from Africa in Transition

Nigerian Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah is in Trouble

January 13, 2014

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria

Corruption

Politics and Government

Heads of State and Government

Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Stella Oduah is part of President Goodluck Jonathan’s inner circle. She was his campaign director of administration and finance during the 2011 presidential elections. She is also stalked by scandal, apparently of her own making.

In October 2013, she was accused of forcing the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority to buy two armored cars for her use at the cost of N255 million (U.S. $1.6 million). Her critics charge that the cost was inflated, there was no provision for such a purchase in the budget, nor did their acquisition process comply with public procurement policy.

Sahara Reporters also accuses her of, in effect, inflating her academic credentials in her official resumes. Specifically, she claimed a Master’s degree from St. Paul’s College, Lawrenceville, Virginia. But, the college grants no graduate degrees. The college did confirm that she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. Subsequently Premium Times accused her of claiming an honorary degree from “Pacific Christian University,” in Glendale, California. That institution, apparently, has never existed. St. Paul’s has announced it is closing its doors in 2014 – a development unrelated to Stella.

Stella Oduah is not the first political figure in the world to “improve” her resume, and she probably will not be the last. However, her transgressions provide the president’s enemies yet another stick with which to beat his administration, the competency of which is widely questioned in Nigeria.

The question to be asked is why the president does not remove her from office, as many in Nigeria are demanding. She has no obvious qualifications to be minister of Aviation. The answer might be that it is difficult for a president facing an election in 2015 to remove his campaign director of administration and finance.

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