Obasanjo And Corruption


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Obasanjo, Beachland Estate And Unbridled Corruption




Jide Ayobolu





November 1, 2006


President Olusegun Obasanjo since 1999 has said severally that his government will work relentlessly to curb the menace of corruption that has systematically led to the development of underdevelopment. In his maiden speech, president Obasanjo said nothing will be spared in the war against corruption, and that there will be no untouchables. But in the fight against corruption, the president that has presided over the affairs of NNPC since 1999, but has not explained the missing N311billion that should have been paid into the revenue account, and Nigerians are eagerly waiting to know what actually happened to the said amount. Secondly, it was reported that N84billion was missing in NPA, involving a bigwig of the ruling PDP, hence, the EFCC has been lily-livered to make public its findings since, the main dramatis personae is an alter-ego of the president, again, Nigerians want to know what really happened in NPA. Also, where is the N6.4billion that was collected for the controversial presidential library that is adjudged to be illegal?

Also, Chief Dan Etete, who recently came to the country to do some hatchet jobs for the president to smear the integrity and credibility of vice president Atiku Abubakar, in 2002, in some foreign newspapers published a very interesting rapacious and graft story about president Obasanjo, according to Etete, “Obasanjo must not hold the view that Nigeria have very short memory or that they do not care. How does he explain his attempts to dispossess his erstwhile friend, Chief Egunjobi, of the Beach Land Estate? In his first coming as Head of State, he claims he built the estate and on leaving office he took his former friend Chief Egunjobi to court and shamelessly proclaimed that he used the latter as a front. He did not tell the court, as Nigerians wanted to know, how he came by the money to build the estate. The court saw through him and struck out his law suit. Two issues immediately arose from the outcome of this escapade. The first is the serial nature of the activities which we believe reflect Obasanjo’s corruption. Having claimed before a Nigerian law court the Estate belonged to him; he must answer the question as to where he got the resources to build it? His salary and allowances, while in office, are known to Nigerians. The court refused to be deceived and with him unwilling to declare the sources of the finance for the Beach Land Estate, the court made it clear he did not prove he owned the Estate. The other matter arising from this episode is the character of General Obasanjo is a covetous person. He must own what he sees and he sees and likes even if it means illegally dispossessing the rightful owner. It could have been he saw Chief Egunjobi’s beach land estate; he liked it and therefore, wanted it. In his characteristic style, coveted it and Bingo, it had to be his. The only limitation at the time is that he forgot he was no longer Head of State. When it dawned on him, he wondered what to do, he chose the option of litigation, half forgetting there were judges who guard their integrity jealously in Nigeria.” However, Obasanjo has since taken over the ownership of the contentious estate, but the fact remains, where did he get the money to build that massive estate?

In a similar development, a group called Nigeria Anti-corruption Collective has asked the president some very salient questions that bother on his crude acquisitive proclivities of the collective patrimony of the Nigerian people. The posers go thus, who owns Ajaokuta Steel Mills, Delta Steel Complex, Jos Steel Rolling Mills, Oshogbo Machine Tools and Itakpe Iron Ore Company? Who is deceiving whom? Who is the largest shareholder in UBA? Who bought out the shares of Akeem Bello-Osagie and threatened him with arrest and imprisonment? Who was the largest shareholder in First Interstate Bank Ltd, before the merger into Unity Bank? Who owns the majority shares in Virgin Nigeria? Who gave the airline special facilities at the international wings of our airports at the cost of N400million? Why does Virgin Nigeria not pay parking and landing fees and purchase aviation fuel at a discount, while at the same time competing in the same market with other local airlines? Why should one man set up Transcorp, devalue our national assets, obstruct free and fair competition and sell everything to himself and family? If not, why did Transcorp purchase almost the entire NITEL for $750million, when Globacom bidded $1.2billion for the same property? Not too long earlier, Vmobile sold a fraction of its shares for $1.2billion. How could all of NITEL with a vast net worth of digital exchanges, armoured cables, three international gateways, among others, sell for only $750million? This one man operates six farms in six states of the federation. What is the source of the funds for these massive investments? What is the deal between this one man with the owner of Mittal of India? Why the hurry in granting Block 246 to the Indian conglomerate? Is Nigeria for sale?

Apart from the numerous unanswered questions posed by the group above, the following questions have asked Mr. President, who is the real owner of Obajana cement factory? Who is the owner of Eleme Petrochemicals? Who has the largest shares in Arik Air? Why did the government sell the Nigeria Airway Hanger to this airline not through bidding, negotiation? Why did government allocate lucrative international routes to Arik Air even before it bought planes for operation, when other existing airlines doing very in the country were denied such a priviledge? Who are the people that import fuel into the country since 1999? Who has the largest shares in Transcorp? How was NICON HILTON HOTEL Abuja acquired by Transcorp? What is EFCC doing about the Israeli arms deal where some government official made about $100million for themselves? What is EFCC doing about the tokunbo presidential planes that were bought as new? Where is the report into the probe of COJA? Where is the report on Mantu, about he mismanaged the haji N400million funds?

The fact of the matter is that, until this questions are vividly answered we cannot claim to be fighting corruption, this is because, this are cases that concern the president directly and Nigeria wants categorical answers on them. It is also very important to point out that, the EFCC is the creation of the president, he appoints the chairman of the anti-graft body, he approves its funding, also, when cases are to be investigated it gets the nod of the president, in the same token, after investigations are completed, the findings and conclusions are submitted to the president for his perusal, in this type of situation, it becomes very difficult for the EFCC to do a very thorough job, it can not be in any way independent, it does what the president wants it to do, and what the president does not want, it will never do. It is in this regard that, EFCC has been aptly described as a tool in the hands of the president to deal with perceived political enemies in a dirty game of political intrigue and vendetta. And, without missing words, this is what has played out in the last few months with regards to EFCC investigation on the PTDF account, this is because, not only is the report lopsided, it is illogical, incoherent and does not add up. Therefore, it can be said that, the fight against corruption as been politized, which has made nonsense of all the attempts to rid the polity of the deadly scourge.

It is, however, very important that the president answer in full details all the questions asked and in the full glare of the public, in addition to this both public and private investigators should be asked to dig deep into the numerous disturbing and worrisome allegations against the president. The president has always carried on as if he is a saint, but in reality, he is no more than a sanctimonious wog, a lot of lip and eye services have been paid to the issue of corruption in Nigeria. Those who claim to be fighting corruption are more corrupt than those they claim are corrupt, and than this the bane of the country today.


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