Hon Zakari Lafia Mohammed is the spokesman of the House of Representatives and a member of the House Committee on Aviation. In this chat, he speaks on how the committee will ensure that all necessary avenues are explored to deliver justice to Nigerians on reckless spending in government.
By Emman Ovuakporie
The Minister of Aviation is said to have gone abroad despite the N255m cars scandal involving her. Do you think her action is appropriate?
That is another serious act of impunity on the part of the minister. It is also a clear case of not taking the parliament seriously, it is rather unfortunate. All she ought to have done is to delegate her Permanent Secretary or a Director in her ministry to carry out the rituals of signing the BASA agreement and face squarely what is on ground for her. The heavens will not fall if another person signs on behalf of Nigeria. We will not stop until we get to the bottom of why such a huge sum of money was spent for vehicles.
What exactly did the National Assembly approve for the NCAA?
Take a peep at page six of their budget, we approved 5 Toyota Pickup Hilux, 16 Toyota Corolla, 5 Toyota Landcruiser Jeeps, 3 Toyota Hiace buses all at a cost of N240 million but they eventually bought 54 vehicles through the bank lease for the sum of N643 million which was financed by the bank. There was no time we discussed the issue of a lease with them during the budget defence. I do not want to preclude this investigative hearing but we will dis-passionately seek justice for all Nigerians through this investigation. Never again in the history of Nigeria will public servants take Nigerians for a ride.
But, from all indications, it appears as if the minister may not meet your deadline for the hearing as you are expected to close shop on Tuesday?
If she fails to show up we will issue a bench warrant to get her arrested.
Arrest! Has it come to that?
This is a national issue that must be properly thrashed out with the zeal of a wounded lion. If need be, we will ask the Speaker to issue a bench warrant immediately she fails to show up and she will be arrested. We’ve given her enough grace as the committee will sit on Friday, Monday and Tuesday. All those excuses given on her behalf will not hold by the time we conclude our findings.
You mentioned that NCAA officials used two budgets. What do you mean?
Yes! They are using both the approved budget and the unapproved one. In the approved one, we clearly deleted the purchase of armoured cars and, in the approved budget, armoured cars were not captured. This is a clear case of ineptitude and negligence of duty which can never be accepted by Nigerians that we represent here in the National Assembly.
But why would….?
The simple instruction we gave is that they should delete the armoured cars. We argued then that they do not need such cars to inspect perimetre fence. It is embarrassing to us and the entire country.