June 7, 2014 – A fresh scandal is threatening the Ministry of Aviation, following allegations that some agencies of the ministry have been secretly remitting money to the supervising minister, Dr. Samuel Ortom.
The revelation came after the recent discovery that the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah raked up a debt of N174 billion for the ministry over contracts that were not executed.
Oduah was sacked after a sustained outcry over the purchase of bullet proof cars for her by agencies of the ministry.
It is not clear if all the agencies of the ministry are involved in the alleged payments to the supervising Minister. Agencies under the ministry are: Nigerian metrological agencies, Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and the Accident Investigation Bureau.
A source in one of the agencies, who does not want to be named because of the fear of what happened to the whistle blower that exposed the car purchase during Stella Odua’s tenure, said agencies in the ministry are contributing as much as N25 million monthly towards the campaign funds of Ortom, who has indicated interest in becoming the governor of his home state, Benue.
“There is so much apprehension among the management of the agencies especially now that the Senate and House committees have discovered the latest about the N174 billion debt. They are kind of worried about how to continue making the scheduled payments without getting into trouble. Their concern is worsened by this thing the National Assembly is discovering. You know they will likely order more probes and these moneys going to the minister would be exposed.” The source said.
According to the source, there are members of management of these agencies who suspect the N174billion debt was brought into public domain in order to draw attention to the dealings going on in the ministry.
The Senator Hope Uzodinma led Senate Committee on Aviation had demanded from Dr. Ortom on the N174 billion debt incurred by the ministry since 2011 after it emerged that the expenditure was not within the ministry’s budgetary framework while the minister had also kept the loan secret.
The House Committee on Aviation, led by its chairman, Nkiru Onyejeocha also questioned the secrecy around what it termed the huge debt incurred by the Ministry of Aviation that it described as ‘unsustainable’.
The agencies approached to comment on this report declined comment claiming that there was no receipt to back up the allegations.
By Our Correspondent