2 February 2014

Nigeria: Cabinet Reshuffle - Stella Oduah Rallies Aviation Stakeholders for Survival

As rumours of President Goodluck Jonathan reshuffling his cabinet and dropping minister of aviation Princess Stella Oduah continue to spread, the minister has convened an aviation stakeholders' summit to garner more support.

LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that the summit which was held in Lagos was designed to get a favourable report from the industry players, which she intended to present to the president to show that she still enjoys the support of the stakeholders.

It was also learnt that the summit was aimed at identifying her opponents and easing them out of their management positions.

Some of the stakeholders told our correspondents that the three-day event organised last week by the aviation ministry in Lagos for top management staff of the sector was to curry their favour in her bid to save her job and get stakeholders' endorsement for her blueprint on moving aviation industry forward.

A top management official of the sector who attended the forum said: "In fact, calculations to avert being dropped in the president's reshuffle cannot be ruled out in the entire process. There was an attendance register opened for those who attended the forum and they were from the rank of GM, AGM, directors and CEOs of parastatals under the ministry.

"That is normal anyway, but we learnt her aides came for the register after the meeting. That means those averse to this plans could get the boot," he said.

It was also learnt that the event presented a perfect opportunity for the minister to reach out to industry stakeholders and seek their support for some of her programmes.

The minister presented "the Aviation Road map", which is a document that showcases projects and programmes aimed at taking the nation's aviation industry to the next level.

She also used the opportunity to appeal to stakeholders to support the programmes that will result in a turnaround in the fortunes of the industry.

The event was rounded off on Wednesday night with the "Investment Forum" which was sponsored by Diamond Bank Plc.

Another senior management staff from one of the aviation parastatals who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity confirmed that he had to attend the event because he was told it was compulsory for all aviation senior employees to be present.

Although he did not say the likely sanctions that may befall those unable to attend the event, he said fear had gripped the industry.

Obviously backing the minister's desire to raise the bar in the sector, the deputy director, planning, research and statistics, Ministry of Aviation, Dr Olusegun Adekunle, presented at the "Investment forum" a programme highlighting the selling point of the aviation industry, especially in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

He emphasized that the authority has a lot of available land for investments within the airports across the country.

He harped on the Aerotropolis project and the designation of airports as cargo airports which are essentially cargo terminals for fresh produce and cash crops production, processing and storage and transportation and their potential to enable the aviation industry contribute positively to the nation's GDP.

According to him, the Aerotropolis project includes free trade zones, business clusters i.e. hotels, ICT hub, medical, packaging and others.

For Sheri Kyari, an aviation stakeholder, the road map was not comprehensive enough. He did not associate any political undertone with the three-day programme which was essentially to acquaint industry stakeholders with the minister's programmes.

Asked if stakeholders would prefer that the minster be redeployed or removed, he said already Oduah has started a massive infrastructure upgrade for the sector, adding that if the government decides to redeploy or remove her, it would be better to still keep her as a supervisory minister for aviation in order to ensure continuity with the programmes she already initiated.

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