Stella Oduah, former Minister of Aviation, says she deserves “national accolades” rather than vilification for her works in the aviation industry.
Oduah said this in a statement emailed to SaharaReporterson Saturday by his media team in response a SaharaReporters story on Friday on the turmoil at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos following the breakdown of four out of the five screening machines purchased by the former Minister.
A source at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had told SaharaReporters that Oduah, in company of former FAAN Director of Security, one Mr. Ogunnedo, travelled to Europe to procure the machines.
“These were not the original machines penciled down for procurement, but when Oduah came into the picture, she procured these sets of screening machines, from just a company that is not even known in aviation security” the source said.
“Since these machines were procured, they have been breaking down one after the other. The sad thing is that the spares are not available in the market and when FAAN contacted the manufacturers, we were sent to their representatives in Nigeria, who have been exploiting us. Rather than carry out repairs, FAAN engineers do cannibalisation of the equipment.”
But responding in a statement on Saturday, Oduah said the machines were functioning when they were bought, hence the real problem is poor maintenance.
“Stella Oduah deserves national accolades for revamping airports not vilification. Sometimes, silence is mistaken for guilt; hence this response to a barrage of false reports in the media, recently one on the breakdown of screening machines at our airports.
“It is important to state that these machines were procured six years ago, and fully functional at the time and after. It is welcome that it has been admitted that they were actually purchased. The refrain in the past was that there were no screening machines at our airports.
“The special feature of these screening machines is the capacity to detect explosive materials and potential threat items with the lowest possibility of a false alarm. These machines proved to be useful in ensuring security at our airports in the face of terrorism threats.
“It is on the record that these machines were installed fully functional and have been in use before now. It trounces reason that Senator Stella Oduah will now be held responsible for the breakdown of the machines, which were procured six years ago.
“This, in fact, says little of our maintenance culture, which we need to address. Maintaining public infrastructure and utility has been a major problem. Most of our public infrastructure are in decay because of a lack of proper maintenance. Should Senator Oduah be blamed for this?
“Senator Stella Oduah, as aviation minister, boldly and courageously embarked on a holistic overhauling and rehabilitation of all airports in the country. She added to the number of terminals, which were transformed from huts to hospitable facilities. She installed high-security systems at the airports, and remodelled them.
“For example, she carried out massive infrastructure rehabilitation and construction of Murtala Muhammed Airport (International terminal) and General Aviation Terminal, Nnamdi Azikiwe Intermational Airport (international terminal), Port Harcourt International Airport, and Kaduna and Margaret Ekpo International Airports, Calabar. The airports in Sokoto, Owerri, Enugu and Yola were also remodelled. All airport convenience received attention as well.
“Also, she ensured the installation of high-speed carousels, resistant to luggage jams, which put the era of endless wait for luggage at airports behind. But today most of these facilities are broken down owing to a lack of maintenance. Should she be blamed for this as well?
“Nigeria has never had an aviation minister that can match the achievements of Stella Oduah. Her records speak for themselves. Instead of vilification, she should be given national accolades for her remarkable effort in transforming our airports from dumps to human facilities.”
Back in 2013, SaharaReporters obtained documents detailing how Oduah compelled the cash-strapped Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to purchase two armoured BMW.760Li cars for her.
It was also discovered that NCAA paid approximately $1.6 million to buy the two cars from Coscharis Motors Limited in Lagos, meaning that each car cost close to $800,000. Meanwhile, our investigations with car sale companies revealed that the NCAA could have got eight, not two, BMW armoured cars for the money.
According to Vista BMW in Coconut Creek, Florida, a fully armoured BMW .760Li car built to withstand AK 47-7.62x39 ammo and lower calibre weapons costs only $162, 195. Also, a quote provided by the armoured car ballistic division of the International Armoring Corporation in Centerville, Utah revealed that each of the BMW cars could have been provided to the NCAA for $200,000 plus the cost of shipping to Nigeria.