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Mr. President; Please Sack the Aviation Minister!!!

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Nigerians can hardly be impressed with President Goodluck Jonathan's vow to probe last Sunday's plane crash in Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State, which killed all the 153 people on board, and residents of the affected houses. Neither would anyone pity the eccentric

Aviation Minister, Stella Odua-Ogienwonyi for shedding what apparently were crocodile tears in the wake of what is unarguably one of the worst avoidable airline disasters that struck the Nigerian aviation industry.

A few hours after the Senate called for the grounding of DANA Air, the Federal Government suspended the airline from further flying in the nation's airspace. The Ministry of Aviation, which wielded the big stick, said the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) of Dana Air had been suspended. The Spokesman for the Aviation Minister, Joe Obi said the suspension was 'indefinite.' pending when investigation would be concluded.

The government's resolve to 'carry out its investigations' is understandable; but the indefinite suspension of Dana Air's license was indeed an act of desperation, or, worse still, a product of bad advice. It is a potentially dangerous decision that otherwise invites suspicion, nay, confirmation, that the government just wanted to soothe public opinion while the Aviation Minister continues with business as usual. By the way, what purpose does suspending Dana Air's license serve? It is medicine after death!

We could not agree more with the Senate which had no kind words for the management of the aviation industry as it called for the suspension of the Director-General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren and other officials of aviation regulatory agencies to pave way for investigations into the disaster. But we urged President Jonathan to do the right thing by sacking the Aviation Minister.

In declaring three days of national mourning, President Jonathan assured Nigerians that government would unravel the cause of the incident to avert such tragic incident in future. Jonathan, who expressed his condolence to families of the victims, described the incident as tragic, unfortunate and a setback to the country because it came at a time Nigeria was intensifying effort at improving the aviation sector. 'Those of you who travel a lot, you would notice improvement going on in our airports. So, the government is totally committed to improving the quality of aviation in the country,' he said. Such empty platitudes are utter nonsense!

On her part, Stella Odua blithely and derisively promised the accident would be thoroughly investigated to determine the exact cause of the crash and prevent a similar occurrence in the future. She said that the Police, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), rescue teams from the airport, Lagos State, Ogun State and other agencies were at the crash site within minutes but no survivor was found. 'Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the passengers and the people on the ground who lost their lives in this tragedy.' While reading her speech, she paused for a minute, as tears streamed down her face.

Obviously Stella Odua is confused about which country she is talking about. The crocodile tears was hypocrisy that stinks to the high heavens. It is public knowledge that the emergency and rescue teams could not even locate the site of the crash until hours later and even the firefighters from Ogun State who arrive the scene as first responders ran out of water. Stella Odua should be reminded that in search and rescue operations, time is of the essence. Aviation industry sources have revealed that Sunday's crash was a manifestation of the confusion that has bedeviled the aviation sector, ever since she took over the helm of that Ministry. The ill-fated McDonnell Douglas MD-83 plane, sources told, has had a lengthy history of mechanical faults. It was even reported to have had a mechanical fault shortly before it departed Lagos for Calabar and then Abuja. The plane has had issues with its hydraulics and should have been grounded for repairs.

There is no gain-saying the fact that the incompetent Stella Odua is guilty of an enormous administrative cock-up. Stella Odua, learnt is distracted and has been entangled in a protracted domestic fracas with her husband, Chris Ogienwonyi, after it emerged that she engineered his sacking from the Jonathan administration. She was reportedly aided in the scheme by Godsday Orubebe who has remained one of her strongest supporters. learnt that Odua is alleged to be romantically linked involved with Orubebe and other members of the federal executive council.

There are also indications that she occasionally warms the bed of the president. In both her public and private statements, Stella Odua has been known to boast about her 'special personal relationship' with President Jonathan. 'I have the President where I want him to be,' she once boasted to her friends and cronies. This basically means she is uninterested in her own very job.

Flight delays even under clement weather have become the order of the day. Though passengers are charged exorbitant fees for tickets and other services, the chaos that is reigning in the sector was indicative of an accident waiting to happen. Imagine flight delays resulting from the inability of the airlines to pay for aviation fuel, or failure to settle outstanding purchases. Nothing like this happens in any country worthy of respect.

Her priorities in the aviation sector are ditzy and at best scattered. For her, it is business as usual; her modus operandi is all about money making. Almost all airport lounges are under reconstruction, and many of the contracts are handled by her cronies. Rather than focus on aviation safety, she saddled herself with the neighbor to neighbor project; (a campaign project for President Jonathan). Her neighbor to neighbor project is a project she stole from Chief Tony Prest, her husband`s friend.

Our findings show that the husband friend had submitted a proposal to Godsday Orubebe, under the auspices of door to door. Rather submit the proposals to the president for approval Orubebe gave the proposal to Stella Odua, who double-crossed him and went ahead to registered the project as her own. Irked by her action, Tony Prest hurriedly floated an online newspapers called I paid the bribe .com. Sources says Mr. Prest had hoped to use the medium to wage a campaign against her, but was prevailed upon to reconsider.

There can be no excuses for ineptitude in a Minister who has turned out to be a public embarrassment and a national disgrace. Stella Odua's managerial incompetence is clearly in plain sight and the facts are there for all to see. If she has found anything wrong in combining high public office with the pursuits of personal interests, then her actions at the helm of the Aviation Ministry have not reflected it. Nigerians don't need another airline disaster because the Dana Air crash was one disaster too many. At the very least, keeping Stella Odua at the head of the Aviation sector suggests poor judgment on the part of the President as things are likely going to get worse. So, what does a bold and decisive president do with a Minister who has proven to be too incompetent? Sack her! Mr. President, Please sack Stella Odua as Aviation Minister! Editorial