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Oduahgate: Don’t Use Politics To Justify Corruption, APC Warns

Embattled former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah

Ayo Balogun, Lagos

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned against any attempt by the unimaginative spin doctors of the Aviation Ministry to use politics as a cover for the corruption scandal surrounding the illegal purchase of two armoured cars for the Minister of Aviation.

Embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah

Embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah

In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was most unconscionable for anyone to blame the supposed opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election in 2015 as the reason for the widespread outcry against the monumental corruption and abuse of office engendered by the scandal.

It said that the opposition, in particular, should not be blamed for the justifiable indignation of most Nigerians to the corruption scandal, as Yakubu Dati, who goes by the nebulous title of ‘Coordinating Spokesperson for the Aviation Ministry’ tried to do in his winding postulation on the scandal.

”What Dati and his co-spin doctors tried to do is to play on President Jonathan’s insecurity as far as 2015 elections are concerned. This is very insulting not only to Nigerians but also to President Jonathan himself, and it will not sell. After all, attempts to blame the opposition for the lingering ASUU strike has also failed. In any case, what is the business of a public servant, who is supposed to be apolitical, about whether a President is re-elected or not?

”We in the APC have not joined the fray over the Oduahgate scandal since it broke out because we thought this was a straightforward case of corruption and abuse of office that should be summarily dealt with. But President Jonathan has again failed to live up to expectation, thus allowing all manners of clowns to seek to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians in the name of defending the indefensible,” APC said.

The party wondered why President Jonathan would engage in a diversionary and exculpatory strategy of setting up a panel to investigate the scandal, when there were statutory bodies that were supposed to do so.

”There is precedence on how to handle such a matter. In case President Jonathan has forgotten, his then boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, sacked Adenike Grange and Gabriel Aduku, Minister of Health and Minister of State for Health respectively, for spending part of the ministry’s unspent budget. The Permanent Secretary and other top officials of the ministry were also suspended when the issue broke out. No panel was set up before this action was taken.

”While many may argue that President Jonathan is only following ‘due process’ in dealing with the issue, we counter that he is only seeking to buy time while hoping that the issue will die down. The composition of the panel set up by the President itself supports our stand. It is doubtful if any of the members will act against what they perceive to be the ‘interest’ of the President on the issue,” it said.

Meanwhile, APC has condemned in strong terms the arrest of Mr. Dino Melaye and other protesters against the Oduahgate scandal in Abuja, saying the police, by their action, have signaled that they would protect corrupt public officials.

The party said the reasons given by the police, obstruction of traffic and disturbance of public peace, were apparently cooked up to justify their shameful act.

”The Nigeria Police must learn to operate in accordance with the best practices around the world. Elsewhere, the police will offer protection to peaceful protests, the type that Mr. Melaye led in Abuja, and ensure that their protests are not hijacked by hoodlums, like the hired pro-Oduah protesters who reportedly attacked those protesting against corruption and abuse of office.

”This is not what is expected of a police force that is maintained with taxpayers fund, and all those involved in harassing and arresting the anti-corruption protesters must bow their heads in shame,” APC said.


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