by Wale Odunsi
Ms. Oduah was bold to single-handedly spend N255million of our collective wealth in a frivolous manner and then say it is for the use of the establishment. Going by the outcry trailing the purchase, what if her successor decides to do without the “utility vehicles”?
The stench of arrogance, lies, deceit and corruption in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan oozes that no amount of image-laundering cologne will cure. Loyalists and aides never forget to remind us that Mr. Jonathan is a good man, a gentleman, a respecter of rule of law, God-sent leader, bla bla. But why would a man with such wonderful attributes that would make Basir Al-Assad commit suicide, continue to flirt around terrible individuals? Do I perceive a case of rewarding undiluted loyalty or unequaled friendship?I am very amazed. In those days, questionable characters in whatever arm of government possess a bit of decorum. Many of them, albeit renowned brigands stole with a measure of sympathy. They looted in a way only their family members, concubines, close staff and associates found out. The masses were kept in the dark, at least most of the time. Fast forward to 2013, all sectors, including the ever-green GRAFT, have undergone huge transformation, robust growth and tremendous development, which are visible to every Nigerian at home and in the Diaspora. Not-minding the earlier crashes and near-crashes witnessed under her tenure, the country’s Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, thought it wise or was (wrongly) advised to forestall any fatality by muzzling out a personal security vote from parastatals saddled with the responsibility of ensuring both personal security and collective safety of millions of travelers flying the nation’s airspace! More appalling, is the fact that the latest scandal for which she has been indicted occurred only a month before the recent Associated Airlines accident that killed, sorry, re-killed a former governor and 14 others. That our oyinbo-accent sister, daughter, wife and mother, needs more protection than her boss, President Jonathan, is not in any way an acceptable argument; that one requires two cars worth $1.6m (N255million) to effectively discharge official duties is ridiculous; that a government official finds it not abnormal to order agencies under her watch to cough out a quarter of a billion is shameful; that we had to hear the gist from the media further shows the level of insecurity and cover-up in governance; that the accused is still comfortable being the occupier of the office is a confirmation that integrity is no longer a watchword for service; that the President may not find this scandal enough reason to give the Minister the boot is even ridiculous and is paining me to the marrow! Justifying the purchase, Joe Obi, the Minister’s media assistant, stated that his principal inherited a lot of baggage in terms of the concessions and lease agreements which were not in the interest of the government and people of Nigeria. To this end, according to him, adequate security cannot be handled with kid gloves. I ask: Why did it take more than two years after her swearing-in (July 2, 2011) to realize the urgency of self-protection from “imminent threat”? For Ms. Oduah’s information, it is not only her ministry supposed enemies of the state are targeting. The Ministries of Finance and Agriculture are also on the radar of the bad guys; probably under more threat when compared to hers. She’s mistaken to think that her confirmation that she requested the purchase of the automobiles portray her as sincere person. No ma’m, there is absolutely nothing to explain; records, receipts, documents and statements from aggrieved personnel gave you away already. Federal Government freaks out when opposition leaders, organized Labour, commentators and activists applaud the Academic Staff of Universities Union (ASUU) for sustaining the ongoing action. But from the picture its reckless officials paint, isn’t it clear that contrary to the “we cannot afford your demands” claim, the country can in fact fulfill the contentious 2009 agreement? The striking lecturers are no idiots; they see, hear and read about the countless financial mismanagement and wastage by the same people who claim no money! In their tiny brain of illusion, our leaders think that they are smooth, sleek and smart. The sad part, however, is that a number of them are not only fools, but are living in fools’ paradise yet they know not. I mean if they are as brilliant as on paper, how is it possible that less-educated people catch them by the wrist? How is it possible that despite diversionary tactics, their secrets blow open eventually? Ms. Oduah was bold to single-handedly spend N255million of our collective wealth in a frivolous manner and then say it is for the use of the establishment. Going by the outcry trailing the purchase, what if her successor decides to do without the “utility vehicles”? In a clime where voodooism is still in high practice, the next Minister could reject the cars for fear that Ms. Oduah’s traducers have cast a spell on the fortified BMW 760s. As we’ve all seen, heavy cosmetic make-up can only cover the spots, blemishes and wrinkles our faces, it does not (and will never) do the magic on dishonesty, crass attitude, shady deals and corrupt tendencies. The President will do himself, his government and the nation a world of good by dropping this woman from his cabinet. I am counting on the hope that he will do this without further delay. I would not bet on it though. ——————— Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija