The Thief Called Peter Odili

by Uche Nworah

Have you seen or read the interim report by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC), the outcome of their investigations of Governor Peter Odili of Rivers state and some of his government officials? If you are a Nigerian or a friend of Nigeria, I suggest that you download the report and read it.

Perhaps the accusations Nigerians level against their politicians that they are corrupt, selfish and wicked may not just be as a result of bad belle after all. Maybe you have been feeling indifferent in the past because you may be one of those Nigerians who have made good through self-belief and hardwork and have now settled into your comfort zone either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, but the report which accuses Peter Odili of stealing over 100 billion naira of Rivers state government money (close to a billion dollars) will not only shock you but it may hunt you for days. You will not be wrong if you helplessly throw up your hands in the air and wonder the type of god men like Odili worship.

To think that Odili at some point nursed the ambition of becoming Nigeria’s President and allegedly had the backing of the incumbent President Obasanjo leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth. Although Obasanjo was forced to dump him at the last minute in the light of the overwhelming EFCC security report on him, Peter Odili was once Obasanjo’s favoured godson and was the one chosen from all the President’s friends and associates to be the sponsor at the show stopping marriage ceremony between the President’s son Muyiwa and his Dominican wife Imilse..

Could the President have known all along? I bet he did but perhaps he considered Odili’s case an akamu case. In the land of thieves, perhaps Odili may have been adjudged a small timer still operating in the minor league.

I watched Peter Odili on television recently being interviewed by a British reporter and felt like punching him in the face. The interview was conducted in one of the stately rooms in the new Rivers state government house, a project he counts as one of the dividends of democracy to Rivers people. The opulence and splendour on display in his mansion was later contrasted in the television programme with the poverty that his people suffer from every day, some of them were shown in their shanty houses wearing rags as clothes. Odili’s Italian marbled and gold plated furnishings were also juxtaposed to his people’s patched up dilapidated living quarters. It was quite an eyesore seeing some of his people barely clinging on to life while he was busy popping £300-a-bottle Crystal champagne for the white reporter who was in the state to investigate the Niger Delta crises.

Odili didn’t quite see the incongruence of the whole situation and was bent on impressing the reporter who indirectly mocked him in the documentary. As I watched Odili in his flannel shirt parry questions from the reporter, I simply felt anger and revulsion at the big fool who answered that he did not create the Niger Delta situation to the reporter’s question on what he was doing to improve the living conditions of his people living in the shanty villages bordering on the river line areas. Yes, Odili did not create the problem but he sure has contributed to the escalation of the problems in the area. Had he thought it wise to invest one third of the money the EFCC is accusing him of stealing, maybe the lot of his people would have been improved.

Throughout the interview, Odili acted as if he was spitting on the graves of his people, and spotted a wry smile all through as he sat on his majestic throne sipping a glass of wine poured from the freshly opened bottle of Crystal champagne by his royal servants.

Afterwards the reporter told the viewers the cost of a bottle of Crystal champagne and contrasted Odili’s lifestyle with that of the indigenes of his state some of whom were shown in their derelict living conditions.

I dare say that the members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta People (MEND) and other Niger Delta militants may have been misdirecting their anger by kidnapping foreign oil workers. If you ask me, I think that they should storm Odili’s kingdom and chase him away, he is the one stealing their money in concert with some of the so-called chiefs and community leaders who exploit oil companies in the region and obtain huge sums of money from them under the guise that they would be used for community development projects, such funds end up in their bank accounts.If the militants storm Odili’s palace, he may just be forced to vomit all the money he has stolen and the next governor would have learnt a lesson or two.

What about Peter Odili’s conduit, Mr.Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, owner of Rockson Engineering Company Ltd and Arik Air Ltd, don’t people like him ever get tired? Would they live on earth forever? I shudder at the minds of people like him who lay their state’s treasury to waste buoyed by their insatiable greed. People like Arumemi-Ikhide and Peter Odili make the likes of the dethroned Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun and impeached Bayelsa state governor Alamiesegha look like saints. What do these men hope to do with all the money that they have stolen from their people when they only have a few more years to live on earth? Even the next 10 generations in their lineages would still not be able to consume all that many riches. Perhaps the devil has eaten deep into their souls and blinded them to the hopelessness and fruitlessness of the earthly treasures they are busy stockpiling thus robbing and denying their people life’s basic necessities.

I have accused the EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of being selective in his corruption fight in the past, but I now think that the man and his team are absolutely right in their selective prosecution and investigation strategies. I don’t think that Nigerians should care anymore, why should they when these thieves don’t care about them. They surely deserve whatever selective justice they are getting, for now I believe that Nigerians would be happy and utterly satisfied with half measures from the EFCC considering that these thieves were once considered untouchables in the past, shielded by the immunity granted them by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.

The coming months would be interesting ones in the lives of some of these politicians who would be losing their immunity as they won’t be in government anymore but before then, they should hear General Oladipo Diya’s experience in Germany a few years back, as that might be an indication of the fate that awaits them. The former number two man to the late despot General Sani Abacha narrowly escaped lynching by an irate Nigerian immigrant mob in the town of Essen, West Germany. Diya was visiting an automobile shipping company in the Kettwig area to arrange for the shipment of his cars and was spotted by a Nigerian man who had earlier recognised and tracked him from the train station. Having confirmed that it was Diya alright, he quickly alerted his other friends and other Nigerians over the telephone and within minutes, these Nigerian immigrants resident in a nearby immigration holding facility (Aduro house) stormed the shipping centre hoping to force Diya to surrender

all the money he had on him to them which in their calculations was also their money as it must have come from looted national treasury. However, on noticing unusual activity in the premises, the directors of the company spirited Diya away to safety and alerted the local police.

Peter Odili and his associates should not overrule the possibility of such targeted mob action in the future once they leave their protected kingdoms.

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wukime ovuwene June 16, 2007 - 10:38 am

make una leave odili alone, i guess if you were his relative it would have been a different story… monkey like you

wopara lois February 6, 2007 - 4:59 am

it is a shmae full incident that happen to rivers people if odili can have the mind of stealing this huge amount of money, what would have been is plan if was to be the next president of nigeria by 2008 he would have sold the hole oil well and the human beings in other to satisfys his pocket.odili deserved the greatest pournisment on earth in other to equip the next governor.

AA THH February 5, 2007 - 4:54 pm

Good write up

Barido Nwilene February 3, 2007 - 8:43 pm

what has odili done to derserve all this from nigerians. should the man and his wife walk the streets of port harcourt with shevel and wheel barrow before nigerians will realise how much he has done for the rivers people and nigerians.

Felix A January 28, 2007 - 1:27 am

All you do upon reading this story is shudder. I now strongly believe that we need a very bloody coup to usher in a benevolent dictator with the interest of Nigeria at heart. Democracy has failed us.

opukio amachree January 18, 2007 - 9:32 am

a great article written by a great mind. we need brave people like u who can say the truth inspite of the cost.most rivers prominent people dinning with this thief called odili are a disappointment to the entire rivers people, even the ones yet unborn.odili will forever be remembered as a heartless thief. afterall he is not a rivers man that is why he is indifferent to the sufferings of the rivers people.

Kunle Lumpkin January 16, 2007 - 4:31 pm

The writing is very informative and active. I hope many Nigerians will wake up to come up with their fight for a good society for all to live in.

summer2007 January 13, 2007 - 5:59 pm

Thank you for this article.You have just told us what we ordinary Nigerians as they call us already know.They loot the nations wealth and plunge us further into a backward society where nothing works e.g electricity aka NEPA.etc.We have become a nation Where the educated run abroad and and find themselves doing menial jobs to earn a honest living.

Shame to the thieves.


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