The War against Corruption: Obasanjo's Oily hands!

A report in Thisday, a Nigerian daily, described the feud between Nigeria’s President Obasanjo and his deputy, Vice President Atiku, as mere rumours. The report, which was published on September 9, quoted Olabode George, a former military officer and deputy chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as saying that the feud is, “A creation of the media.” Should Nigerians be surprised by this attempt at whitewashing a serious problem concerning the affairs of the Nigerian State by the top echelon of the PDP?

The PDP, under the leadership of President Obasanjo, appropriated Nigeria’s resources and has continued to manage these as they would a personal estate. Any attempt by the Nigerian people to call this cabal to order is met with the generic refrain: “It’s a family affair.” It is as if Nigeria ceased to exist the moment Obasanjo and his people came to power. And when their idiosyncrasies cause problems for them and the nation? They call it “a creation of the media.” During the ignoble days of the military, all Nigeria’s problems were caused by “disgruntled elements.” It appears the General continues to borrow from both Gen. Babangida and Abacha’s playbook!

Elendureports.com can authoritatively report that the feud between Pres. Obasanjo and Vice Pres. Atiku Abubakar is real and growing. The President’s loyalists are burning midnight candles plotting Atiku’s downfall. Many options have been discussed, agreed upon, and discarded. But the plotting continues in this high stakes game. Some of the results of the plotting can be seen in the various stories that have been leaked by the President’s people to media houses. The most damaging one so far has been the Newswatch story which chronicled the Vice President’s corrupt practices with the active collusion of his fourth wife, Jennifer. Ironically, when Elendureports.com first reported the Atiku and Jennifer story, a top Newswatch editor, Soji Akinrinade, derided the story and described the writers as “half-baked journalists.” The Newswatch report, from all indications, is a series of half-truths blown out of proportion. Elendureports.com has information to show that while the Vice President may be complicit in some of the allegations reported by Newswatch, the reporting is a celebration of exaggerated inertia.

Atiku, as has been reported by the Nigerian media, is set to give the President a serious fight. In this regard, Elendureports.com investigations show that the Vice President has employed the services of several investigators around the world in an attempt to unravel every investment the President and his family have made since 1999. The Vice President and some of his surrogates have met with several important Nigerians within and outside the country to state his case. The Vice President is also employing the services of Nigerian web bloggers in this fight. The Vice President may have recently met with Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka. A request for an interview with Prof. Wole Soyinka was recently turned down as the professor is said to be in Nigeria currently.

Apart from the need for Obasanjo to establish his political clout within and outside his party, crude oil is one of the reasons the relationship between the President and his Vice is soiled. According to a report by Africa Confidential, the latest auctioning of Nigeria’s oil blocks did not benefit the Vice President and his cronies. However the President’s men/women were adequately taken care of. Although the report in the Africa Confidential commends the Obasanjo Administration for providing more information than its predecessors, there were some indications that the bid for oil blocks was another “settlement” policy. The paper states, “…documents obtained by Africa Confidential raise concerns about the technical expertise and political connections of many of the Nigerian companies eligible to bid.”

Shell and some of the other major oil companies refused to participate in the bidding. While more than one hundred companies were approved to compete for the ten per cent blocks reserved for smaller indigenous companies, there was a lot of criticism about the process that led to the qualification of oil companies, and the exclusion of twenty-two others. Some of these companies that bid had no experience in the oil industry. There are reports that some of the companies were registered for the sole purpose of the bid as they were not in existence until a few days before the bid. According to Africa Confidential, “Many of those qualifying to participate owe more to political connections than technical know-how.”

Former Aviation Minister and Obasanjo’s pal, Kema Chikwe, is the major share holder of Prime Time, one of the companies that qualified for onshore oil blocks. A former teacher, Chikwe did not have a previous interest in or link to the oil industry. Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel and Otunba Onabanjo are said to be the promoters of Dogon Oil and Gas, one of the companies that rushed into the bid process. Some members of the National Assembly were not left out of the “settlement” process. Senator Lee Maeba of Rivers State, whose committee oversees the Upstream Petroleum activities, is said to be the promoter of New Tigerhead, one of the companies involved in the bidding.

Other Obasanjo cronies involved in these oil deals are Gov. Peter Odili of Rivers State, Minister of State for Petroleum and shareholder of Platform Oil; Edmond Daukoru; Andy Uba, Presidential Adviser; and, Abdullahi Mohammed, Chief of Staff to the President. The list of companies also involved in these deals includes Godsonic Oil and Gas, Tap Oil, and Owel E
&P; all companies linked to Anthony Annenih, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP. Another company is Overt Oil. The disgraced former Senate President Adolphus Wabara has interests in this company.

The practice of bribing people with oil allocations is not new. The Ibrahim Babangida Junta (1985-1993) made it a State policy. The President/Head of State, his deputy, Service Chiefs, and some top ministers were given oil allocations. Subsequent regimes have continued this trend. In the fourth Republic, the Obasanjo government, according to sources, has allocated oil blocks to the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Defence Minister, and Service Chiefs.

The disappointment for many watchers of the Obasanjo Presidency is that he consistently touts his Anti-Corruption Crusade, yet he continues to perpetrate corruption at alarming levels. In an exclusive interview with Elendureports.com, former Head of State and Presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari said, “Chief Obasanjo cannot be serious about fighting corruption…how did Tarfa Balogun, the former Inspector-General of Police, acquire over seventeen billion naira in so short a time…where was the President?” The General’s contention is that if one man in the Administration can acquire so much within a few years then his boss, the President, cannot be trusted to wage war on corruption.

Gen. Buhari wondered wha

t led to the contradictory situation where Nigeria is supposedly making more money than it has ever made and yet the common people have become the poorest they have ever been. A recent UN report ranks Nigeria as the twentieth poorest country in the world with a life expectancy of 43 years, down from 54 years. The current budget, passed by the Nigerian National Assembly and signed into law by the President, had projected the price of crude oil at $28 a barrel. As at press time, crude is selling for nearly $70 per barrel. This is a time of unprecedented earnings for Nigeria. Yet, the level of unemployment and poverty is the highest it has ever been in the history of Nigeria, except for the period of the Nigerian Civil War. What has happened to all the money? The President and his friends ought to be held accountable.

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