Though she never pursued ethnic agenda, it is to Princess Oduah’s credit and in line with former President Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda that the jinx was broken and the first international airport was created in Igbo land
History the world over is replete with people whose exemplary conduct or intervention at a particular point in the journey of life altered positively the course of events or changed the damned lot of a race or nation. Such people mostly women are heroines in their own right and in all ramification or perspective one may look at it. The heroines are strong spirited women whose transcendental lives or whose legendary stories have elevated mankind with their either mystique incomparable ethereal beauty, wisdom, wit, virtue, grace , talent, kindness or exceptional courage.
Bible, the Holy book of the Christians written by human authors under divine inspiration is replete with such breathtaking, bold, brave and unpredictable women of the sacred scriptures who did extraordinary acts that altered history in one way or the other. People like Abigail, a prophetess and King David’s third wife, Bithiah, Pharaoh’s daughter who rescued Moses from the clutches of death in infancy, Queen Esther, the Jewish woman who secured the lives of her people from total extermination and annihilation.
There is also Maria of Nazareth, the transcendental mystique who is the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the savior of the world not to talk of Ruth, the Moabite princess who is remembered as the epitome of kindness among others. The story of Esther in the Bible who by act of sheer bravery, courage and undying passion for her people succeeded in upturning the death sentence passed on them by the Persian Emperor, Xerxes through the instrumentality of the wicked Haman, presents a clear pointer that every nation needs such women who can dare even at the risk of death to effect a positive change.
The people of the Igbo nation in the Nigerian project more than forty years after the civil war have remained like second class citizens in a country where we claim to be practicing a federal structure anchored on the principles of Federal Character, equity and justice. The degeneration in the polity ensured that virtually all the ‘juicy’ portfolios, government parastatals , military and para- military as well as establishment of any strategic project is allegedly by design denied the Igbo nation.
Some described Ndigbo as errand boys who go to Abuja as messengers and are later given personal compensation for being dedicated messengers while the lot of the Igbo race continued to be denied of all their entitlements in the game of “who gets what, when and how” which politics is all about. But there comes a time in the affairs of man where destiny and nature throws up a flicker of hope that can change the status quo and enthrone a new order.
The emergence of Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah as Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation on July 4 2011 remains and will remain a reference point in the history of the Igbo nation and Nigeria’s march to development. Oduah, a beloved daughter of Ogbaru land in Anambra State within her short stint in the Aviation ministry did what no man could do in the history of Nigeria from independence in 1960 till date. In 2011, when Oduah was deployed to the Aviation ministry, it was a pathetic picture of a nation whose airports and aviation industry has been rendered comatose and on life support.
All the critical equipments and installations for safety and security were all obsolete, unserviceable and unavailable. Infrastructure at the various airport terminals have been left in a dilapidated state and complete decay. The situation was so bad that the accompanying features in almost all airports across the country were leaking roofs, broken floors, darkness in the runways and constant power failure not to talk of several abandoned control tower upgrade project with serious security risks for the industry.
Nigeria’s foremost Aviation Training College, Zaria then was such in shambles that the institution had lost its ability to train students and also lacked adequate equipment and facilities. It was also such a booming business for corrupt people in the system then that all the agencies in the aviation industry suffered terrible loss of revenue and massive leakage due to the manipulation of manual revenue collection processes then.
After taking a holistic view of the sorry state of affairs in the aviation ministry, Princess Oduah never got demoralized but rather she got down to work with a mindset to achieve results. With an Aviation Master Plan approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2012, there was no dull moment again in the determination to effect a positive change. From the remodeling project of 22 airports scattered across the country and the airspace infrastructure development programme in Nigeria, Princess Oduah and her team delivered to the surprise of even the pessimists and the landmine layers.
Though she never pursued ethnic agenda, it is to Princess Oduah’s credit and in line with former President Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda that the jinx was broken and the first international airport was created in Igbo land. The Akanu Ibiam Enugu Airport that has been left to rot was not only upgraded to an international status but today to the pains of Igbo haters, the people of the South east can now travel to different parts of the world through the Enugu International Airport. No wonder, it was joy everlasting recently during the last Christian pilgrimage when thousands of pilgrims took off from the airport for their religious obligations.
Today, Princess Oduah has done Ndigbo proud with her performance when she was entrusted with a responsibility. Her people have reciprocated that wonderful gesture of hers by voting her as a senator representing Anambra North in the National Assembly.
Though some people who prospered under the old order and hated her guts to change the system and block their conduit pipes are still determined to pull her down, Oduah remains committed in making a positive mark wherever she is in Nigeria. Ndigbo will remain proud of her for daring to liberate her people no matter the circumstances and consequences. Just like Queen Esther, she is consumed by the love for her people and in times like this, it is another clarion call on the need to have more Esthers like Oduah in Igbo land.
•Amamchukwu Onubuogu wrote in from Ogbunike, Anambra State via educationforjustice@ yahoo.com Tel: 07046127775