By Chinedu Eze
Former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah said Nigeria must ensure that it does not sacrifice its development on the altar of politics if it must improve its infrastructure and better the lives of its citizens.
Oduah made this remark at the weekend in Enugu when she received an award from the Ikenga Award for Excellence Foundation for her enviable performance as Minister of Aviation and her transformation of the sector.
The former Minister noted that Nigeria would continue to lag behind if the citizens allow political sentiments to blur their focus on the need to provide necessary infrastructure in all facets of the economy so that the country would maximise its human and material resources for the benefit of all.
added that that while political interest is ephemeral, development is permanent and opportunity missed may never be regained.
On how the ongoing projects she left behind would be completed, the former minister said there is a well-articulated master plan that must be followed and which would guide all the development in the aviation industry, adding that her successor would follow the master plan and remarked that anybody who deviated from that master plan would be doing a disservice to the country.
“I believe he (her successor) would follow the master-plan to the letter; and really, anybody that does contrary to that is doing a dis- service to the Nigerian people and there must be a continuation to the development of the aviation sector. It must be mainstreamed.
“Mr. President has started mainstreaming and that should continue because we do this for a very well developed aviation sector and if you look at it really, aviation is employment generating, contributes to nation’s GDP, so why would it not been given priority? It should be given priority and Mr. President is doing that,” Oduah said.
When asked her regrets, Oduah said there was none because she was privileged to be made to serve the nation at the ministerial capacity.
“It is a privilege, like I said, to serve Nigeria; to serve my nation…a country where you have 170 million people and you were given the opportunity to serve and make a difference, you leave a footpath behind, it is not easy, it is an honor, am very grateful to Nigerians.”
She said she was elated by the award and described it as the evidence that what was done at transforming the airports was appreciated; however, she attributed all the achievements to collective efforts of her and her team.
Some other recipients of the Ikenga Award for Excellence include the former governor of Enugu State and former Secretary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo; former Minister of Information and Culture, Professor Dora Akunyili; former Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Michael Ayegbeni Oghiadomhe; and Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, an entrepreneur and owner of Innoson Motors.
While handing over the award to Oduah, Dr Nwodo said: “When Oduah was appointed Minister of Aviation I wondered within myself what she was going to do with aviation; I thought they would have made her Minister for Petroleum. But when she went to aviation, I believe in our life time we will work very hard to get a Minister of Aviation that would match her feat.”