August 12, 2013

Aviation ministry not afraid of probe – Oduah


ABUJA — The Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has declared the readiness of her ministry to face any probe over recently awarded contracts and completed projects.

This was disclosed, weekend, by the minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Joe Obi, while speaking to Vanguard.

Obi said: “The ministry is not afraid of any probe because it has nothing to hide. All the contracts in the aviation sector were awarded and executed very transparently. “

He was responding to a recent call by the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, urging the Senate to probe the ministry.

According to him, “We know we are answerable to the National Assembly which also includes the Senate. If they invite us to explain how contracts in the sector were awarded or executed, we would gladly do so.  But of course, the important thing to know is that we are not afraid of any probe. We have no skeletons in our cupboard.”

Obi also dismissed fears that the nation might lose its US Federal Aviation Administration’s, FAA, category one certification, arguing that this was not possible because the nation had sustained and even exceeded the minimum requirements laid down for attainment of that status.

Responding to another question on the review of the nation’s aviation policy as it pertained to the Aviation Act of 2006, he said: “As good as the 2006 Aviation Act is, it is inadequate to cope with modern developments in the sector where technology changes by the minute. A lot of developments have taken place since that Act was enacted in 2006.

“We cannot be seen to be oblivious of the current trends. So, we have to make our laws to address some of the emerging challenges in the sector. This is the whole essence of the civil aviation policy that has just been reviewed.

”Policies are not made to suit the preferences and idiosyncrasies of individuals and groups. They are made to serve the interest of the sector and the nation. Those who are complaining about the new aviation policy are just crying wolf where there is none.

“They are hiding behind the little finger to protect their own individual and group interests to the detriment of the sector and the nation. The civil aviation policy is a product of rigorous consultation and work which was put together by experts. They cannot dismiss what was done by experts after a lot of consultations.”

On the call for the scrapping of the ministry, he said the Federal Government would not be blackmailed into doing what was not right, adding that government knew what it was doing.

He said it was not in the place of Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, to call for scrapping of the Aviation Ministry or any other ministry for that matter.

According to him, government is fully in charge.

It would be recalled that the House of Representatives had two weeks ago declared its intention to probe the ministry over some recently awarded contracts and projects.

Chairman, House Committee on Anti-corruption, National Ethics and Values, Abiodun Faleke (ACN/Lagos), had told journalists that the contracts came under scrutiny, following petitions which alleged that the Ministry, in collaboration with the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, abused the rule of selective tendering and awarded several contracts without subjecting them to competitive bidding.

The lawmaker further alleged that the ministry awarded one of the contracts worth N12.8 billion without advertising it.