Minister of State for Aviation Reacts to SIGNAL’s Report on Row With Amaechi
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika has denied a report that he quarreled with Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi.
Sirika described the story which was first reported in the Nigerian media by SIGNAL as the work of mischief makers.
SIGNAL had exclusively reported how Amaechi and Sirika almost engaged in physical combat.
“It’s all about power tussle. Sirika thinks Amaechi is overstepping his boundaries and should mind his business as Transport Minister. But Amaechi is also in charge of Aviation. He is the senior minister, while Sirika as Minister of State for Aviation is junior minister. But Sirika sees himself as the President’s guy. So, he refuses to take directives from Amaechi and now Amaechi is feeling undermined. This has led to a big power play between both men. It is becoming so messy that even the official portraits of both ministers are missing at the airports. That’s why Amaechi was doing maritime summit in Lagos while Sirika was doing aviation in Abuja”, a source who did not want to be named had exclusively told SIGNAL.
Recall that SIGNAL had contacted Yakubu Datti, the General Manager, Corporate Communications, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for comments. When asked why the portraits of both ministers were missing at the federal airports across the country, Datti told SIGNAL, “We are awaiting the official portraits of the ministers. They are yet to send them in to us.”
Pushing further, our reporter asked Datti if the reason for the missing portraits was connected to reports of an ongoing power tussle between both ministers. At this point, Datti replied, “The portraits are there. Amaechi’s portrait is at the airport. It is only that of the Minister of State that is not there.”
“But you just said you were awaiting the portraits?”, our reporter fired back. “I have a right to make a mistake. I am not God. Or is this an examination?”, Datti queried.
“You have a right to make mistakes, but as journalists, we have a right to ask questions and make clarifications. So, why are Sirika’s portraits not at the airports side by side with Amaechi?”, our reporter asked Datti.
“It is one ministry with one permanent secretary. So it is only the portrait of the senior minister that should be there”, he replied.
However, investigations by SIGNAL reveal that the standard practice is to have the portraits of both ministers at the airports.
Reacting to SIGNAL’s report, Sirika said: “The social media said that I and the minister are fighting but that is not true. The fact that there are no pictures of me at airports, offices and agencies under aviation is based on my personal choice.
“I believe that my photo will not give Nigerians anything, rather, it is my actions that will. I don’t need my pictures on walls. They were there before but I ordered that they be removed. Photo will not give us good airports and runways, rather good governance and that is my challenge and target.
“Having pictures everywhere as far as I am concerned is very trivial, unnecessary and it is not my style. My pictures should be put on walls when I have worked. Having my pictures on walls is not the major reason why I was appointed to serve. My dream is to change the industry for better and when that is done, then my pictures can be put everywhere.”
The minister spoke while responding to issues raised by the National President of the Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN), Mr. Benjamin Okeowo during a courtesy call. He then called for a merger of works with the Ministry of Transportation.
According to the minister: “For me, I think the merger ought to even go a step further than what it is today. The merger is between aviation and transportation but for me, I think the ministry of transportation should still carry Federal Ministry of Works and certain critical aspects.
“Why works, because if you remove environment, lands and housing from works, what will remain is highways and highways like waterways and airways are all ways and they are under transportation.”
Meanwhile, Thisday newspaper on its print version on Sunday May 29, 2016, reports in a story on page 75-76 that both ministers were close to exchanging blows recently. “Sirika allegedly refused to take orders from Amaechi, who is also the senior Minister of Aviation and Sirika’s direct boss by virtue of his designation as the nation’s Minister of Transport. Amaechi in response has refused to take Sirika’s insubordination lying low. He seizes every opportunity to put Sirika in his place”, Thisday reported, further corroborating the exclusive report by SIGNAL.
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