume and profile on different online platforms. The Minister has refused to deny the certificate forgery allegation. But her aides had embarked on feverish alterations of the profiles of the Minister on Wikipedia and other online sources to remove the reference to the qualification following the story. There were calls for her removal following the story.
“This was the same woman who broke extant laws in buying bulletproof cars far above the allowed limits, I think something has to be done now. It is even the right time for the woman to speak out.
“If such a person that lies about her certificate can spend additional second in office, it shows how badly we have descended as a nation,” Chima Ubani, Chairman, Ikeja branch of NBA said.
Source: PM News