THE NATION FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2012
EDITORIAL/OPINION “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” ¯ Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th US President)
HE unfurling bribery scandal between Lawan Farouk and Femi Otedola is a classical exemplar depicting the saying that to live and be prospering is to be haunted. Lawan is an eloquent veteran lawmaker while Otedola is a capitalist owner of Zenon oil that is ready to undo anything that would stand in his way of maximising profit in his chosen oil business. Lawan must have underestimated this man when he was carrying out his duty as Chairman of House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the probe of management of fuel subsidy funds in the country. Earlier in the week, Femi Otedola visited the Nigerian Police Special Task Force (STF) to formally report that he actually gave as bribe $620,000 to Farouk Lawan as the Chairman of the Ad Hoc probe Committee on Fuel Subsidy regime. He wants the police to ensure that Lawan brings the exact State Security Service (SSS) marked dollar bills he (Otedola) gave him. But Lawan has refused to tender the money, saying it is his proof that Otedola tried to bribe him-the lawmaker has not shown up before the STF despite his reported invitation by the police. Lawan might find it difficult to extricate himself of criminal liability in this case because the House exposed his earlier denial of collecting the bribe only to be reportedly shocked when he was confronted with the video of the shady transaction which security agencies allegedly made available to the House leadership. He was reported to have collected in person $500,000 from Otedola while the committee’s secretary later allegedly collected a balance of$120,000 from Otedola’s Abuja home on behalf of the Representative. Lawan was not yet reported to have shared the money amongst the members of the committee. Curiously too, he kept the money for 60 days without divulging its collection to anyone until the scandal burst. He should not go down alone for playing into the hands of his enemies which from all indications point in the direction of the central administration that is hell bent in ensuring that fuel subsidy, that the probe report had exposed to be phantom, is removed from the sale of petroleum products in the country. Otedola as a bribe giver too in a matter that affects his interest negatively should face the full wrath of the law. Otedola’s infamous act
F you throw a feast for your people they will eat it all up to the last morsel but should your people cook for you, surely you will be gorged with food. This is the wise saying of Ndigbo and it holds true for the ongoing stand-off between Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and his counterparts from the other states of the Southeast. The story is abroad how the occupier of Douglas House in Owerri engaged in a fish-wife bickering with his colleague in Umuahia, Abia State, not over a matter of state, but over a small issue of protocol. We also hear that the Imo governor who is just one year old in office is hardly on talking terms with his brother governor in Anambra who happens to be in the same party with him and who is also the chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum. On two consecutive occasions this year, Governor Okorocha has shunned the meeting of the Southeast governors which gather as the need arises, to deliberate on issues affecting the zone. By the same token, the governor who was overwhelmingly voted into office, has not been visible in such strategic gatherings as the National Economic Council, among others. We are too few to engage in an internecine warfare, is another Igbo wisecrack. If there is any group in Nigeria today that must bond together and act as one, it is Ndigbo. Especially so now when the drum of regionalism beats stridently across the country and no one is sure what tomorrow portends. For an okorocha who has hungered for high office in the last two decades, his first year as governor has been rather disappointing even though not entirely a failure one must admit. While one sees a boundless zeal to upgrade infrastructure and develop the state, his method is much flawed and he runs the state as if it were a motor parts shop. He has run the state in the last one year with warped procedures and processes; he has acted like an overlord passing down ill-digested ideas and brainwaves. Examples abound but few will suffice: he woke up one day to insist that civil servants in Imo State must turn out to work in suit; black suit at that under the tropical African sun. For what purpose, to what end? He woke up another day and decreed that civil servants must earn their keep. Great idea, but must be carefully worked out and implemented; distinguishing the commercial enter-
Lawan-gate: When hunter becomes the hunted
•Farouk Lawan and the discredited conduct of Lawan, in the light of existing evidence, that is everything but honourable, should not under whatever circumstances, be allowed by President Goodluck Jonathan and other protagonists of fuel subsidy removal, to diminish the sanctity of that highly revealing fuel probe report. If the probe report had favoured Otedola and his cabal friends, one is cocksure that he would not have brought in the security angle; just like if the burble had not burst, Lawan too would not have reported the matter to the House leadership. The matter is what can be described as a game of two devils- One a pretending democrat, the other, an avowed establishment person. Head or tail, the nation
loses. Otedola needs to be informed in case he has forgotten that under the laws of the country, the giver and the taker of bribe are both culpable. His excuse that he embarked on the act to show that he was pressurized against his will to part with the money is balderdash. His claim of being aware of the implications before the law is equally empty. The truth of the matter is that there must have been meeting of the minds between the two but perhaps because of whatever doubt the oil man might have or nursed about the integrity of Lawan to deliver prompted him to bug every interaction he had with the lawmaker. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Otedola in this particular instance agreed to this sting operation with the State Security Service (SSS) not because of his love to uphold systemic probity in the country but because of his resolve alongside other oil marketing cabals to either get the probe report of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime to favour their clique or if things turns awry like it has become in the present situation, to malign reputations of members of the committee and to ultimately rubbish the report emanating there-from- Himself and fellow conspirators will not succeed in this regard. If those in power are haunted by their misdeeds, then the powerful should not blame anyone for they are paying the price of their crass indulgence. Paul Rodriguez once
EXPRESSO STEVE OSUJI
SMS O8181624757, email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. Okorocha versus the Southeast prises from the social and phasing the processes. Major contracts are awarded on mere word of mouth and the delicate art of statecraft is put in abeyance. The mother of all aberrant action is his newfangled Community Council Government also known as the fourth tier of government. Perhaps it may be salutary and beneficial to create many more levels of administration but again, it has to be carefully worked out and implemented over time. But that is not the method of Governor Okorocha; workers are simply yanked off their seats and sent to their villages as staff of a 4th tier government that has neither structure nor basis. The question, is what has he done with the second and third tiers he already has? Has he succeeded with them by any inch? Has he applied his budget to the letter in the last one year? How much allocation has he received on behalf of the 27 local government areas in Imo state and how much did he disburse to them in one year? All these are stories for another day but they are pointers to his attitude at the zonal and federal levels. Ndigbo never needed leaders like they do now. Igboland is today, in the wilderness – politically speaking; it is like a headless body thrashing… The Governors’ Forum is all that is left and no matter how ineffectual it may be, boycotting it does not make it better. Okorocha must fix it from within as he cannot achieve much as a lone ranger. Attempting to form some opportunistic body with jobbers and charlatans will not
help either. Especially now that our good old Ohaneze Ndigbo is comatose having been consigned to one obscure corner of Aso Rock where its present leadership led it to. Governor Okorocha hasn’t got all the time in the world. If he really wants to leave the kind of legacy he desires, he must retrace his steps, take a sober review of the first one year. He should stick to the basics, which is to draw up realistic budgets and implement them to the letter. Of course he must curtail his political ambition, shun greed and cut corruption to the minimum. He must think global and cooperate with his fellow Southeast leaders. These are the recipe for success.
The Peter Obi-Umeh tango
Comparatively, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State has put up a commendable performance. In spite of Nasir el Rufai’s mischievous comment, Anambra is perhaps, the toughest state to govern in Nigeria. Why is it so? Methinks it is because it boasts of the highest number of moneyed people in the country but with many of them lacking good sense and political savvy. In fact being an Igboman with immense means and dabbling into politics could be most calamitous especially where there are numerous such people. Ask the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra the demon that is often unleashed during election time; it is simply unmanageable mayhem. Why do you think Obi has not held local government elections in six years? He simply
described hunting as not being a sport because ‘in a sport, both sides should know they’re in the game.’ I doubt if Lawan realised earlier enough that that huge dollars that he bargained with Otedola was a bait to nail him for his double personality. When their minds met, he must inadvertently have focussed his own senses outside this fact. To the public, he is an articulate no nonsense lawmaker but behind the klieg light, the man is a smooth operator- a legislative ruse. Whether good or bad, there is a price for everything under the sky. It is almost certain that a judge no matter how long will one day be faced with seeking justice that he once dispensed on people; that a governor will one day be governed by another when out of office; that a president will have another person preside over his affairs; that the dictator will one day be dictated to and that the hunter will become the hunted. The day has come for Lawmaker Farouk Lawan, veteran member of the House of Representatives to face the consequences of the law he has helped to make for the country in over a decade. The House should be that of honourable members and not that of dishonourable men and women. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once described legislators in the nation as thieves. Just barely a month ago, a N44 million bribery allegation is levelled against Herman Hembe, former chairman of the house committee on capital market, who allegedly demanded the money from now suspended Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Arunma Otteh. I just hope Obasanjo is not laughing at the turn of events today in the national assembly. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States (1953-61) and the supreme commander of the Allied forces in western Europe during World War II might be right afterall when he aphoristically declared several decades ago that: ”The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” Indeed, a big scapegoat had be made in Lawan Farouk in the Nigerian systemic grand conspiracy and big hunt championed by Otedola, to discredit the probe report that is expected to nip the death of protagonists of fuel subsidy removal in the bud. For maintaining a double personality, the hunter and the leader of the ‘integrity group,’ this time around has indeed, become the hunted.
cannot. It is not humanly possible. The entire state could conflagrate in the attempt to hold any LGA election in Anambra today or even in the near future. While Governor Obi has managed to hold the state together and put in a modicum of good work, he got his politics all mixed up. He is simply not a politician. He failed to build the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) that provided him the pedestal he has stood upon all these years. A political party is like marriage, what you put in is what you get out. Gov Obi neglected APGA and now that he has to go, APGA may have to go with him and that will be a shame. But there is still some ray of hope. He must reconcile with Chief Victor Umeh, the chairman of the party who stood by him through thick and thin. In spite of Umeh’s flaws Obi must work with him and quickly work out a consensus with him on APGA’s governorship candidate in the next election. As it is, PDP has almost stolen the thunder in the state so Obi must play the politics: reconcile, empower and mobilize. Is it not strange that nobody is decamping to APGA as we see happen with ruling parties in other states? LAST MUG: To Prof. Jemie on his birth day :if the information one gleaned from a listing is correct,then Professor Onwuchekwa Jemie was 72 years on the June 3rd. I raise my glass to a distant mentor and a gentleman of the pen who schooled at Columbia and Harvard before we discovered they were Ivy-league and who taught at Purdue, CUNY and Swathmore. The one who brought so much light to The Guardian newspaper in those early, heady days. May you live long sir.
‘He woke up another day and decreed that civil servants must earn their keep. Great idea, but must be carefully worked out and implemented; distinguishing the commercial enterprises from the social and phasing the processes’
The Nation June 15, 2012