Why is the North giving us bad leaders who are either stealing our country dry or too sick to govern? After fifty years of failed leadership produced mainly by the North: Gowon, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Atiku, Yar’Adua, we urgently need a breather from the crooked, dim and spent mob that over the period, collectively and systematically brought Nigeria down to her knees, destroyed our hopes, and turned our prospects as a people into painful despair.
I do not think the North is short of quality materials. After all, while the South gave us Awo and Zik, the North produced leaders in the mold of the Sarduana and Murtala Muhammad. So why are characters like Babangida, Buhari, Atiku still fronting for the North now that Nigeria has reached the edge of the grave they dug for her? Does the North so desperately want our quick demise?
All that Babangida, (nicknamed IBB), has to show for his over eight years in power in Nigeria, is private colossal wealth, and the edification of corruption in our body politics. The book, The Sink, by Jeffrey Robinson, an American writer, says it all about Babangida. “Of the $120 billion siphoned out of the Nigerian treasury into offshore accounts by dishonest politicians, $20 billion is allegedly traceable to IBB directly as president from 1985 to 1993.” The Wolfsberg Principles, an initiative of 11 banks and institutions across the world to fight serious international financial crimes, traced another $3 billion of our stolen money to Babangida’s accounts abroad, and $4.3 billion to Abacha’s. The World Bank and other international sources of information allege that his total loot from the Nigerian treasury is over $35 billion. Now he is threatening to use a fraction of that money to return to power and his cronies have mentioned a figure of N400 billion as his campaign chest.
The Gulf war oil windfall is Babangida’s often-referenced loot. Abacha set up a panel headed by the highly respected economist, Pius Okigbo, in October 1994, to reorganize the CBN. Okigbo’s panel discovered that $12.2 billion of the $12.4 billion accruable from the Gulf War excess crude oil sales was frittered away or unaccounted for, through nebulous or phantom projects that could not be traced. Only $206 million was left in the account. According to Okigbo, “disbursements were clandestinely undertaken while the country was openly reeling with crushing external debt overhead. These represent, no matter the initial justification for creating the account, a gross abuse of public trust. ”
John Fashanu, in a private investigation published in African Confidential early in Obasanjo’s current regime, discovered an alleged $6 billion debt buy-back scam by IBB between 1988 and 1993. Another $14.4 billion disappeared into off shore accounts as currency stabilization and debt buy-back scheme that actually cost $2.5 billion. One of the front-companies used, Growth Management, based in London, bought the debt for 10 cents per dollar and resold to the government at 45 cents to steal 35 cents per dollar. Fashanu was trying to recover about $17 billion for the Nigerian government only for the CBN to say they had no records of the deals. The records are out there abroad but cleaned out at home to conceal the (theft) deals.
Babangida was ruthless in the way he amassed his colossal wealth. First is the illegal self-allocation of free oil, sold on the spot market. Then he initiated the corrupt culture of maintaining a huge monthly security vote virtually as personal pocket money. Rather than repair our refineries, let alone to work at maximum capacity, IBB built private refineries in Cote d’Ivoire and the Republic of Benin, where he took our crude to refine and sell back to us as fuel.
Luscious contracts for the construction of Abuja were awarded to front-companies of his and his cronies, including Julius Berger and Arab Contractors that between them virtually single-handedly handled the construction of the new Federal Capital. The security danger of foreign companies solely constructing a country’s capital and having access to its structural secrets, including possible Presidential underground escape routes and military arsenal volts, is mind boggling to say the least, but that is an issue for another day.
Although Babangida used mostly fictitious names for his numerous accounts abroad, EFCC could zero in on some of the accounts by following up on the dusts raised early in 2003 over the financing of his GLOBACOM. Documents on the loan supposed to have been granted on 9 February 2001, were dated 28 August 2006. The original ‘loan’ letter has not been presented. Apparently, Paribas Bank, based in Paris, was managing a slush fund from which investments in excess of US$400 million was made to buy into Alcatel (Globacom’s technical partners), Bouygues Telecoms, Peugeot and Total finaelf.
Alcatel and Parabel National of France were worried at the time that their invoices for the telecom project were being inflated to launder funds by the supposed private owners of the sources of funds and that private cheques were being issued to finance the staggering project without recourse to borrowing from banks. They suspected illegal laundering of funds and threatened to withdraw collaboration on the project while alerting Interpol to investigate the sources of the private cheques being issued to finance the project. IBB could not participate in Obasanjo’s 2003, inauguration ceremonies, because he was allegedly out of the country sorting out the Interpol queries on the Alcatel’s slush account alert, at the time. Even now, the telecoms’ financing details through Siemens etc could be investigated by the EFCC tracing ghost cheques to issuing private sources of funds and their local and international banks to unravel possible laundering of funds.
There is this strong allegation among the rank and file of the armed forces, and members of the defense correspondence of our newspapers attached to the seat of power, that Babangida arranged, in the last couple of weeks before leaving office, for several armoured vehicle loads of newly printed naira notes to be delivered daily to his new Minna palatial abode obviously with the connivance of Abacha, perhaps as his mentor’s retirement benefit. Abacha and Babangida had several serious financial problems with Abiola but one of them takes the cake. It was over some foreign war booty amounting to US$215m. It is alleged that Babangida had asked Abiola to help launder it when Babangida was in office but Abiola was not interested.
Babangida allegedly sidestepped Abiola and eventually prevailed upon a member of Abiola’s family in the custom of family friendship, to rescue the situation. Then the person suddenly died. It is further alleged that Abiola was asked to return the money and he truthfully and honestly said he knew nothing about it and even if there was such a thing, he had no authority over the matter. Then he was asked to pressurize the children of the deceased to play ball. Abiola refused, arguing that he had no legal or moral right to do so. The kids of the deceased wanted Abiola released but Abiola was too principled to succumb to blackmail so the powers that be decided early after his arrest, that he would die in detention for declaring himself president.
Perhaps you would want to join me to play the prude accountant, generous with figures. Let’s pretend that Babangida was a General throughout his service years in the Nigerian army. Again let’s assume he spent 30 years in the army and was paid N100, 000 monthly (actually, salaries of Generals were less than N10, 000 a month until recently) and he saved every kobo of his salary. He would be worth about N35, 000,000 plus interest in the bank today. But Babangida’s 50 bedroom palatial abode in Minna is alleged to be conservatively worth billions of naira and he does not owe any bank on it. The largest, most prestigious housing estate in Alexandra, Egypt’s leading holiday resort town is alleged to belong to Babangida. Even Egyptians cannot afford his rent, which is alleged to be in dollars. All his tenants are rich foreigners and the staff of multi-national companies operating in Alexandra. The estate is alleged to have its own airport, which Babangida uses when he visits in his private jet.
Babangida is alleged to own several other housing estates around the world, including houses on Bishop Avenue in London. He uses his London houses; it is alleged, as guesthouses or gifts for people on his compromise list. He is considered generous with gifts of cars with their boots stuffed with naira notes when he wants some jobs done.
In the area of managing the national economy, Babangida bestowed his adroitness and moral degeneracy. His economy was dominated by male-wives, particularly in the banking and oil sectors. Women often brag about the efficacy of ‘bottom’ power. Feminine men sometimes flaunt it too as their passport to economic liberation. Between them and the suddenly very lucrative 419 business of the time, industry was complete. IBB’s chiefs, allegedly colluded with 419 criminals to create the over-night semi-illiterate moneybags without class or shame, (including the 150 members of the National Assembly, that in 2005 sent IBB a birthday card), and who together now form the bulk of his supporters and campaigners, to return him to power. Babangida (sapped) or totally wiped the middle class out of existence with the destruction of the naira, which he did by fiat in 1985, when he down graded the naira exchange rate from about N2 to N18 to the dollar. By the time he was forced out of office in 1993, the naira was exchanging at N60 to the dollar. Society was reduced to two social classes of either the very poor or the rich rogues. Babangida should be heading for Kirikiri not Aso Rock because the fight against corruption is a sham otherwise.
Shagari’s regime (1979-1983), incurred Buhari’s wrath when it decided to investigate the US$2.8 billion that disappeared from the Midland Bank, London account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation, (NNPC), during General Obasanjo’s era as military head of state that preceded Shagari’s. Dr. Olusola Saraki, Turaki of Ilorin, was the majority party leader of the Senate at the time and he headed the Senate Committee set up to trace the stolen money after some three years of clamour for such an investigation by members of the civil society. The money was traced to the Midland Bank London branch fixed account of Buhari, Obasanjo’s appointee as military head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company. The Committee’s report was presented to the Senate during the tail end of Shagari’s regime in 1983, so the House decided to deal with the matter soon after the 1983 general elections.
The attempt at civilian-to-civilian transition provided the fillip for mayhem at the time. Massive rigging marred the elections because incumbent political office holders were refusing to slacken their stranglehold on Nigeria Plc., mortgaged as the leaders private property. On the 31st December 1983, Buhari struck under the cover of the political commotion that trailed the presidential election results. Buhari generally had no agenda for leadership but vendetta against those he called critics and rabble-rousers. Buhari did not see any moral wrong in his conversion of our oil money into his personal use. Rather he railed at the press and what he described as the self-righteous sections of the country for making a big deal out of the issue. He locked up without trial, politicians and critics including Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, notorious for clamouring for the exposure of the oil money rogue. Satire saved my neck at the time. Vera Ifudu, who was an NTA reporter, then, was sacked through his prodding as military ruler, for reporting what Dr. Olusola Saraki had told her in an interview about how the missing money was traced to Buhari’s account at a Midland Bank London branch. Vera eventually won her case of wrongful dismissal in court against the NTA and was financially compensated.
Abacha rehabilitated Buhari with the chairmanship of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) before he (Abacha) died in 1998. When Obasanjo returned to power in May 1999 as civilian president, he found that over 2.5 billion naira had not been properly accounted for in the PTF and that there was not much on the ground to show for the colossal expenditure the agency was claiming. On the day Obasanjo announced the scrapping of the PTF, a non-staff brother-in-law of the boss, allegedly serving as his conduit on some PTF projects, died suddenly from what appeared to be heart failure. Haruna Adamu, who was appointed by Obasanjo to investigate the PTF before finally consigning it to the dung heap, allegedly quickly pocketed one hundred million naira of PTF’s money before operating table could be set up for him, thus forcing Obasanjo to hurriedly close the place down without further investigations. Buhari has been trying desperately since to return to power, perhaps to get a chance to shred the PTF documents?
The accusation in 1999/2000 that the president’s deputy, Atiku Abubakar, privatized Nigeria Incorporated to himself was not investigated because Obasanjo’s third term ambition was not strong at the time. Atiku denied ownership of African Petroleum (AP), which in the end turned out to be a bobby trap, laced with huge hidden debt, and was re-acquired by the government through the NNPC. However, Atiku was seen as a product of the Nigerian corrupt system. He retired as a boss of the Customs several years ago, an agency of government that reeks with corruption. There were some spats over contracts for the communications garget for the 8th All African Games in 2003, in Abuja, and the issue of bunkering crookedness, and illegal rents collected on crude oil lifting, which Obasanjo largely scuttled in the heat of his tenure elongation project in March 2006.
In August 2005, and early 2006, we heard of US security operatives raiding Atiku’s home in Washington, USA, over allegation of involvement with Mr. William Jefferson, a member of the US Congress, in a US $500,000 bribe over a telecommunications deal in Nigeria. Jefferson was alleged to have said that he needed to give the $500,000 to Atiku; to help secure Nigeria’s adoption of Internet technology from the USA based iGate Inc. In mid May 2006, the FBI claimed in a US court to have found marked US $90,000, of US $100,000 bribe money, collected from a business partner for Atiku, concealed in a freezer in the office of Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson who at the time was claiming to have been duped by some Nigerians, had, in fact, collected $6.5 million from one Otumba Oyewole Fasawe, the Nigerian behind the Netlink Digital Television (NDTV) private business that Jefferson was contracted to supply with technology and failed. Jefferson had with great difficulty, and after a lot of pressure, managed to refund only $1.7 million of the $6.5 million he had received, at the time he was screaming foul play against his crooked Nigerian partners he swindled. Mr. Vernon Jackson, Jefferson’s agent on the NDTV scam, was jailed in the USA in September 2006, for seven years over the deal. William Jefferson himself was jailed in 2009 in the USA over the scam.
The Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF), under the supervision of Vice President Atiku, had apparently been used to finance the NDTV business and some Globacom debts. On May 31, 2006, the US government, in reaction to public speculation in Nigeria, denied having cleared Atiku of involvement in the NDTV fraud. Early in June 2006, Atiku was again alleged in a US court, where further hearing was continuing, to have been involved in the bribery scandal. In mid July 2006, the EFCC went to a bank and collected statements on Atiku’s current accounts.
On Thursday 7th September 2006, the Senate President read in the Nigerian Senate, a letter from President Obasanjo accompanying some documentary evidence, alleging conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds, corrupt practices, and money laundering, against the Vice President. The submission, which was for the information of the Upper House, claimed that the President, acting on information received from the USA government, set up an administrative panel to investigate the allegations against Vice President Atiku.
The report of the panel, along with the findings of the EFCC, claimed that the Vice President utilized for private purposes, funds put in a fixed deposit account for the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF), a department of government under his care. In essence, the Vice President was acting as moneylender with government money for personal profit. US$10 million of the US$125 million fund was clearly used as collateral in support of a loan of N1.2 billion granted to Otumba Oyewole Fasawe by the Trans International bank in Lagos.
The financial gain made by the Vice President from Fasawe over the loan was paid into Atiku’s Campaign Organization account with Bank PHB. Umar Pariya, Atiku’s aide, acted as the go between on the transaction. The balance of US$115m of the PDTF money was transferred in April 2003, for reasons unconnected to PDTF activities, to Equatorial Trust Bank belonging to Dr. Mike Adenuga, the Vice president’s friend and Chairman of Globacom. The fund’s transfer, like the US$10 million withdrawn from it earlier, was done without the required recourse to the Federal Executive Council (FEC). Argument by the Vice President that the US$115m was put in Adenuga’s bank eight months after Globacom’s operating license was paid for or that no money was lost, does not alter the fact that the fund was moved without FEC’s awareness and for purposes unrelated to PDTF projects, including possible attempt to cushion Globacom over an urgent business deal or external debt repayment pressures for personal profit.
The Vice president’s defense at the time sounded like: “I am guilty but I shared my illicit gains with the President and my party, the PDP.” The Vice President, now politically dead, alleged that the President’s profits from the messy deals included N3 billion directly; their joint billions of Naira campaign fund; N100 million made to the president’s IBAD construction company; N11 million given to his Bell Comprehensive High School to buy buses; N200 million used to clear some of the president’s debts; N100 million contributed to his campaign fund; ugly arms deal scams; funds given to his African Leadership Forum and to buy cars for women (married or not), he was ensnaring to his bed etc; N500 million made available to the campaign chest of the PDP….
On Tuesday October 3, 2006, Chief Dan Etete, a Petroleum Resources Minister in General Abacha’s regime, opened a can of worms on the Vice President’s ugly oil deals, and how INTELS, (a company in which the VP had substantial interest and shared ownership with two Italians, Messrs Gabriel Volpi, and Angello Perruzi, and a Switzerland based lawyer called Lugano), sold a piece of land on the water front in Port-Harcourt to Shell for US$100m. The VP, using INTELS, and (Pecos Nigeria Limited, a business front of Otunba Oyewole Fasawe), blackmailed and pounced on 50% of Malabo’s oil bloc 245. Then with the connivance, treachery and crookedness of Shell, the Anglo Dutch Oil giant, stole the entire bloc 245 from Malabo at US$210m profit to the Vice president and his business cronies. Using similar tricks, the VP’s INTELS and Associates cornered 20% stake in oil bloc 247 belonging to another party.
The VP’s defense was that Etete should not be taken seriously because he was in exile after “supervising the collapse of Nigeria’s refineries…. and that Etete stole over US $5bn from the public treasury and allocated the oil bloc in question to himself when he was Minister of Petroleum Resources.” That during the scam in question and since, the Petroleum Ministry has been under the firm grip of the President, “all by himself, these last seven and half years. Every Nigerian is literate to the fact that all enquiries on oil and related matters go to the president’s desk… When the big masquerade behind Etete is courageous enough to come out, the Vice president will respond.” What this means in essence is that others not mentioned in Etete’s report profited along with the VP from his oil projects’ looting business.
NAIWU OSAHON Hon. Khu Mkuu (Leader) World Pan-African Movement); Ameer Spiritual (Spiritual Prince) of the African race; MSc. (Salford); Dip.M.S; G.I.P.M; Dip.I.A (Liv.); D. Inst. M; G. Inst. M; G.I.W.M; A.M.N.I.M. Poet, Author of the magnum opus: ‘The end of knowledge’. One of the world’s leading authors of children’s books; Awarded; key to the city of Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Honourary Councilmanship, Memphis City Council; Honourary Citizenship, County of Shelby; Honourary Commissionership, County of Shelby, Tennessee; and a silver shield trophy by Morehouse College, USA, for activities to unite and uplift the African race.
Naiwu Osahon, the Sage: New World Order, renowned author, philosopher of science, mystique, leader world Pan-African Movement.