As Champion newspapers prepare to confer this year’s Man of the Year Award to Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah commendations have come far and wide to greet and a vast majority have agreed that indeed current recipient truly deserves the award without any minuscule of doubt.
From her remodelling exercises across the nation’s airport leading a massive infrastructure upgrade revolution to making sure that the travelling public are treated with the utmost intent to show that the customer in king, she has earned the ‘Amazon’ moniker for herself.
Strides in all her endeavours have made stakeholders come out to say that she is doing something truly unseen in the aviation industry in Nigeria in the last 30 years.
Management of Sterling Bank is one of the most recent to lauded the Minister of Aviation Princess Stella Oduah over the current efforts of remodelling some of the major airports across the country, saying that air travel has once again become an exciting venture in Nigeria.
According to the Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Yemi Adeola, the remodelling effort as being witnessed by air travellers, has added another value to the aviation sector, describing the recently commissioned airports in Lagos and Abuja as landmarks in encouraging foreign investment.
The Sterling Bank MD, while extolling the dynamism of the aviation minister in driving the aviation sector to its Eldorado, pledged the support and co-operation of the bank in the transformation agenda of the federal government.
Managing Director of Belujane Konzult, Mr. Chris Aligbe who also spoke on the award to the minister said that Champion Newspapers was spot on in the award to the minister stating that in over 36 years only Kema Chikwe as minister managed a modicum of improvement but that it all has been dwarfed by the current effort of this minister.
Aligbe, regarded as the doyen of the aviation industry in Nigeria said that what she has achieved cannot be dismissed with a hand wave and that even critics who took to the air when she started to gun down her plans have begun to see the error of their ways.
He said, “It is commendable what she has done. She has done something nobody has done before and that is a fact for how many years, for 0ove 36 years the airports been built, and nobody touched them. The only person that tried to do a little work but at the Lagos Airport was Kema Chikwe but if you compare what is going on now you will see that what Kema Chikwe tried to do has been dwarfed because she did in only Lagos.”
“That is the situation and I think there is no gainsaying it because nobody has done it before when she declared her plans people were wondering they said she was joking but now she has proved all critics wrong with the level of work done and what she has achieved in this short time. Her efforts are outstanding and nobody can take it away from her.”
Assistant Secretary General of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Alhaji Mohammed Tukur who spoke in a telephone interview with our reporter commended her and said that Oduah was most deserving of the award being given her by Champion newspapers.
He said that she learnt the ropes fast and has been able to adjust and do things that no one has done in years past.
According to Tukur, being in the industry for so long, operators have seen so many ministers come and talk shop and misappropriate of squander funds with nothing to show for it and that was why when she came with her remodelling program there was a lot of apprehension.
However, this has changed according to Tukur as the projects are coming up and beautifully well.
He further asked her to do all she can to complete the uncompleted projects and write her name in the sands of time.
“She truly deserves whatever award that is being given to her. Since she came in there are certain things, changes that you can see in terms of remodelling, modernisation and so on. If you remember far back people will eat the monies for this projects and you will not see anything. No matter what, you can see the rapid change.”
“My appeal to her is to do everything to complete her projects. I hope she would do that, she is the only minister that listens and retraces her steps to get things right, this shows she deserves commendation.”
Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah emerged the Champion Newspapers Man of the Year for 2012 after she was picked by the top echelon of the media organisation after careful consideration of all the feats she has been able to achieve in the 18 months while steering the aviation industry.
The aviation minister is the third recipient of the award after Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos and Edo state Governor, Adams Oshiomole and like the previous two awardees; she went through a thorough process against stiff competition.
Oduah who was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to pilot the affairs of the aviation industry July 4, 2011 has been excellent focusing her agenda both on safety and infrastructural development.
After assuming office, she went on to announce her roadmap with the remodelling, reconstruction of all 22 airports in the country in phases and already the remodelling has started reaching fruition with nine being over 80% complete and two commissioned.
She first of all showed her commitment to the industry by ensuring a reduction of the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) that was once arbitrary reviewed upwards to N2, 500 and which could have caused travelling public to pay more back to N1000.
Her reason? Quite simple, the travelling public needs to continue to be at the receiving end of all the unwarranted increment and this was met with applauds all over the country.
Then there was the British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways fare disparity scam where the NCAA was required by the minister to look into the disparity and from there they found how both airlines have been cheating Nigerian government and people.
The matter is still being pursued vigorously to ensure that Nigeria and its people get justice from these airlines and it was due to this situation that Oduah coined out the clause that ’the Nigerian market is open to exploration but is closed to exploitation’.
By this, she stated that Nigeria would work hand in hand with any country or business that proves to want to genuinely partner with the country to grow the sector and not those who come to exploit our market by cheating on the unsuspecting .
This she said is because Nigeria has the market and that would work entirely well for any country that wants to do business in the country.
In October 22, 2012 the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim Pius, was on ground to commission the first of the projects, the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) rebuilt from scratch to top at the frugal sum of N648million.
And Monday, January 21, 2013; the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was on ground in Abuja to commission another GAT, this time in Abuja.
Under her remodelling exercise, the Mallam Aminu Kano Airport abandoned for close to 50 years has gotten a face lift and has become a true model for air travel in the country.
Same goes for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport abandoned for 34 years but now being transformed into an epitome of aesthetics with expansion ongoing at both the D and E Fingers, new conveyor belts coming in to make the terminal work.
Other airports will be coming on line in the next couple of months from the Benin Airport, to Yola Airport and other airports that fall within the first phase of the remodelling exercise.
There is also the keen interest in convenience of passengers who use the airport with the refurbishment and replacement of facilities in and around the airport with the aim of making customers get value for being at the airport and not regret.
Oduah is also currently driving the process of re-establishing a national carrier for the country after it was unceremoniously buried in 2003 by President Olusegun Obasanjo by fiat.
According to her, this is a project close to her heart and she has received boosts from the Senate President, David Mark and his Deputy, Senator Ekweremadu, much recently and they have charged her to accomplish this task as they are solidly behind her.
Princess Oduah also initiated the Aerotropolis concept, aimed at driving the industry to be more self sustaining as well as create a back bone for other sectors by creating a water tight industry..
Even the airlines have felt her impact as she was also key in the Presidency’s decision to grant waivers on all imported aircraft and spare parts as a way of boosting and encouraging domestic airlines.
Under her watch, the Presidency and FEC has approved a concessionary loan from Chinese EXIM bank for the construction of five brand new international terminals and innumerable cargo terminals.