The Buhari gospel, according to St. Obasanjo
By Johnson Momodu
I have always been one of those who pooh-poohed former Vice President Atiku Abubakar anytime he sought to curry public sympathy over the manner in which his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, harassed him with investigations, in desperate bids to shoot down his political career.
But like Malam Nuhu Ribadu, I guess I have to apologise to Atiku, not because I think he is clean as a whistle as he wants us to believe, but because I now believe that his former boss was unfair to him.
Why do I make this claim? Read Obasanjo during a meeting with All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains: “I haven't said this publicly, I would say it publicly now. When we looked into it [PTF], there was really nothing amiss except that that organisation went from road building to mosquito net buying and all sorts of things. And what the investigation discovered is a bit of inconsistency in prices and all that. In one area, mosquito net might have been given for N50; in another, N45. And then… that this is fishy. We should look into it.
“And I called my brother and colleague [Buhari]; I said this and he said look, we are managing billions of Naira and I tried to make sure I see everything. But I will not say that what they have said about this is correct or not correct. But I can assure you I tried to see everything. I said okay. Muhammadu, between me, you and God, was there any personal benefit for you? And you said no. I said that is the end of the matter.
“Although there was that investigation, its report was not of any material importance. I thought that I should say it today that I have this opportunity because I hope people will face issues rather than trivialities. On occasion like this, issues are very important.”
While Obasanjo hounded many others, like Adolphus Wabara, over N45m, with his famed anti-corruption crusade, and passed them through the grill, he sat with Buhari, perhaps in his office, and agreed with him that he was not corrupt. What a way to run a country as large as Nigeria by a man who wants to be addressed as a statesman.
To him, the goose and the gander do not deserve equal treatment, yet that Haroun Adamu Report he denigrated as immaterial was unequivocal in its summation that Buhari did not run the place as he should. It appears that espirit de corps played a major role in the way that Obasanjo handled all matters having to do with his military constituency.
Perhaps, that explains why Generals like Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Muhammadu Buhari were never forensically x-rayed under Obasanjo, while others suffered the indignities of thorough investigations during his eight years.
That report which Obasanjo swept under the carpet and glibly referred to as immaterial accused Buhari of empowering Afri-Projects Consortium (APC) in such a manner that caused this APC to undermine financial regulations and cause huge financial losses to the government, yet a man of Obasanjo's standing did not see anything wrong in this.
Did he bother to find out, as has been noted elsewhere, whether nepotism played a role in this choice of one company to handle matters that government officials were capable of handling?
Other excerpts from the Haroun Adamu Committee report which put a lie to Obasanjo's assertion read thus:
* The total public funds to be recovered from various contractors, banks and consultants amounted to about Twenty five billion, seven hundred and fifty eight million five hundred and thirty two thousand four hundred and forty eight Naira.
*Afri-Project Consortium were contracted by PTF as Management Consultants and Project Consultants. The former Chairman of PTF also delegated to them the power of Engineer in all appropriate project requiring such power. Afriproject Consortium then assumed an absolute power of initiation, approval and execution of all projects.
*Three reputable management consulting firms were engaged to verify all payments made to (APC) from the inception of PTF up to 30th September, 1999. On verification it was found that they have over charged PTF for their services to the tune of N 2, 057, 550, 062 (Two billion fifty seven million five hundred and fifty thousand and sixty two Naira only).
*The total sum of N 11, 658, 532, 448 (Eleven billion, six hundred and fifty eight million, five hundred and thirty two thousand four hundred and forty eight Naira only) is recoverable as per various reports completed as at now.
For Obasanjo to mount the high moral ground and seek to exonerate a man who went to sleep while his relatives, or companies owned by his relatives, were robbing Nigeria blind is nothing but the hypocrisy which the former President has been recently accused of.
In his blind battle to undo Goodluck Jonathan whom he worked so hard, for good or for bad, to foist on the country, Obasanjo has taken the route to infamy. But then, only posterity will help us to sift those who deserve to be called statesmen.
Momodu sent this piece from Benin City via [email protected]
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