—-As IGP, Service Chiefs failed to brief senate on emergency rule
BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA – THE landing problem of the Saudi Arabia Cargo Aircraft at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport yesterday stalled the appearance of the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah to the senate on issues surrounding aviation sector and some of the recent air mishaps that have claimed lots of lives in the country.
Meantime, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika and his counterpart in navy Vice Admiral dele Ezeoba were among the security chiefs that also could not appear before senate to give situation reports on the security situation in the country as it concerns the emergency rule in the three states of the North East.
Princess Odua and the Chief Executive Officers of parastals under the aviation Ministry were scheduled for the third time to appear before the senate on Thursday but the landing problem of the Saudi Arabia cargo aircraft made them to once again reschedule their appearance to Tuesday next week.
Briefing journalists on the reason that stalled the appearance of the minister, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation Hope Uzodinma said that because of the closure of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, princess Odua was unable to honour the invitation.
Senator Uzodinma said, “Definitely, we will not be able to continue today because of the emergency development. The 747 aircraft cargo aircraft belonging to Saudi Arabia airline has some problems landing into Abuja and as result, the runway is closed and has disrupted flight operations since morning.
“So all the agencies in the aviation ministry with their chief executives are all there battling to ensure that the aircraft is removed from the runway and normal operations start again. Julius Berger has been invited; they are working with Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB and the rest of them and senior officers FAAN, NCAA.
“So it has become very necessary that we allow them sufficient time solve that national challenge. We have been able to take Tuesday, which is the next legislative day, after session by 2 o’clock to now have the minister and her team in audience. So it is necessary to let you know so that the story is said in the right perspective. That is how we have seen it and that is where we are now.”
It will be recalled that the first time the minister was billed to appear before the senate, the U-17 World cup stalled it because the Senate President David Mark who had indicated interest in being present at the senate was nominated to lead the Federal Government delegation to Saudi Arabia, though Mark had flight challenges and could not make the trip.
The second time was when the senate rescinded its decision that the minister should appear at the planary and directed that she rather appear before the Senate Committee on Aviation.
On the absence of the security chiefs, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe said, “The planned briefing by the Service Chiefs and the heads of the other security agencies including the Inspector General of Police could not hold because it is a very delicate issue and we found that some of the heads of these agencies and military formations were not available.
“We felt that what we are trying to get is of sufficient importance to the nation that we felt that we would not get the comprehensive briefing if those persons were not present. Therefore we resolved to postpone the briefing to another legislative day and we will also meet and give another date to the Service Chiefs to come to brief us.”
Senator Abaribe however, said that the Security Chiefs did not give reasons for their absence, but that “They did not say so. They just felt that there were some logistic reasons that made them not to be available and that that is why we decided to postpone the briefing.”
Commenting on the feelings of the senate on the recent attack in Maiduguri, Senator Abaribe said, “You will recall that they were to come to brief us on Tuesday and we postponed it till today to be able to also have briefing on what happened last Monday.
“Of course, the Senate does not feel particularly happy about. We are very worried about the security situation and that is why we wanted a firsthand briefing and that is the reason we felt that we would not want to do briefing that some units would do the briefing and some would say let us come later.
“We want everybody to be available so that we can get a comprehensive view of it. The Senate is very worried about what happened in Maiduguri.”
on the pending 2014 budget and the controversy over the benchmark by the two legislative chambers, he said, “Well the committee (Conference Committee) has not met principally because of the members of the committee nominated by the House of Representatives.
“I think a couple of them are not in the country and the House had to have a time to nominate other people in their place and we are expecting that will be done as soon as possible and once that is done we will meet and definitely we will come to a very quick inclusion on the matter because we are also worried that the budget is still not available to the National Assembly and to Nigerians as a whole.”