EFCC's Hasty Graft Index


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EFCC’s Hasty Graft Index




Jide Ayobolu





October 20, 2006

The chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu recently named former Head of State, General Sani Abacha as the world biggest looter. He also named Mobutu Seseseko, former President of Zaire, now Congo Democratic Republic as next to him. He said the late Abacha is the world record holder among Heads of State and Presidents of countries who looted their countries’ treasuries. But the point is perhaps, Ribadu has hastily concluded on an issue that is still unfolding, this is more so, if one puts in proper perspective the on-going revelations about the involvement of President Olusegun Obasanjo in several under-the table-business-deals, such that has never been witnessed in the annals of the country.

The is no doubting the fact that, when General Obasanjo came out from the prison in 1998, after he had spent three years, three month and three days, he came out as a poor man, in fact he was indebted to a number of banks, not only this, his family has started selling off equipment and other valuables in his Ota farm, almost everything he had, have all gone down the drain, he was in fact, rehabilitated by a group of political elite, by making sure that he became the president of Nigeria in 1999.

Hence, the question has been asked that, how come that a man who was poor in 1999 become suddenly rich overnight? What is the source of his wealth? Where did he get his money from? How come that today he is perhaps the richest Nigerian today and the richest President on the continent of Africa? Similarly the following germane questions have been put to the president, namely, 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 the shares of Akeem Bello-Osagie and threatened him with arrest and imprisonment?

Furthermore, who has the largest share in Zenith Bank? Who was the largest shareholder in First Interstate Bank Ltd, before the merger into Unity Bank? Who has the largest shares in Unity Bank today? Whose interest is the daughter of the President representing on the board of 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 N400 million? Why does Virgin Nigeria not paying 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? Who owns majority shares in Arik Air? Why was lucrative international routes given to this airline against the regulation of ICAO, even before the airline bought any plane? Why was the hanger of Nigeria Airways sold to Arik air not by bidding, but through negotiation?

Moreover, why should one man set up Transcorp; devalue our national assets, obstruct free and fair competition and sell everything to himself and his family? If not, why did Transcorp purchase almost the entire NITEL for $750 million when Globacom bidded $1.2 billion for the same property? Not too long earlier, Vmobile sold a fraction of its shares for $1.2 billion. 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?

Again, who owns the Obajana cement factory? Who owns the Beach land Estate? Where did the owner get the funds to erect such magnificent, sprawling edifice? According to Dan Etete in an advertorial placed in some foreign newspapers, he said, “take the so-called privatization of Niger dock for example: even before the commencement of the sitting of the Commission of Inquiry into the management of Niger dock and over the protest of the responsible minister, Obasanjo’s government announced, the privatization of the dockyard. When the successful bidder could not pay the price, Obasanjo, in all haste, extended the payment due to be sure the facility was sold. What was the haste and was being covered up? Yet everyone recalls the stand of government during the bidding exercise for GSM licenses. For this regime, what is good for the goose is not good for the gander”. He went on to explain that, 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.

Etete also asked in the same advertorial that, how does this regime wish to be remembered? General Gowon’s regime will be remembered for the tremendous contribution to infrastructural development in the country, its strenuous efforts to defend the unity of Nigeria and sports development…Alhaji Shehu Shagari will be remembered for the focus on agriculture, investment in fertilizer production and the defence of Nigeria’s oil market share in probably the most difficult market the Nigerian oil industry has faced in its history…The initial infrastructure for Abuja was put in place during his regime what of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda? He invested in the development of Abuja, he introduced indigenization to the upstream segment of the petroleum sector and granted acreage to Nigerians, a situation that was previously the preserve of expatriate companies…Obasanjo may say what he likes about his predecessors in office, but he has been compared unfavourably with the latter in the management of our national economy. When respected citizens draw his attention to this simple fact, Obasanjo does what he knows best; he becomes abusive and refuses to listen to professional advice.

So, Ribadu ought to have waited till the end of 2007, so that the unfolding scenario would have fully played out, for all to really know the number one looter in Nigeria. Indeed, if genuine answers must be provided for all these questions, then perhaps, Abacha’s loot record will be nothing, but a child’s play.



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