The House of Representatives Saturday said it had no problems with the three-man administrative panel set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to investigate the controversial purchase of two armoured BMW bulletproof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for N255 million.
Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who stated this in a chat with newsmen said the executive arm of government had every right to investigate one of its own and should not be vilified for doing so.
She said the more investigations conducted on an issue, the more the likelihood of getting to the root of the matter.
“We are not in any way against the setting up of the committee by the president to investigate this matter. For us here, one thing that is very clear is that we have three arms of government. There are rules and procedures. Because we’re investigating a matter, does not mean it is wrong for the executive to investigate themselves. I commend the president for setting up the committee. I’m a very progressive person and I believe that the bottom line at the end of the day is for us get to the root of the matter.
“Let the Nigerian people see us as clear and credible people. The point is that we’re working for one Nigeria, and we want to move the aviation sector to the next level. So, if setting up of 20 committees will make the sector to be safe, credible and move to the next level, it is a welcome development. I don’t like people saying the president wants to shield somebody and that is why he set up an administrative panel to investigate the issue.
“Let me tell you, two heads are better than one. Maybe in the course of our investigation we may not discover some things, and they may discover them; or maybe they will not discover some things and somehow we will discover them. But at the end of the day, let Nigeria get the best,” she said.
Onyejeocha said contrary to the insinuations in some quarters, the aviation committees in the National Assembly never approved the purchase of the bulletproof vehicles.
According to her, all available records including the Appropriation Act 2013 show that the aviation committees of the National Assembly only approved the purchase of 25 operational vehicles at the cost of N240m only.
She acknowledged that the NCAA did submit a proposal for the armoured cars during the budget defence process but the National Assembly turned it down.
“The budget that we approved did not have armoured cars at all. We asked them to take it back and remove it entirely. Now we’re talking about two documents: one had armoured cars, but the one that we signed did not have them. If the document we approved did not have any armoured car, where did they get the approval for it? That is the critical question. So, I want Nigerians to know that at no point did we approve armoured cars.
“For God's sake, N240 million was approved for 25 number of vehicles for 22 airports across the country,” she said.
The lawmaker said since the matter was still under investigation, it would not be appropriate to join issues with NCAA or any other persons.
On the likely effect the car purchase controversy would have on the aviation sector, Onyejeocha said the fact that the NCAA was under investigation did not mean the sector had not recorded improvements.
She said the current happenings in the sector were an eye-opener and an indication that both the parliament and Nigerians were keeping a close tab on the aviation sector.
Onyejeocha said,“Let me tell you why this thing is healthy. This kind of exercise is putting us in check to know that it is not just people coming here and you appropriate; it means that Nigerians will scrutinise the budget that we approve. The future is brighter for the aviation and all the other sectors.
"Before now, somebody would see this kind of thing and say ‘na dem dem.’
“But this time around people are saying that it is not good. The problem is about people knowing that this country belongs to all of us. It does not matter whether I am involved or somebody else is involved. What I’m saying in essence is that we should give ourselves a chance.”