By Ochereome Nnanna
IF President Goodluck Jonathan will lose his bid for re-election he will have only himself to blame. It will not be because of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s laughable political busybody antics, whereby he pretends to still have the clout to determine whom to give power to or take from.
It will not be due to Northern sectional political warlords who deliriously believe they still have the power and divine right to rule and to give and take power from anyone of their choosing.
If Jonathan fails to be re-elected, it will be because Nigerians, by 2015, will be so fed up with his perceived lack of firm leadership (which masquerades in a myriad of corruption and allegations of corruption within and around his government) that they will vote for Anyone-But-Jonathan, ABJ. This might include Islamic fundamentalist, Muhammadu Buhari. Jonathan and his ethnic kinsmen may provide the “banana peel” for his downfall unless the President gets up and takes action against the high corruption perception around his regime.
The Federal Government has not cleared the air on the allegation that over N5 trillion(or nearly $35 billion!) has been stolen, embezzled or defrauded from our coffers and petroleum resources within just 30 months of the Jonathan era (May 2010 and now). That’s more than this year’s federal budget and enough fund to reverse our national infrastructural deficit. Also, the regime has not reacted in any way to allegations that certain ministers have not lived above board.
Stories have been circulating about the Minister of the Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe’s alleged Abuja mansions said to be “gifts” by contractors. I hope these won’t turn out to be Greek gifts. Of particular mention is a magnificent “multi-billion naira” edifice in highbrow Mabushi, allegedly donated to Orubebe by a construction company. We have waited for Orubebe to respond to these allegations but we have been met by deafening silence. We want Orubebe to open up to us. Silence will not do him – or the rest of us – any good. Happily enough, the House of Representatives has set up committees to probe these allegations. We eagerly look forward to his appearance and response.
Orubebe’s case is pathetic considering that his Ministry has not done much to reduce the developmental challenges of the Niger Delta; in particular the East – West Road. A Ministry of Niger was one of the trumpeted panaceas to the problems of the region during the dark days of armed militancy. Now that we have it and Niger Deltans as President and Minister, we wonder why we are no further than where we were.
A second minister recently joined the queue of Jonathan’s men accused of participating in defrauding the nation through the odious subsidy claims. His name is Chief Emeka Wogu. He is obviously a privileged Jonathan minister, having come back to a second term in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity after the 2011 elections, just as Orubebe did. Is it not strange that it is these ministers who were reappointed on their presumed meritorious handling of their respective portfolios during Jonathan’s “interim” presidency that are now being connected with this mess?
Wogu is reported to own one Pinnacle Contractors Ltd, which allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of N2.7 billion in the petrol subsidy racket. However, unlike Orubebe who has remained mute, Wogu mandated a hapless civil servant to debunk the allegation, saying he had sold his stake in the company before the alleged crime was committed. A Doubting Thomas on Nairaland, a discussion forum on the Net, asked whether Pinnacle was like manufacturing giants, Dangote Cement that someone should find it of interest to buy!
Advocacy groups and the Conference of Political Parties, CNPP, have commendably joined the swelling voices of well-meaning Nigerians calling for Wogu’s real involvement in this scandal to be probed. I am on the same proverbial page with them. This same Wogu is, incidentally, the Chairman of the White Paper Committee on the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, PRSTF, which was headed by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. It is saddled with the job of checking if companies like Pinnacle is guilty as the Ribadu Committee and others indicated.
It makes sense that Wogu must step down from this Committee, as he cannot be a judge over a case in which he is an accused.
Most observers of the Wogu saga are not convinced that selling his stake in Pinnacle Contractors (which an advocacy group led by Dino Melaye, has traced to Wogu’s family) automatically means he will no longer “play” for them from his privileged position in the Jonathan government. It also does not necessarily mean he will. This is why we must find out if he did. We want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That’s all.
It is important for us the settle the Wogu/Orubebe cases quickly and decisively not only because they are serving ministers but also because each of them is reportedly eyeing the government houses of their states come the next election.
If indeed they have questionable baggage we must not allow them to vie for any post in 2015, especially as Wogu and Orubebe are already touting themselves as Jonathan’s anointed candidates. This is why they must level with the public, pronto. We are waiting and watching.
Unless the President clears these corruption allegations concerning his officials he will not be able to escape the consequences of their actions come 2015. Even Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a “saint” by Nigerian standards, never did. The other day President Jonathan advised ministers and political appointees with political ambition to quit now. No one has done so, yet most of them are actively stoking up financially and otherwise for electoral contests in 2015, mainly at the expense of the public treasury.
If they will not go willingly why not show them the way to the gate before they damage this government?