A minister’s vulgar taste By Lawal Ogienagbon

The world over men are perceived to be more corrupt than women. This has given rise to the clamour that women should be given more positions of responsibility in order to build an healthy society. In the world’s corruption index, Mexico is rated among nations where graft has grown root. Between that country and ours, only God knows where corruption thrives most. Mexico seems to appreciate the problem it is in, this is why the governor of one of its states directed that male traffic cops be replaced with women. Will that solve the corruption problem?

This question is pertinent because it is not entirely correct to say that women are not as corrupt as men. When it comes to corruption, it is hard to determine which gender comes tops because money itself knows no gender. Money does not know the difference between a male and female touch. It enjoys the embrace of whoever touches it, be it man or woman. But women like to delude themselves that they are more honest than men.

They say it without qualms that when it comes to moral integrity, men stand no chance against them. We have come to find out that this is all baloney. How do I mean? We have seen female robbers, female pick pockets, female car snatchers, corrupt female politicians and thieving female bankers. All these : robbing, stealing and the other vices were associated with men. Now, it is a case of what a man can do, a woman can do, even better. To the consternation of many, women now compete for space with men even in the nastiest areas of life.

Many women have thrown overboard their God given grace to be the meek of the earth. They have shed their motherly toga in the craze for wealth and power and the society is the poorer for it. A country where its women behave as true mothers will attain lofty heights because they will serve as the moral beacon for the young and old. Women were specially created to assist men, but many of them have abandoned this role in their desperation to carve a niche for themselves.

There is nothing wrong in a woman asserting herself, especially in these modern times. It is an era of survival of the fittest and women are not left out in this rat race of life. This is why many of them do abominable things in order to belong. You find them where women are not supposed to be found and do things that women should not be involved in. Society overlooks their excesses and allows them to be. Once in a while, society is shocked by the behaviour of some women and it reacts accordingly.

It condemns such women and shows them to the world as bad examples of womanhood. Who is a good woman and who is a bad woman? A good woman is pure, simple, unassuming, honest and diligent. A bad woman can simply be described as one that lacks moral scruples. It is such women who dip their hands into anything, no matter how bad because they want to belong or prove to their peers that they too have arrived. What they don’t know is that a woman will surely arrive when her time comes. It cannot be otherwise, but they want to hasten things and so end up doing what they should not do.

They call it opportunity. Yes, it is good to cash in on opportunity to make good in life, but it is wrong to use our commonwealth to achieve their so – called opportunity. Being a minister or occupant of any other public office should not be a licence for any man or woman to abuse such trust to enrich himself or herself. Our public officers are fond of using their privileged positions to do the unthinkable. They use both hands to acquire everything at sight under the guise of serving us. We can understand if men do this, but what do we say of women, the so – called fairer sex, who are expected to be the paragon of virtue?

By now, you must have heard of the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, a princess, who got two BMW bulletproof cars from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), a parastatal under her ministry. NCAA Director – General Captain Fola Akinkuotu describes the cars as “operational vehicles”. As a minister with many parastatals under her purview, should we take it that she is entitled to such “operational vehicles” from each of them. The aviation sector is in deep crisis, but here we are, our minister is busy acquiring or is it arm twisting agencies under her to acquire armoured vehicles for her. If the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) buy her such vehicles she will end up having 10. What does she want to do with 10 armoured cars when the only record of the aviation ministry she is superintending is that of crashes? Under her watch, we have witnessed two crashes.

The first was the Dana plane crash of June 3, last year, and the second was the October 3 Associated Airlines plane crash. Our public officers are only interested in themselves; they do not care about their countrymen that they were appointed to serve. We can all perish in plane crashes for all that Princess Stella cares as long as she gets her armoured vehicles. For NCAA to have spent N255million on the princess’ cars shows the extent some of our agencies go to in order to please their supervising ministers just for the heads to keep their jobs. No wonder Akinkuotu is already blowing hot that the workers, who leaked the purchase of the armoured cars, will be shown the way out.

If there is anyone to be sacked over this matter, it is the director – general, who in less than six months in office, took this major decision of buying armoured cars for his minister. What is the reason for this acquisition? Is it to thank the minister for his appointment? Akinkuotu and his management must tell us how they got the money to buy these cars. Was the money appropriated for by the National Assembly? Under what subhead was it taken to the National Assembly? What reasons, if any, did NCAA give for the acquisition? The National Assembly, which resumed from break on Tuesday, should show keen interest in this matter because it borders on the oversight functions of its aviation committees.

If the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Aviation are not aware of the acquisition of these vehicles, then the NCAA has a lot of explanations to make as regards how it came about the funds for the cars. It means the authority bypassed the legislature in making such capital expenditure. Asked whether the money for the purchase was appropriated, Joyce Nkemkolam, NCAA’s Director of Aerodrome and Airspace, could not provide an answer when he appeared on Channels Television on Tuesday morning. Yet, he signed some of the papers for the purchase of the cars.

The NCAA management and the minister deserve the harshest of punishment for this seeming cutting of corners to acquire these armoured cars. They should not be spared if we are really serious about prosecuting the anti – corruption war. Let us make an example of them to deter others. But will we? Over to the Presidency and the National Assembly.

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