By SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH & OKEY NDIRIBE
Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, yesterday, took up the incumbent, Stella Oduah, describing her as being unnecessarily petty in the handling of issues relating to the industry.
Fani-Kayode, who was responding to remarks made by Oduah against him, said that the incumbent Aviation minister and not him was the one who should bury her head in shame over the shambolic handling of the industry since her appointment.
Oduah had yesterday in Abuja dismissed Mr. Fani-Kayode over his ignorance, adding that his comments on the aviation sector conveyed the impression that he was under an unnatural influence.
She spoke in response to a reporter’s question during the opening ceremony of the African Regional Conference of Civil Aviation Navigation Organisation, CANSO, in Abuja.
She further stated that working with CANSO over the years had been fulfilling and enriching.
Said she: “The nation has had its fair share of challenges in the aviation sector but has adopted an attitude of refusing to relent in moving forward as a key strategy for improvement in the sector.”
According to her: “Aviation which is one of the drivers of the economy has ensured that we achieve double digit economic growth.”
However, Fani- Kayode said that the remarks by the minister against him were uncalled for, malicious and petty.
“She reportedly said that I should bow my head in shame, suggested that I was “speaking out of context’’ in my essay where I called for her resignation and that I spoke under some “influence of something or other.”
His words: “My advice and counsel to her is to grow up and stop being petty. She is meant to talk like someone who befits her office and not like a market woman.
“I do not like joining issues with women publicly which is why I was very gentle with her in my essay though I made my point. But this particular woman is endangering the lives of our people with her incompetence and insensitivity and we cannot just keep quiet.
“This is a woman under whose watch almost 200 people have been killed as Aviation Minister and instead of focusing on how to save lives her obsession has become smearing and abusing Femi Fani-Kayode.
“This is a woman who only yesterday told Nigerians that ‘accidents are inevitable’ and that they were ‘acts of God.’ This is a woman who thinks more about how her headscarf looks, her jewellery and the jewellery of others more than she does about protecting Nigerian air travellers.
“If anyone should bury her head in shame it is her and not me. After just under 200 of our fellow citizens have been killed under her watch instead of abusing her critics and those of us that have expressed our concern and offered our advise she should be seeking repentance from God and tendering her resignation.
“She should be attempting to encourage the Nigerian people and assuage their fears rather than indulging in petty and cheap sideshots and a futile press war.
“Instead of comforting the families of those that were lost she is opening her mouth and abusing me. What a shame. Under her tenure we have beautiful terminals but deadly and blood-soaked skies. Our skies have become a death trap because she really doesn’t care.
“My advice to her is to shut up, get serious and focus on doing her job rather than attempting to smear me with her filthy lies and malicious innuendos.
“I raised some serious issues in that essay that was clearly above her education level and I avoided personal insults.
“That is what civilised people do. She should learn from that and address the issues that were raised rather than spend her time trying to kill the messenger. When someone says that God is the author of fatal crashes you know that it is not the same God that we worship as that person.
“It is the devil that causes accidents and kills people and not God. You can say that a fatal accident is an act of God only if the devil is your god.
“When I speak and write I am under the influence of one thing and one thing alone- the Spirit of the Living God who sees through her and who knows her for what she is.
“She is the one that is under the influence of one thing or the other and not me. She is the one whose hands are filled with blood. She is the one that must bury her head in shame and no-one else. I will pray for her because she needs it and I will pray for Nigeria too. May God deliver us from these people,” Fani-Kayode added.
Earlier, the Aviation Minister, Mrs Stella Oduah had stated that the transformation agenda of the present administration was anchored on a road map for the aviation industry.
Said she: “The thrust of this road map is safety, safety and security.”
She further said that an important aspect of the strategy for developing the nation’s aviation sector is infrastructural development.”
According to her, the Federal Government through the Nigeria Air Space Management Agency, NAMA, had embarked on the re-organisation of the sector.
She cited the execution of the Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria, TRACON, project under NAMA as one of the achievements of the present administration.
“The completion of the project has resulted in other benefits like radio coverage of the nation’s airspace. NAMA has put all these in place with the assistance of the Federal Government.”
She, however, said that her ministry would continue to partner with the nation’s political leadership to achieve its goals.
In his own speech at the occasion, the Managing Director of NAMA, Nnamdi Udo showered praises on the Federal Government for transforming the nation’s air traffic navigation services, adding that given the technology Nigeria had put in place, the nation had keyed into the role of making aviation in the Africa region a seamless process.
In his own remarks on the occasion, CANSO Director-General Mr Jeff Poole outlined the organisation’s vision to improve aviation safety and achieve seamless airspace across Africa.