By Lawrence Olaoye
A group, Aviation Professionals, yesterday expressed shock at the recent statement credited to the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on aviation, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, claiming ignorance of airport remodeling project initiated by the former minister of aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.
The group in a statement said what was shocking to many observers was Onyejeocha’s volte-face over the Aviation Master Plan and in particular, the Airport Re-modeling project she now claimed ignorance of.
“She has now ‘realized’ that the remodeling project did not follow due process. Yet it was common knowledge in Aviation and legislative circles that our charming chairman of the Aviation Committee of the House of Representatives was carried along in the implementation of these laudable programmes by the erstwhile aviation minister. And, as a matter of fact, she eagerly participated and took a prominent position at the commissioning ceremonies of several of the remodeled airports round the country last year.
“This is the same airspace and airports she traversed every day and also participated in their commissioning ceremonies, contract signing ceremonies, among others, yet she now claims these were flawed.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the contract for the financing for the five new international airports under construction by CECC of China was a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and China which was signed during the state visit of President Jonathan to China last July. The financial package was signed by the Finance minister, not the Aviation minister. And before then, the contract package financed by the Chinese government had gone through all regulatory approvals, including that of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
“So, how can this be Oduah’s doing alone? The Airport Re-modeling project surprisingly can defend itself against its detractors.
“The benefits of the Airport remodeling project are so obvious for everyone to see that, it is the most widely acclaimed project of the Oduah tenure, even though it was one of several projects undertaken by the former minister.”
The group said even the most belligerent critics of Oduah could see that the project has helped to improve the poor image of Nigerian aviation as a result of crammed, dilapidated and outdated aviation terminals built 30 to 40 years ago without any further improvement to their structure.
The group said the financing for the airport remodeling project was duly budgeted for, necessary approvals were obtained and required documentations done. The financing, according to the group, came from multiple sources – Aviation ministry capital budget allocation, internally generated revenue and loans.
It is on record that the Oduah’s tenure increased government revenue generated by aviation agencies by more than 1,000 per cent that is 10 fold, which is unprecedented in the country’s Aviation history.
The group said Onyejeocha and her ilk have been trying to twist the recent statement made by Dr Sam Ortom that government was finding it a bit difficult to continue to finance projects under the Aviation
master plan including the remodeling project. Clearly, the supervising Aviation minister never suggested that there was anything wrong or amiss with the financing of the projects under Oduah.
He only hinted that government may want to go on with these laudable projects at a slower pace going into an election year, 2015.