Monday, November 4, 2013


Take it or leave it Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, the Minister of Aviation is not the most extravagant politician or minister in Nigeria. If we talk of extravagance or corruption amidst poverty, we have governors buying private jets at highly exorbitant price with public funds. If it is corruption we have governors in the country that have spent more N74 billion on 6.5km monorail. Okay bulletproof cars, there are governors who have bulletproof cars bought at highly inflated price of N600 million naira.

So why has she been singled out among the whole lot for persecution? What could it be she has done differently that other politicians or ministers have not done? While not advocating for corruption r extravagance, in a highly tribal-conscious country as ours, there is always a hidden agenda behind every move and every story. Every section of the country strives to protect its own interests and every action is always seen through the ethnically-biased shades.

So what did Oduah do to infuriate other ethnic groups in the country especially the southwest?

Well the answer is not farfetched.

Prior to Oduah coming into the Aviation Ministry, the ministry has been the sole prerogative of the southwest. Just as it was in every other ministry or agency in the country before the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan, core areas of the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the country have always been ‘shared’ between the North and the Southwest, and the chaff left for the other ethnic groups including the Southeast.

The Yorubas ran the Aviation Ministry to the ground, the same manner they ran the Power Ministry – ask Bola Ige, Olusegun Agagu, Femi Fani-Kayode etc. While they were in the helm of affairs, contracts were awarded only to themselves, it came to a climax with the concession of the Murtala Mohammed Airport to disgraced the southwest businessman Wale Babalakin. Amidst this was the deliberate effort to shut the Igbos out of affairs in the country and from the outside world. The economic growth of the Southeast was deliberately stunted by successive federal governments of Nigeria with the active participation of Yoruba and Hausa Ministers of Aviation, by refusing to allow a single international airport in one of the core regions of the country. Whereas every other region of Nigeria had one, two or three international airports, for decades, the Igbos suffered the ignominy and hardship of having to travel to other regions of the country, especially the Southwest in order to get a flight out of the country. This was an injustice that every other Nigerian was happy and comfortable with. Igbo businessmen suffered the most. They are made to suffer the hardship and cost of transporting their goods from Lagos to the South in horrible roads during journals that take more than 10 hours.

Now enters Stella Oduah.

Stella Oduah pursued the internationalisation of the Enugu Airport with unprecedented vigour. When it became a reality in August 2013 that the Igbos after decades of suppression finally has an international airport, the batteries of attack were let lose. All the attack dogs in the Southwest and the North were sent after her with a directive – you must find something to tarnish her image and get her out that ministry.

Most Southwestern-based news media, who at first were reluctant to report the historic news, after a couple days tried as much as they could to downplay the importance of the achievement. I recall a report by Punch blandly titled “International Airport”.

The first salvo was however launched by the governor of Kano State, Musa Kwankwanso who alleged that the minister had neglected airports in the north, especially the Kano Airport in favour of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport. While that did not hold enough water, various other reports castigating Stella Odua were sponsored.

While, all these were going on, there came an effort to frustrate operations at Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, because allegedly it has not been gazetted by the Federal Government. While that was promptly refuted by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) , the Aviation Ministry agency in charge, it revealed the animosity and envy towards the newly born Akanu Ibiam International Airport.

The greatest fear of the southwest was that if Stella Oduah remains as the Minister of Avaition, Akanu Ibiam International Airport may become a big threat to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, by diverting a lot of potential passengers from it. It is known that the Igbos are the most widely travelled in Nigeria, and the availability of a vibrant and functional international airport in the region will drastically affect the patronage of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.

So far only the Ethiopian Airlines has operational licence to fly in and out of the Enugu Airport, however, other airlines are in various stages of getting operational licences from the Aviation Ministry.

Therefore, in the eyes of the Yorubas this is the right time to get rid of Stella Oduah from the Ministry of Aviation before she wrecks more havoc to the collective interests of the Southwest.