By HENRY UMORU
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has said President Goodluck Jonathan may become an accessory to corruption if he continues to shield Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, from the consequences of massive corruption and abuse of office over the purchase of two armoured cars at an inflated cost and without following due process.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it reached that conclusion after juxtaposing the evidence that have come out on the scandal against the actions so far taken by the President.
It said: “It has now emerged that the money spent to purchase the armoured cars was not appropriated, which is a violation of the Nigerian Constitution; that due process was not followed in buying the cars, as the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, has testified, and that the Minister – who was said to have approved the purchase – violated the law by approving an expenditure over the N100 million limit.
“These revelations make the Oduahgate a straightforward case that should have been summarily dealt with by the President. Instead, he has engaged himself in a rigmarole by setting up a diversionary administrative panel in what is now looking like an orchestrated ploy to buy time, hoping this issue will die down and the minister will escape being sanctioned.
“Unfortunately for Mr. President, Oduahgate is not just another scandal, but a referendum on his administration’s fight against corruption, and on the legacy he intends to leave in this critical area.”
APC also accused the President of thumbing his nose at Nigerians, who have expressed outrage at the action of the minister, by approving for her to travel to Israel as part of his entourage.
The party said: “No one believes the dummy that is being sold to the public, that the minister was denied access to the President in Israel. The egregious act of putting the minister on his entourage, at a time she is at the centre of a terrible scandal, calls to question the President’s sense of propriety and commitment to the war against corruption.
“This indecorous action of making a minister who is under investigation for monumental corruption and abuse of office, one of the faces of Nigeria in a foreign land, is an embarrassment to the country and its people, and a further dent on the poor image of the Jonathan’s administration.
“We condemn it most whole-heartedly. We now understand why corruption has grown wings under the Jonathan Presidency, and why the administration may well go down as the most corrupt in the country’s history.”
It said through his body language, President Jonathan is sending a signal to his ministers that it is alright to be corrupt, wondering whether the President is aware of the joke making the rounds that there are five ‘Super Ministers’ in his cabinet whom he can neither sanction nor remove, irrespective of their actions, because they are the ones ferreting funds into his war chest for 2015.
In other words, any of his ministers whom he perceives as key to his re-election can even loot Aso Rock and get away with it!
APC said, “we do not know whether this is true or not, but we do know there is no smoke without fire, and that the seeming attempt to sweep Oduahgate under the carpet lends credence to the joke.”
The party noted that because of the President’s waffling in dealing with what is a straightforward case of corruption, misguided people have now resorted to crowd hiring to protest against the growing calls for the minister to be sanctioned over the scandal – a very sad case since those being hired for such disgusting protests are the real victims of the mindless corruption that has permeated the land.
It said, “these sponsored protests are just the beginning. Next, they will either engineer or hope that a spectacular violent attack, a la Boko Haram, will occur to take attention away from the scandal. They may also charge some out-of-luck folks to court over the scandal and then say they cannot act on the issue anymore because it is subjudice.”
APC said, however, that the party, as well as other concerned groups and citizens, are closely following the developments on Oduahgate, and will not allow it to be swept under the carpet, in the interest of the millions of Nigerians who have been consigned into the lowest rung of existence by a rapacious administration.
TAPAN ask Oduah to return cars to place of purchase
Meanwhile, an association under the aegis, Tax Payers Association of Nigeria, TAPAN, yesterday, urged the embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah who is alleged to be involved in the purchase of two BMW bullet proof cars at N225 million, to as a matter of urgency, roll them to the place of purchase, just as it condemned the action, describing it as mind-boggling and a national embarrassment.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, National President, TAPAN, Mr Philip Thomas Ilukholo said, “if such a huge sum of money could be used to purchase two vehicles, it is a pointer to grand connivance between some public officers and unscrupulous contractors to loot the nation’s treasury. To this end, we call on the Minister of Aviation to roll those vehicles back because the distance from where the vehicles were purchased to the Ministry of Aviation is less than two kilometers. To us, we see that those vehicles have not be driven within two kilometers. Therefore, the way they rolled them to the Ministry of Aviation is how they should roll them back. This is our position.”