By WALE AKINOLA & Theodore OPARA
More facts emerged, at the weekend, lending credence to the claim that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may have bought the two controversial $1.6 million (approximately N255 million) BMW bullet proof cars for the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, amid the parastatal’s precarious financial situation.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the NCAA did not have the cash backing and hence the deal with Coscharis Motors and First Bank of Nigeria to finance the purchase was negotiated on hire purchase basis.
“There is no way NCAA could have raised that kind of money in one lump sum. Therefore when the pressure became unbearable that the vehicles had to be bought for the minister, the only option open to us was to explore how it could be done on hire purchase”, an NCAA source said.
The source said the deal was sealed based on anticipatory payment.
Explaining why the minister zeroed-in on NCAA to buy the vehicles, the source explained that it is one of the hard currency generating aviation agencies and payment for the vehicles was denominated in dollars.
“NCAA is in this trouble because we are one of the hard currency generating aviation agencies. That is why the minister zeroed-in on us to buy the two cars because we were made to understand that payment had to be made in dollars,” the source said.
“But it wasn’t as if the NCAA could afford to pay for the cars, being expensive as they are. We have many issues contending for funds including training of staff abroad on aircraft air worthiness and so on.
“We entered into anticipating payment for the cars such that the payment is spreed over a period of time based on our projections. The source explained that it may take several months for the parastatal to fully pay for the vehicles.”
Meanwhile, the exact cost of the two controversial BMW cars for the Aviation Minister, at the weekend, remained shrouded in secrecy.
Experts said the cost of the two cars should not have been more than $400,000 including freight charges as against the $1.6 million paid by the NCAA.
The insinuation was that the vehicles were grossly over-priced.
Efforts to get Coscharis Motors, the BMW representative in Nigeria, to speak on the matter proved abortive as the president of the company, Dr. Cosmas Maduka, was said to be on a foreign trip to South-Africa and China.
A Coscharis source said, “I am not competent to speak on the matter because the issue of armoured vehicles is strictly not for every staff, as most customers would not like people to know that their vehicles are armoured. It is usually confidential.”
In the mean time, an expert argued that given the level of insecurity in the country, there was nothing wrong in armouring a vehicle for a minister especially given the part of the country the Aviation Minister comes from, saying what was worrisome was the amount being quoted for the two vehicles for Oduah.