The opposition party vowed not to allow the president sweep the scandal under the carpet.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has lambasted President Goodluck Jonathan over his handling of the N255 million car purchase scandal involving the minister of aviation, Stella Oduah.
The party said Mr Jonathan may become an accessory to corruption if he continues to shield the minister. The party’s spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, said the APC reached that conclusion after reviewing the evidence that have come out on the scandal and the actions so far taken by the president.
The party said the president’s decision to allow Mrs Oduah travel with him to Israel, while she faced investigations for ordering the purchase of two armoured cars at an inflated cost, was the clearest indication Mr Jonathan was never serious about fighting corruption.
The purchase was made by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, at the directive of Mrs Oduah, a House of Representatives investigation, confirmed Thursday. The purchase neither listed in the budget nor did it follow due process.
Mrs Oduah travelled with the president to Israel on pilgrimage last week, despite the House probe, and another investigation by a panel named by the president himself.
The presidential panel was “diversionary”, and Mr Jonathan’s plan hope is for a more severe event to overshadow the Oduah scandal, APC said, vowing not to allow the matter be swept under the carpet.
”No one believes the dummy that is being sold to the public, that the minister was denied access to the President in Israel,” the APC said in a statement Sunday.
“The egregious act of putting the minister on his entourage, at a time she is at the centre of a terrible scandal, calls to question the president’s sense of propriety and his commitment to the war against corruption.”
”This indecorous action of making a minister who is under investigation for monumental corruption and abuse of office one of the faces of Nigeria in a foreign land is an embarrassment to the country and its people, and a further dent on the poor image of the Jonathan Administration.”
The party “whole-heartedly” condemned Mr Jonathan’s handling of the scandal, and the particular decision to allow the minister on his entourage to Israel.
“We now understand why corruption has grown wings under the Jonathan Presidency, and why the Administration may well go down as the most corrupt in the country’s history,” APC said in a the statement signed by spokesperson, Lai Mohammed.
Mr Jonathan queried the embattled minister and she has since responded to the query, claiming to have adhered to law in the conducting the transaction.
The APC said the case was “straightforward” and should have summarily dealt with by the president.
“Instead, he has engaged himself in a rigmarole by setting up a diversionary administrative panel in what is now looking like an orchestrated ploy to buy time, hoping this issue will die down and the Minister will escape being sanctioned,” the party said.
”Unfortunately for Mr. President, Oduahgate is not just another scandal, but a referendum on his Administration’s fight against corruption, and on the legacy he intends to leave in this critical area.”
The opposition party also accused the Mr Jonathan of thumbing his nose at Nigerians, who expressed outrage at the action of the Minister, by approving for her to travel to Israel as part of his entourage.
APC said through his body language, the president was sending a signal to his ministers that it was right to be corrupt, wondering whether he was aware of the joke making the rounds that there were currently five Super Ministers in his cabinet whom he could neither sanction nor remove, irrespective of their actions, because they were the ones ferreting funds into his war chest for 2015.
“In other words, any of his ministers whom he perceives as key to his re-election can even loot Aso Rock and get away with it,” the party stressed.
”We do not know whether this is true or not, but we do know there is no smoke without fire, and that the seeming attempt to sweep Oduahgate under the carpet lends some credence to the joke.”
APC noted that because of the president’s waffling in dealing with what is a straightforward case of corruption, misguided people had now resorted to crowd hiring to protest against the growing calls for the minister to be sanctioned over the scandal – a very sad case since those being hired for such disgusting protests were the real victims of the mindless corruption that has permeated the land.
”These sponsored protests are just the beginning. Next, they will either engineer or hope that a spectacular violent attack, a la Boko Haram, will occur to take attention away from the scandal. They may also charge some out-of-luck folks to court over the scandal and then say they cannot act on the issue anymore because it is subjudice,” it said.
APC said, however, that the party as well as other concerned groups and citizens were closely following the developments on Oduahgate, and would not allow it to be swept under the carpet, “in the interest of the millions of Nigerians who have been consigned into the lowest rung of existence by a rapacious administration.”