*Igbo youths protest over Aviation Minister’s ordeal
By Soni Daniel & Tony Edike
As Nigeria and Israel get set to sign a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA), there were indications, last night, that President Goodluck Jonathan may not allow the embattled Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, to take part in the symbolic event slated for Tel Aviv tomorrow.
Presidency sources hinted that although Oduah left Nigeria to prepare the ground for the event, Jonathan was uncomfortable with her presence in Israel and might bar her from the spot.
Competent Presidency sources said the president was uncomfortable with the public outrage arising from the N25 million armoured vehicles said to have been bought for Oduah by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and would not want to be seen as condoning corruption with the embattled minister on his side.
One source said, “The president is mindful of the fact that he has to project Nigeria as a country which does not condone any form of graft and will not bring a tainted official of his administration to Tel Aviv for a serious event as the BASA signing ceremony.
“Before leaving for the holy land, Jonathan had made it clear that the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the two armoured cars for the minister be thoroughly investigated and a detailed report made for him to assure Nigerians and the international community that he does not tolerate any form of financial impropriety.”
The alleged scandal has reportedly split the Federal Executive Council given the prime position of the minister in the administration.
The FEC is said to be divided on whether Jonathan should offload her from the administration or allow her to remain with the image triggered by the alleged car deal. Sources said many ministers were pushing for her removal from the cabinet while those in her support think otherwise, blaming political enemies for her ordeal.
Meanwhile, business activities were, yesterday, paralyzed at the Akanu-Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, although temporarily, as hundreds of Igbo youths, under the aegis of Igbo Progressive Union (IPU), embarked on a peaceful protest against the calls for the sack of Oduah over the controversial armoured cars.
The kinsmen of the embattled minister from Ogbaru local government area of Anambra State, led by High Chief George Nwabueze, also exonerated her from any wrong doing in the purchase of the cars. Nwabueze said that the target of those calling for the head of Oduah was President Goodluck Jonathan whose second term ambition in 2015 they have vowed to stop by all means.
The protesting young men and women, who carried placards with different inscriptions, accused an unnamed personality of being behind the calls for the removal of the minister, insisting that the intention was to stop Oduah from going ahead with her transformation agenda in the aviation sector.
The group, who spoke through their leader, Emeka Agbo, a student of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, said Igbo youths were prepared to go the whole hog in ensuring that their daughter was protected, expressing dismay that some highly placed individuals were determined to rubbish the achievements of the minister.