After an initial denial by the General Manager, Corporate Communications of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Datti that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, purchased two armoured BMW cars worth N255 million for the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, her spokesman has come out to explain that indeed, the cars were purchased for the minister.
According to her Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Joel Obi, threats to Ms Oduah’s life over reforms in the aviation sector and the general insecurity in the country, led the Ministry to purchase the automobiles which cost tax payers a whopping N127. 575 million each.
Mr. Obi affirmed that when the minister came on board with her reforms, which included reversing some concessions and agreements that were not in the interest of the people and government of Nigeria, “a lot of entrenched interests felt that they had been dislocated from the sector. The minister began to receive series of threats to her life, but because of the general lack of security in the land, she did not want to raise an alarm but kept it quiet and then decided to protect herself. So those vehicles were purchased in response to the general state of security in the land and the personal threats to her life because of the giant steps she has taken to reposition the sector.”
He further added that several times, the minister had been trailed and that there were clear and present dangers to her life but they were averted or neutralised.
On the huge sums expended on the vehicles, Mr. Obi argued that they were special purpose vehicles, even as he noted that they were bought in the name of the Minister of Aviation and not in the name of Stella Oduah.
“Normally, you don’t buy one utility vehicle but you buy two at a time because you must have a back-up for public officials. The level of exposure which came with her job warranted the purchase of the vehicles. As a private citizen, she never had these vehicles,” he added.
It would be recalled that an online news portal, Saharareporters, had first broke the news to the world when it claimed that it had obtained documents which showed the paper trail of the transaction involving Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), First Bank and Coscharis Motors.
But Mr. Datti, in his denial of the report said it was all “rumours” suggesting that it was even politically motivated.
“I don’t respond to rumours… [and] as we approach 2015, people are bound to make up all sorts of stories,” he was quoted as saying just as he argued further that “This is a woman (Mrs. Oduah), who is successful and established. A woman that made her mark in oil and gas, who owned trucks, barges, and so on. What is two cars?”