How ministers, presidential panel pressured Jonathan to sack indicted aviation minister, Stella Oduah

Stella Oduah

Fellow ministers worked hard to convince President Jonathan to sack Stella Oduah.

President Goodluck Jonathan fired Nigeria’s former aviation minister, Stella Oduah, indicted in multiple corruption cases, in response to an overwhelming local and international pressure, spiced by an unprecedented campaign by fellow cabinet members, PREMIUM TIMES has reliably learnt.

The former minister was sacked Wednesday alongside her counterparts in the ministry of police affairs, Caleb Olubolade, and Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe in a surprise cabinet shake-up. The minister of state for finance, Yerima Ngama, was also fired.

Multiple government officials and security sources said the decision to fire the aviation minister, Mrs. Oduah, whose tenure turned out the most controversial with serious cases of corruption and breach of public trust, was taken by Mr. Jonathan weekend, after reviewing extensive local and foreign concerns on the implication of retaining her.

Officials said the minister was considered so much of a liability on the administration that beyond external pressure, colleague ministers and members of a presidential panel that investigated her for corruption led the effort to convince Mr. Jonathan to fire her.

The cabinet members argued that Mrs. Oduah’s continued stay in office, despite a groundswell of evidence of corruption against her, was inflicting further damage on an administration widely accused of undermining Nigeria’s relative gains in the war against corruption.

At the forefront of that effort, our sources said were ministers, led by one from the South-East and another from the South-West, who considered Mrs. Oduah’s continuous presence in cabinet as a slight on their integrity and international profiles.

The ministers led an internal pressure group which persistently pressured Mr. Jonathan to demand Mrs. Oduah’s resignation.

Members of the presidential panel that indicted her formed the second pressure group that called for her removal. Members of the committee include former head of service of the federation, Sali Bello, National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and Air Vice-Marshal Dick Iruenabhere.

The final influence, our source said, came mainly from local and international media that consistently projected Mrs. Oduah as the face of corruption in the Jonathan administration.

“The pressure was too much on Oga,” a close aide of President Jonathan told PREMIUM TIMES. “He had thought about ignoring the pressure and possibly keep her till December but the pressure group kept pushing. Some ministers even started signalling that they would quit the administration if Stella was allowed to remain. The president had no choice than to act. He didn’t want any more embarrassment.”

Our sources said the President had planned to fire the controversial minister in January but later developed cold feet, triggering a new wave of pressure from officials who wanted her removed.

Mrs. Oduah’s troubled tenure hit notoriety last year after it became public she compelled a government agency under her watch to purchase two armoured cars for her use at an inflated cost of N255 million. The contract was neither budgeted for by government nor advertised publicly as required by the public procurement law.

Mrs. Oduah has consistently denied any wrongdoing, claiming the identified infringements were committed by her subordinates at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, whom she directed to “do the needful”- a phrase she implied as a directive that officials should follow the law in any transaction.

An investigation by the House of Representatives found the former minister culpable in the car deal and urged Mr. Jonathan to remove her from office.

The president refused to act, as he did on similar recommendations concerning other ministers considered corrupt, including the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The presidential panel Mr. Jonathan tasked to conduct a separate investigation into the car purchase also indicted Ms. Oduah, accusing her of approving a contract that exceeded the threshold of her authority as a minister.

“The panel laid the fact before the president, it was his call to take action,” a source familiar with the work of the presidential panel told PREMIUM TIMES. “The panel members kept pushing that action should be taken even though they did not explicitly recommend Oduah’s sack in their report.”

While he confirmed receipt of the report of the presidential panel, Mr. Jonathan failed to make the document public amid intense widespread call for the removal of the minister, his close political ally.

Our sources said the administration came under even more intense pressure after separate investigations by PREMIUM TIMES, and news website, Saharareporters, established that Mrs Oduah falsified her qualifications.

A PREMIUM TIMES investigation found her to have lied about her qualifications in the resume she presented to the Nigerian senate for her confirmation hearing. She claimed a non-existent university awarded her an honorary doctorate.

The government did not comment or act on the finding.

But as the burden of retaining her in government grew, colleague ministers and members of the panel pushed hard to have Mrs. Oduah sacked, intensifying their lobby mid-January, our sources said.

The effort was however countered by another lobby group which succeeded in buying more time for the embattled minister.

The group reportedly advised the president that should he decide to drop her, she should be fired with the minimum humiliation possible.

It is based on that counsel that she was asked to resign alongside three other colleagues, our sources said.


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  • Mani_Kay

    THE DIFFERENCE IS VERY, VERY CLEAR ……….. IN EVERYTHING PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN HAS DONE FAR, FAR BETTER AND EXCELLENTLY

    The Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani and the Yorubas have failed woefully ….. they are doomed and have become irrelevant.

    Together they have ganged up and formed Aliens Political Congress (APC) … it will not help them.

    They will continue to fail woefully.

    Their attempt to stampede the President into taking unjust actions against fellow Nigerians have failed woefully and will continue to fail.

    I recall the inglorious days of the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani (IBB) and the Yorubas (OBJ) … when reputable Nigerians where disgraced and sacrificed at the alter of injustice ……. not so today ….. President Goodluck Jonathan, the very civilized, fair minded and extremely just illustrious son of the peoples of Niger Delta and true Nigeria have changed all that.

    Never again will the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani and the Yorubas who are now ganging up under APC be allowed to rule Nigeria and exhibit their animalistic tendencies as they did in the past.

    I recall the unruly sack of Ebitu Ukiwe, Wabara, David West, Osuji and many others and I thank God that President Jonathan is vigorously cleaning up the mess the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani and the Yorubas left behind.

    Let me say it very clearly ….. there is no reason why the Yorubas and the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani should be allowed to continue voting and vying for political office in Nigeria. They are illegal aliens and should be expelled out of the country without further delay.

    The Yorubas are from Dahomey while the bulk of the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani are from Timbuktu in present day Mali.

    p/s:

    Counting from independence in 1960, Nigeria is 53years and a few months old. And from independence in 1960, the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani and the Yorubas have together ruled Nigeria for over 50 consecutive years from independence.

    At the end of their over 50 consecutive years rule of Nigeria it is not in doubt that they left a terrible mess.

    The Yorubas and the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani have ruined Nigeria for 50 consecutive years. They must allow the South-South, South-East and the Middle Belt/Christian North a period of 50 consecutive years to fix Nigeria.

    • debbeljo

      No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes –Psalm 101:7

    • debbeljo

      ..no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes –Psalm 101:7

    • fred

      Mani_kay,
      The next question is: How does/did/will President Jonathan compensate one of his “trusted” madams who helped him keep his money, President Jonathan’s part of the loot? You should know. Please tell us.

    • Issei

      Your a shameless man,man key,or what ever you call your self.as for Oga at the top,thank you for doing the needful,even though it’s a bit late in the day.

    • Bala R

      Which Christian North, the one GEJ said they didn’t vote for him, that the votes he got in the North are from the Igbos living there?

    • Lucky

      I dont think you belong here. Kindly proceed to Vanguard, that’s where you find your type.

    • h madaki

      Mani Kay,you have just make yr President Jonathan by yr dump comment to loose the remaining trust we have for him.as for the hausas/Fulani and Yoruba you castigated now, we will give you the replay you deserved, ie to boot out yr president come 2015 elections by their shear vote strength, which combined, they hold more than 60% of the total registered voters.thanks Mani Kay for doing a wonderful PR FOR APC.

    • mayorrules

      You have lost your mind you this ethnic bigot

  • Bayo

    Shameless woman.

  • Please Premium-Times and SahraReporters stop misinforming Nigerians. The BMW cars where never bought for personal use, rather for the NCAA use.

    • Lucky

      Dindinrin, was any car bought in the first place. Didn’t you hear the house report on this issue? The chasis numbers of the cars shown was different from the one on register. You people should learn to call a spade not shovel.

  • esaulogbon

    This woman is a disgrace.

  • h madaki

    Well I never thought,for one day I will commend his execellency President Jonathan,but by sacking that ethnic bigot steller odour,I believed the credibility of our president in the eyes of Nigerians I spoke with in kano and Jigawa has reached the highest ever.wallahi if Jonathan can gather the will,which I believed he can,and sack all the identified corrupt govt officials,he will get his re elections,pls sir,try and convinced us the more,and be best president to govern our country.

  • Amina

    Can the people abbusing timubu see that Jonathan had removed Oduah at long last.if only he can curb corruption.his performance will improve and.people will hall Jonathan.EfCC should probe Oduah.Enough of all this corruption.let the president stop talking about criticism and focus on ideas that will improves the lives of Nigerians that him in..economy had affected so many lives.unemployment and insecurity is on the rampage..

  • NaijaMindOfChange

    She deserve some jail term sef