The President’s godfather – by Ogaga Ifowodo

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With every twist and turn in the unending saga of Mr. James Onanefe (here's-one-who-brings-wealth) Ibori, ex-governor of Delta State, it becomes clearer that the evil of “godfatherism” in our tattered polity has now been established as the pillar of

national government, as, indeed, the lodestone of Aso Rock.True, no right-thinking Nigerian thought that with the death of Lamidi Adedibu political gangsters had fallen out of favour in our land. Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, publicity secretary of the greatest and richest political party ever formed on earth, declared that the sudden death of Adedibu “created a very big vacuum in the politics of Oyo State and indeed Nigeria.”

The PDP's heartbreak over Adedibu's death was a confession that Yar'Adua, and his predecessor, Obasanjo, always saw Oyo State as a laboratory of dirty power.Whatever worked in Adedibu's fiefdom was to become a model for “capturing” power in any state where passable opposition to the PDP's totalitarian ambitions existed. The outpouring of grief against the public sigh of relief said simply, “What will become of our party if godfatherism is buried with Adedibu?” In order to fill the vacuum and prevent this calamity, the PDP has now announced, by deed, the emergence of Ibori as President Yar'Adua's godfather. On Tuesday, 15 September 2006, Ibori “presided” over a meeting called to discuss the proposed N10 billion national secretariat of the PDP, a planned monument to profligacy.

Ibori who has been shielded by Yar'Adua from every charge of embezzlement and money laundering, both at home and abroad, is known to be the PDP's “main financier.” At the meeting, according to the NEXT account the following day, were high-powered government officials, including Remi Babalola, Minister of State in Finance, and Shamsudeen Uthman, Minister for National Economic Planning.Since the meeting's sole agenda was how to raise the needed billions for the PDP's tower of greed, it is safe to assume that Ibori, the party's deepest purse, was the actual presiding officer.

The deliberations were at Yar'Adua's behest and are to be reviewed by him.Ibori couldn't have demanded a better gesture to call the bluff of the British government. Earlier in the year when the astonishingly wealthy ex-governor's case with the London Metropolitan Police made torrid headlines and the Halliburton bribe scandal was blown open in the United States, I had begun a piece titled “The Anti-Corruption Game,” published in The Guardian of 27 April 2009, as follows: “Clearly, the greatest embarrassments Yar'Adua has suffered regarding his willingness to combat the gloating evil of official corruption have come from these two countries. ...

That Yar'Adua has yet to openly declare a turf war must be due, I suspect, to the little matter of the appropriate diplomatese for doing so.In what decipherable language can a president confess to the world that it isn't his country's staggering corruption that gives him sleepless nights but, rather, how to keep the scandals secret?” I had wrongly presumed the president would squirm to appear insincere. A momentary fog over reason, I believe, caused by the ruse of his voluntary asset declaration a thousand moons ago.

Now, of course, Yar'Adua has told the busybody British and American governments in unmistakable terms to mind their business. After all, the era of slavery and colonialism is over. His justice minister, the ultra-patriotic Michael Aondoakaa, will not, repeat, will not, hand over any citizen of our beloved country, not the least, James Ibori and his henchman in Aso Rock, David Edevbie, to a foreign authority for trial.No matter the number and magnitude of crimes for which said citizen may stand indicted in a court of law. And having instructed - or, at any rate, condoned - Aondoakaa's unilateral verdict of Not Guilty, Yar'Adua next invited the innocent and much maligned main financier of his party to the seat of power for serious matters of state. Never mind that Ibori financed the president's party, and, so, purloined the mandate, with stolen money.

That is how godfathers are made, as Adedibu's war with Governor Ladoja who would not hand over the Oyo State coffers to him showed us.Given the irrevocable bond that existed between Adedibu and Obasanjo, we may well remind Yar'Adua of the old saying, “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” Now Yar'Adua has given Ibori an iron-cast guarantee of non-prosecution during the tenure of his government, thereby making him almost as untouchable as the king of them all, Ibrahim Babangida. Surely, those who call for Aondoakaa's sack miss the point. By inviting Ibori to Aso Rock, Yar'Adua not only boasted his godfather to the whole world but also carried out a far worse act of money laundering than what the British police and the EFCC have alleged. Mercifully, the president has finally ended all pretensions of a war against corruption. It was about time!

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