OUTRAGE and strong condemnation Thursday continued to greet the admission of purchase of two BMW760 armoured vehicles by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi.
The NCAA, through the then Acting Director General, Mr. Joyce Nkemakolam, had on August 13, 2013, through a letter to Coscharis Motors with reference: NCAA/DG/PROC/07/8/COSCHARIS, entitled, "Purchase of two BMW760 Armoured Vehicles", directed the auto dealer to supply the cars to the NCAA at a cost of N127,575.000 each amounting to a total of N255 million.
The minister's spokesman, Joe Obi, had confirmed the purchase of the cars for her boss, explaining that some security vehicles were bought for her in response to, "the clear and imminent threat to her life by some people".
According to Obi, "When she came onboard as minister, she inherited a lot of baggage in terms of concessions and lease agreements. The vehicles are not personal vehicles and were not procured in the name of the minister".
Many expressed concern about the purchase of the two cars by the aviation regulator at a time the agency and others are in serious dire straits, as exemplified by its inability to pay inspectors to embark on training and retraining.
They equally carpeted the agency for electing to buy expensive cars for the minister, which they said violated the Federal Government's procurement policy.
Former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) said it was disheartening for any government agency to have procured two cars for a serving minister, describing it as heartless.
His words, "Surely, this is not an act of God. This is heartless, devilish and satanic for anyone to do. Aircraft are falling; people are dying because NCAA inspectors cannot carry out routine periodic audits,survey
Ojikutu was piqued by Obi's explanation that the threat posed by people to the minister's life led to the purchase of the two flashy cars, said, "Who is after her life, if she is not deceitful in her job? How many ministers
Speaking on the scandal, Managing Director of SY&T Communications and an aviation consultant, Simon Tumba said it was incomprehensible that the NCAA would commit such colossal amount of money for the purchase of two cars when there are facilities begging for attention and at a time when the nation's airspace needs urgent funds.
According to him, "I don't want to say this is fraud, but everything points to that direction. Who appropriated the money that was used for the purchase of those luxury cars
Tumba noted that it was not the business of the NCAA to purchase two 'very expensive' cars for a minister, stressing that the ministry should have done that if the minister desired such bulletproof cars for her personal use. This development, he said further reinforces call for the sack of the minister.
A former Assistant Secretary General of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mohammed Tukur called on President Goodluck Jonathan to remove her before damage is done to a sector that is life dependent.
Tukur said the minister should be prosecuted alongside the then Acting DG over the purchase.
According to the NCAA letter of request for the supply of the two expensive cars, the transaction for the purchase of the cars started in June this year, but the request for the delivery of and payment was fast tracked between August 13 and August 15, 2015.
The two black BMW Li HSS vehicles had chassis numbers WBAHP4105DW68032 and WBAHP41010DW68044 and were reportedly delivered to the NCAA August 13, 2013. They were received by two store managers F. Onoabhagbe and Y.A. Amzat, who is also the agency's head of transport.
According to Tukur, "The Minister of Aviation should not only resign, she should be prosecuted. I call on the EFCC to take up that matter and investigate it properly".
However, an auto car dealer on Toyin Street, Ikeja who preferred anonymity alleged that the cost of the cars could have been inflated.
He disclosed that the market value for each of the cars oscillate between N45 million and N48 million, "and could not have cost N127 million each".
The BWW armoured cars has its weight behind, over, under and every other way, on protecting its customers; made heavy by its bullet proof windows, and wide fail-safe tyres among other additions, the 7 is a security unit obviously made for the safety of occupants sitting inside. Not a security feature itself, the flagpole on the front fender indicates the potential buyers of this vehicle, namely prominent politicians.
Engines supplied with the new 7 Series should be able to handle the extra kilos supplied by the protection elements.
The BMW 760Li High Security has a 6.0 litre twin turbo V12 Rolls-Royce engine, which gives the car 537hp and 533lb-ft of torque. The 760li is capable of 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, which is impressive given its size and weight; both cars have an electronically limited top speed of 131mph.
According to an expert in the sale of armoured cars, "When most cars become armoured versions this is usually an addition not intended for the vehicle, however these cars have been designed specifically for this task, they have upgraded the suspension to account for the extra weight bullet-proof plating will add, not only this, but the panels of the car are exactly the same size as the bullet-proof versions, which should allow less weak spots".