Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The House of Representatives on Tuesday, after returning from its sallah break, mandated its Committee on Aviation to carryout a holistic investigate the purchase of two BMW bulletproof cars at the cost of $1.6 million by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for Princess Stella Oduah, minister of aviation, and report to the House within one week.
It also resolved to investigate the renovation work that has been carried out on the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State in order to ascertain whether the job was done as specified in the contract agreement.
Standing on a matter of urgent public importance, Hon. Samson Osagie, who submitted on the floor of the House that the nation has been inundated with the news of the purchase, expressed the concern of the House.
“Given the poverty and unemployment ravaging our dear nation and its people, it will be absurd, unthinkable and indeed unpatriotic for an agency of the government to connive with its political head to incur such an expenditure simply for the comfort and safety of one public officer
“The furore generated by the said matter (has) left tongue wagging as to the sincerity and objectivity of this administration’s stand on fight against corruption as again reemphasised by Mr. President’s nationwide broadcast on October 1is, 2013… just three weeks ago,” he said.
Osagie further pointed out that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal commission (RMAFC) was elaborate on recommendation as to the way public officers of the nation are to be catered for in terms of salaries and emoluments, housing and motor vehicles, which recommendations have been passed into law by the National Assembly.
The House resolved that the investigation is aimed at finding, if the purchase of the cars was authorised by any appropriation law, and whether NACC has been complying with the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) on the internal generated revenue (IGR).
It also provided specific references like the veracity to the claim that the purchase of the two cars were actually made; whether the minister is entitled to such vehicle under any law in Nigeria; and whether the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and all the anti corruption agencies are not bound to investigate and prosecute all those that are involved, if the purchase of the cars was authorised by any appropriation law.
It, however, reserved the right for President Goodluck Jonathan to decide to retain the services of the minister and those involved in the matter, irrespective of the outcome of the investigation.
Meanwhile, the decision to investigate the Aminu Kano Airport follows an allegation by Hon. Aliyu Sani Madaki that the Federal Ministry of Aviation is frustrating the economic activities in the north by denying international airlines the use of the Kano-based airport and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
Based on a motion Madaki raised under matters of urgent public importance, the House, which also mandated an ad hoc committee to investigate the blocking of Qatar Airline by the aviation ministry to land on the said airports, gave the committee eight (8) weeks to report back.
Having noted the authority of the ministry to grant landing rights to foreign airlines to operate within the nation, the House not only observed that the ministry had earlier in the year blocked Emirates, Etihad and Turkish airlines from landing in the two airports, but also extended same to Qatar Airlines.
“Recall that between June 24 and 25, 2013, a detail bilateral air services negotiation was held in Doha between the government of Nigeria and the Qatar officials, where the Qatar presented two options to the Nigerian side to be granted additional landing permit sto Kano and Abuja. Further recall that one of the options is that Qatar be granted 21-week frequencies to Lagos and 14-week frequencies to Kano and Abuja,” Madaki said.
Madaki expressed disappointment that Qatar’s request was rejected by the Nigerian delegation, which insisted that additional frequencies could be granted to the airline on BASA rights, if it operates Enugu and Port Harcourt as entry points.
He further noted that “Qatar Airline demanded for 39 additional landing permit apart from the existing 14, which they operate from Lagos route, making 49 landing rights, and invariably included extending the flight to Kano and Abuja… this, the Nigerian delegation refused and instead, directed the Qatar Airline to use Enugu and Port Harcourt airports.
“Blocking the airline has crippled the economic prospect of the north as that have pushed many international traders out of business. The way the ministry Has decided to treat the Kano and Abuja international airports with disdain so as to frustrate business activities in the north generally,” he alleged.