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The aviation minister's appetite for the obscene

29 October 2013, 16:52

Stella Oduah, Nigeria's minister of aviation, has superintended a sector that had claimed the lives of over 200 Nigerians in the past two years.  In the past 3 weeks though, there's been one major crash involving Associated Airlines that claimed the lives of 20 people as well as 2 near misses. The Kabo flight that landed in Kano had hydraulics failure and passengers where found scampering to safety in the middle of the runway! It was that bad

I know numbers are meaningless in these climes but let's be realistic a bit. 200 deaths, even in the war zones of Afghanistan and Syria count for something. But these deaths in Nigeria occur in times of peace and under circumstances that are completely in the control of administrators. As such, nobody needs a marabout to tell us to start pulling the rule books and getting people in jail. In contrast, Stella Oduah, the Hon. Minister, chose to eschew responsibilities and declare these deaths "an act of God". It is no different from the position of her principal, the President, whose reaction to the horrendous living conditions in Northern Nigeria, where the threats of bombs are real and certain, was a shrug of the shoulder and declaration that terrorism happens everywhere. 

Our aviation sector have lacked basic infrastructure for decades now. Its a miracle how operators especially pilots manage to navigate our airspace. Our airports are a write off. They rank among the worst of them anywhere in the world. Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, including KLM, Lufthansa and Air France that even extend their services to that hell hole called Port Harcourt "International" airport aren't doing so because of any bilateral agreements but because business is good here. They've mitigated their risks with enormous price differentials to other countries. This is what gives a false sense of Eldorado to Stella Oduah and her ministry, making them to misinterpret business expansions as adequate infrastructure

It is this false sense of security that would necessitate the minister to order the purchase of two BMW 760 bullet-proof armoured cars for her supposed personal protection at a ridiculously overpriced value of US$1.6million and in the middle of a national mourning! The fact that children are still stowing away in the cargo compartments of our air planes doesn't matter; neither does the fact that our airports are an eyesore with little or no facilities. The fact that aviation safety is a burning issue because of abnormal crash incidents doesn't matter and neither does the fact that we lack the infrastructure to compete in a world juggling tourism with terrorism. Most importantly, it doesn't matter to her that over 200 people have died needlessly from air crashes during her tenure. Rather, it is her protection from perceived enemies within her own ministry that is paramount. Her enemies are pursuing her for doing something no other minister has done. Her enemies made her to purchase two $200 000 vehicles for $750 000 each. And did I mention that the authority that ordered those cars for her (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) is overseen by an acolyte she recently appointed barely months ago. The NCAA lack basic equipment for aviation safety; it's personnel needs training; the operators need to be properly monitored and the industry require better regulation. Stella Oduah doesn't deem these important. It is her luxury comfort in the confines of an overpriced amoured car that counts

There are some intransigences that simply can't be beat. The minister's insensitivity ranks at the very top of that list. Instead of humbling herself in the face of these monumental tragedies, she mocks the industry and the memories of the dead with her vulgar appetite for the obscene. Worse, this is happening in a country where University teachers have been on a strike action for 4 months over the poor state of our university system and where the majority of the people subsist on less than $2 per day.

I could offer Mrs. Oduah a piece of advise right now and ask her to resign immediately. But I would be hitting a wall with such "childish" presumption.  She is not contrite and will make no apologies for being so immodest. Her arrogance won't let her and her spin doctors won't stop stumbling from one lie to the other. But the truth is pregnant and all too clear. I quite understand that humility and penance are not attributes you find in many politicians, nay any politician in government around here. Instead, she sets about deploying her pea-brain media officers to clean up her oozing fart. For what its worth, Stella Oduah possesses neither the grace nor class to function as a Minister in any decent society and it is unfortunate that its characters like these that are in positions of leadership in this country.

I said I could offer the minister an advise. Scratch that. I would rather tell the president to do what he should have done days ago: Sack Stella Oduah now

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