A group known as Concerned Independent Aviation Observers, CIAO, has said that there was budgetary allocation for the purchase of two armoured vehicles by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, which was approved by the National Assembly.
According to the group, the purchase of the controversial cars, which is now a subject of the administrative panel of enquiry by the Federal Government, followed due process as it was captured in the 2013 Capital Expenditure budget of the NCAA approved by the National Assembly.
The group said the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodima, and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, signed the NCAA’s capital expenditure, which contained the request for the Operational Vehicles.
The National Coordinator of CIAO, Dr. Michael Aburime, in a statement explained that the National Assembly approved the purchase of 25 operational vehicles for N240,000,000, out of which the controversial armoured cars are only two.
Aburime said the armoured cars are not for the Aviation Minister par se, but for the “operational and safety/security needs of NCAA, especially for hosting international regulatory aviation officers on official visits to Nigeria.”
He also said that due to paucity of funds, the NCAA did not engage in outright purchase of the vehicles like other government agencies but adopted lease financing to procure 52 vehicles.
According to him, “the lease financing in the NCAA was financed by First Bank Plc at monthly payment of N23,249,181. And for the 2013 expenditure, about N116,245, 905 would be paid. From the brief detail above, it becomes obvious that the NCAA did not actually pay such bogus amount of money being alleged and bandied about in public discourse by uninformed people.
“In fact, the transaction NCAA entered into is N123,754,095 less than the approved amount, as contained in ‘NCAA Capital Expenditure for 2013’.” He argued that rather than being vilified, the NCAA should be commended for demonstrating understanding of project financing and management.
“It is standard practice for public agencies like NCAA to purchase operational and administrative vehicles. So, what the NCAA did is not something exceptional. All public agencies do purchase operational vehicles and NCAA has only done the statutory thing by following due process in getting the National Assembly approval and making the process transparent by spreading the payments over time through lease financing.”
Aburime said the lesson from the purported purchase scandal is for the whole truth to come to the public glare. “We do not see any act of impropriety in the NCAA car purchase that should warrant the volley of indignation and vituperations that have erupted in the public space. NCAA is also an important member of various global aviation associations whose members do visit Nigeria periodically to verify and approve our civil aviation standards,” he added. [Vanguard]