May 29: Matters Arising (IV)
The Nigerian former President, a self-professing Messiah, Olusegun Obasanjo, was lamenting to his Egba people the other day how he was held up in the Lagos perennial traffic snarl for two hours as he reportedly resumed studies at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) campus in V.I Lagos. Well having been accustomed in the last eight years he occupied Aso Rock to traffic-free no-hold-barred movements OBJ experienced what millions of his compatriots go through daily in Lagos and elsewhere toiling for daily bread.
OBJ should have asked himself when he was trapped for few hours in the traffic hiccup what and what he did to decongest the Nigerian roads and build more for the people's daily routines even while swimming in billions of excess petro-dollars. Under his presidency many Nigerians were killed on account of bad network of roads that dot our landscape. Under his command the Benin-Ore highway claimed hundreds of lives and still claims more due to criminal abandonment and non-repair.
A former president who loved the good life flying from Abuja major capital cities in the West and to Lagos in presidential jet and from MMA straight to Ota in an executive helicopter should not complain when that presidential privilege is no more; having been flying executively without giving any concern about our terrible road network which he seldom used before now it is refreshing to see him trapped in a traffic logjam. One cannot but wish OBJ more road traffic worries as he goes to school.
The Lagos he was visiting where his NOUN school is located is the same state he denied its huge federal local government allocation even against the Supreme Court ruling to the contrary. With NOUN V.I Lagos in his mind the April 14th gubernatorial polls in Lagos State was a 'do or die' one for Obasanjo and Bode George whose PDP party fielded Musliu Obanikoro but got soundly beaten in the polls as progressive Lagosians preffered Tinubu's Fashola for continuity. Obasanjo had badly wanted Obanikoro in Alausa-Ikeja government house so that his NOUN programme will be as rosy as possible but alas his wish was denied him by democracy.
Penultimate weekend a delegation from Atiku's Adamawa state led by the new governor Murtala Nyako visited Obasanjo in Abeokuta to register their loyalty and solidarity. We all know that without Obasanjo's 'do-or die' April polls retired military men like Nyako would not have made it as governors. And discredited politicians like Senator Jubril Aminu would not have made it to the senate as well. So a grateful Nyako and Aminu had every cause to visit Abeokuta to pay homage. According to Aminu who was education minister under Babangida's rogue regime: "Prophets of doom have been proved wrong. We did our presidential nomination; presidential election and we have had a very smooth transfer of power from the gentleman in whose house we are now to another gentleman, Alhaji Umaru YarÔÇśAdua."
Aminu was referring to us, critics, as 'prophets of doom' because we refuse in unison to endorse an illegitimate product of a deeply flawed electoral process mindlessly manipulated to the whims and caprices of certain retrogressive forces. Jubril Aminu has refused to grow with time; his Nigeria of yesteryears where things were done against the people's interest is dead and out of its demise is born a new Nigeria where the rule of law and due process is the new anthem. It's just unfortunate that he's part of it.
The newly-selected Senate President David Mark remains an OBJ choice if not lackey. It took Obasanjo two desperate telephone calls from his Ota base for Mark to be 'coronated' as Senate President. David "Dauda" Mark, a former Military man and Communications minister under Babangida was quoted as saying then out of some ministerial drunkenness that telephone service was not meant for the poor folks. He was remarkably a pro-tenure elongation during the TTA debacle. The question then is: if Third Term Agenda had succeeded (with Ghana-must-go changing hands in the floor of the senate) would David Mark have ever dreamt of becoming the third citizen of Nigeria? How does a core retired military man who ran away to Ghana when Abacha was seeking for his head after declaring that the late dictator had derailed from their "original coup plans" make a good senate president?
David Mark has a lot to explain to the Nigerian people about his past that is more graceless than honourable. He needs, for example, to provide satisfactory answer to the question concerning his divorce when he was on self-imposed exile in England. According to recent reports Mark was involved in a 6 million Pound Sterling bank account litigation with his divorced wife Victoria in Britain! He needs to be asked how he sees the GSM revolution in Nigeria as against his stance that telephone is for the rich only. How does that arrogant anti-people elitist comment fit in in a democratic government viewed against the background that he made the remark while wearing the jackboot?
To those Senators who have risen in his defense one can only wish them success in their defensive position because conscience as an open sore can only be healed by truth. Chris Anyanwu (a great woman of the pen profession representing Owerri Zone) and Obasanjo's daughter Iyabo (whose primary role, it seems, in the Senate is to defend the legacies of her father) must not play against the wave or current of events. The chronic polygamist must be allowed to defend himself in the public court.
Nigeria recently made history with the emergence of Chief (Mrs.) Patricia Olubunmi Etteh as the Speaker of the lower chamber of the legislative arm, the Federal House of Representatives. Mrs Etteh made history seconding Virgy Etiaba who became the first Governor of a state, Anambra, in Nigeria last year following the illegal impeachment of her former boss Peter Obi. Women, if anything, should be encouraged to take up more higher positions and responsibilities in the Nigerian power arena like elsewhere in the wider world where amazons are not afraid to break gender barriers.
The new IGP Mike Okiro and his vigilant police force had caught their fellow 'dealers' removing huge amounts of money from the police headquarters at wee hours of the morning. According to reports Commissioner of Police (CP) in-charge of budget at the Force Headquarters, Mr John Obaniyi, and two aides were caught as they attempted to move N21.1 million overnight out of the Force Headquarters, Abuja. Does the cash belong to Ehindero as claimed by Obaniyi? Thank God President Yar'Adua has since ordered Okiro to probe Ehindero and unravel the mystery behind the huge cash theft attempt.
May 29 and its aftermath has since thrown up a lot of loopholes for money laundering and outright embezzlement of public funds. The way and manner those in high positions of trust corner funds for themseves is not only intriguing but baffling. The other day the Nigerian military Attach├ę in India was caught in New Delhi International Airport with hefty funds he intended 'smuggling' into Nigeria.
Obasanjo used Sunday 'Mugu' Ehindero for so many dirty deals and jobs as IGP. And now that Okiro has mounted the saddle pehaps we are in for new leads into the unresolved high-profile murders associated with the Obasanjo 'militocratic' regime. Not a few doubted Obasanjo and Ehindero's last-minute drug baron theory comedy. Setting up a man whose business of drug importation and distribution has crumbled before the law should not be the best way to resolve the murder of Bola Ige.
The soul of Ige and others murdered for political reasons will never rest in peace until their real killers are found and punished. Okiro should endeavour to do justice to the souls of the departed. If he records success on that score alone then his legacy will be a good one.
Earlier this week the ex-governor of Enugu State Chimaroke Nnamani after a hard bargaining with highly-connected politicians came back to Nigeria from his US hideout. The former governor who was elected Senator allegedly ran away pre-May 29 to avoid arrest by the EFCC like others. Nnamani came back home not only to assume his senatorial position but to keep an appointment with the EFCC that has summoned some ex-governors to ask questions over their stewardships armed with damaging petitions and evidences of corrupt dealings in office. About fifteen of the former governors including Duke, Attah and Tinubu have so far been quizzed and let off the hook while billions worth of stolen state assets have been recovered from them.
The soft-landing treatment being given to the ex-governors who succeeded more in fleecing the people of their various states of their fiscal resources must have been making some like Joshua Dariye show up in EFCC corporate headquarters in Abuja to be counted. With more than 100 billions of assets already recovered from the looters Ribadu and his men need to dig deeper for more.
All said and done President Yar'Adua must prove to us (since he is yet to do that) that Obasanjo is not ruling Nigeria by proxy from his Ota farm settlement.