The Supervising Minister of Aviation, Dr. Samuel Ortom has expressed his committment to the timely completion of projects at the airports and that the crisis in the Ministry of Aviation would be treated as a family matter and resolved amicably.
Speaking in Makurdi, Ortom who was reacting to the allegations of insubordination leveled against the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of aviation, Dr.JamilaShua’ra, admitted that “the ministry is not immuned to crisis.”
Blueprint gathered that the frosty relationship between the supervising minister and the permanent secretary became public when Shua’ra allegedly turned down the earlier approval for oversea training of staff of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT).
It was learnt that the permanent secretary who was recently posted to the ministry of aviation had reasoned that since the federal government had stopped training its personnel abroad it would be inappropriate to approve any funds the trip.
It was also gathered that the training and its budget were approved by the former minister of aviation, Stella Oduah.
Besides, the permanent secretary was alleged to have withheld funds meant for contractors executing projects at some airports in the country except the ones handling the five new terminals under construction at Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja and Enugu airports.
The rift between Ortom and Shua’ra caught the attention of the national conference committee on transport when its chairman, Senator Musa Adede condemned the ministry of aviation for its failure to continue with the airport terminal projects and cargo terminal facilities sited at some airports in the country.
Musa noted that following a meeting with the permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr.JamilaShua’ra and other senior staff, it was obvious that “there is lack of coordination and synergy to carry on with the ongoing projects at the airports.”
He advised that for the aviation master plan to come to fruition there must be coordination from the ministry which, according to him “is now under the management of permanent secretary as the chief financial officer.”
Musa pointed out that work on projects at some airport had been slowed down while at the others work had stopped, except the ones built at the five international terminals by Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).
Giving hint to the frosty relationship, Ortom told newsmen in Makurdi that “whatever issues we have, we resolve them as a family in the ministry”.
However, he said the permanent secretary, “to my knowledge, isn’t sitting on any contractor’s funds.”
“Let me use this opportunity to say that the recent insinuation that the permanent secretary of the ministry of aviation Mrs.Shua’raJamila is frustrating the remodelling exercise of the aviation industry is not true. There is no iota of truth in those assertions.
“When the president signs the 2014 appropriation bill and funds released to the ministry, the projects will go on.
“I’m the minister supervising aviation ministry for now and I’m also aware that the projects are captured in the 2014 appropriation bill that is awaiting assent. As soon as that is done, we will continue work. So, no money is being held by the permanent secretary and no one is frustrating anything,” he emphasised.
“I’m on top of the situation in the ministry of aviation. I haven’t seen any form of insubordination from my Permanent Secretary. Whatever issues we have, we resolve them as a family in the ministry.
““The road map for the transformation of the aviation industry is on course and all projects that were started by my predecessor will be completed. We are not keen on starting new projects except where they involve security and safety but we are committed to completing these projects. I believe that when funds become available, in two months, we will commission the terminal building,” he said.