by Segun Odeleye
Aviation minister, Princess Stella Oduah, has recently found her voice again after the period of silence that followed the controversy last year over the purchase of bullet proof cars for her by the NCAA.
Over the weekend, Oduah hosted select journalists in Abuja and she shared with them why she thinks critics are always after her. In her opinion, it’s all about the fight she is waging against “entrenched interest in the aviation sector who, for over 38 years, have held the sector by the jugular and refused to allow any meaningful development and change take place.” She claimed that those are the people who are out to rubbish her modest efforts in the sector.
She however vowed that she won’t be distracted.
“For the over 38 years that our airports were a damning commentary on our status as part of the civilised world; or when our airspace existed without the requisite navigational equipment and facilities to make the airspace safe; this category of persons saw no evil and heard no evil while they happily clapped their ways to the banks.
“This group has carried on with bitter venom, throwing decency and honour overboard, lying and misleading the Nigerian populace even when they knew the truth because my team and I changed the game in favour of Nigeria attaining her pride of place in the comity of nations,” she said.
Oduah emphatically said that she owes no apologies. According to her, all that she owes “the entrenched, corrupt and profligate individuals and entities who have caused the serious rot in the aviation sector,” is to inform them that the current generation has seen through them and are no longer willing to tolerate their antics.”
For someone who called the press to talk, Oduah was not ready to answer any tough questions. She flatly refused to comment on the bullet-proof vehicles scandal,. Intent on only speaking about her agenda, Oduah hailed the president for his transformational policies and for taking very bold steps to addressing infrastructural challenges in order to bequeath to the next generation a nation that can compete favourably in the comity of nations and imbue our next generation with pride and patriotism.
According to Oduah, “The massive investment and the aggressive prosecution of this agenda in this regard have seen the aviation sector being transformed. Today, 22 Airports owned by the federal government are at various stages of becoming decent and world class terminals. Nigeria’s airspace has become one of the safest in the world with the deployment of modern navigational equipments and infrastructure. The oversight capacity of the whole sector has been strengthened with the relevant regulations in place and the training and retraining of personnel.
“Our National Aviation Policy has been reviewed to chart the path to a safer and secure aviation sector. The plan to make Nigeria have a national carrier is at an advanced stage of implementation. The pursuit of an aviation sector that is self sustaining is being pursued with all aggression and vigour”, she said.
She lamented that all efforts to see that the airports in the country become one of the models in the world had been resisted by these entrenched interests, but said, “We have had to confront frontally very powerful forces that have held the sector hostage. My team and I are not people who will see things going very wrong, fold our arms and complain and not lift a finger to do anything. We dared to act, convinced that it was in the national interest to do so”.