By Kassim Afegbua
On Friday, November 2, 2012, we were treated to a well sketched out but poorly delivered drama piece involving two Nigerians who have been privileged to serve in various capacities before now.
One of the actors; the antagonist in this laughable drama of the absurd, Mr. Steve Orosanye chose to be on the side of government to remind us that the report ably put together by Mr. Nuhu Ribadu-led Task Force on Petroleum was fraught with inaccuracies and inadequacies.
He went further to input that the report did not carry the weight of a dispassionately concluded assignment as earlier spelt out in the terms of reference handed over to the Committee.
Mr. Orosanye was giving us a situation report as “concocted” by him perhaps inside the plane that conveyed him to Abuja. Ribadu had told us that Mr. Orosanye just returned hurriedly that morning from a trip outside Nigeria to participate in the presentation of a report he had earlier compromised his position on.
The drama easily opened a new scene in the entire anecdotal sketches that ended up exposing the rotten underbelly of a nation in search of strong-willed leadership.
It was a daylight ridicule that left the President pretentiously askance as if to tell us he was unaware of the script.
Was the President not aware of the appointment of Mr. Orosanye as a member of the NNPC Board? Was he not aware of the fact that Mr. Orosanye had earlier been appointed as a member of the Ribadu-led Committee and that his appointment into the NNPC Board will compromise his position? What about Mr. Otti, who is known to be a very close friend of the President?
His appointment as Director of Finance of the NNPC might be a deliberate plan to use him to checkmate whatever moves the Ribadu Committee would want to make.
Otherwise, how do you appoint someone to serve in a task force committee that was primarily vested with the powers to look into the activities of NNPC and mid-way into the assignment, you decided to appoint two members of the Task Force into the Board of the concern that is under close scrutiny?
All the pretences and expression of surprise on the face of Mr. President was a punch line to a huge joke. After all, this President does “not give a damn” about assets declaration or making public his declared assets.
Why would any Nigerian take the President’s so-called a vouched commitment to fighting corruption serious, when he has not come to the table with clean hands? I had stated before now that the whole rot and profligacy in the oil sector could best be explained by President Goodluck Jonathan and his campaign handlers.
Never in the history of Nigeria was money deployed heavily on electioneering campaigns’ like we witnessed during the last general election. All the subsidy claims and no subsidy are a matter of pretentiousness.
Why is it that nobody is asking where all that huge and stupendous expenses came from? Or are we that foolish to think that President Jonathan ran his election with his accumulated salaries even if he had not spent a kobo of it since his days as Deputy Governor up till his ascension to the plum position of a President and expect to enjoy such naira rain?
Trying to look into the books of the NNPC is going to be a huge task but the Ribadu Committee has given us a thought for food. And the lesson to take away from this whole exercise is that Nigerians now have adequate information about the workings of the NNPC and its ancillary bodies.
We are now better equipped with copious facts about how rotten the place has turned out to be. We are told of how many companies owe Nigeria money, and why they have refused to pay. The document that is now in the public domain has exposed for once the conspiracy that surrounds the activities of the NNPC.
Thanks to Mr. Nuhu Ribadu who was not carried away by the flight of unreasoning that was careful scripted and acted by Mr. Orosanye. We were told that the report in the public domain was not the authentic until Mallam Ribadu assured us that nothing has changed.
If President Jonathan wants Nigerians to take him serious, he should first of all fire the Petroleum Minister and several others who have become economic liabilities to the nation. He should muster enough courage to do so in the interest of his anti-corruption crusade.
He should appoint Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as Petroleum Minister to help him cleanse the Augean stable which the NNPC and the oil sector have become. If the President can do just that, we would be inching towards the right way of getting rid of corruption.
But if all that we get as a pass mark for our anti-corruption is a statement as dubious as “I don’t give a damn”, we should just rest our case and wait for another regime. We must all give Nuhu Ribadu a pat on the back for rising up to the occasion when economic saboteurs went on rampage. This country will not die a premature death, God’s willing. God bless Nigeria.