Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described allegations made against him by Oba Sikiru Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebuland, as resulting from a lack of common sense and a potpourri of wild rumors.
Obasanjo’s response was contained in a letter dated December 30, 2016, and was a direct riposte to a welter of allegations contained in the traditional ruler’s 2010 autobiography, Awujale: The Autobiography Of Alaiyeluwa Oba SK Adetona, Ogbagba 11. In the book, the Awujale pointedly claimed that Obasanjo used his powers as president, among other things, to hound his cousin and Chairman prominent businessman, Mr. Mike Adenuga.
The former president described the Awujale’s claims in his book as products of bizarre rumors, which a traditional ruler of his status should not be seen propagating. “Common sense would suggest that wild rumors should not be perpetrated by an Oba of your caliber,” wrote Obasanjo, who added that he now thinks a lot less of the Awujale than he once did.
Writing on the 2006 experience of Mr. Adenuga with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in his book, the Awujale had accused the former President of harboring a deep-seated hate for the Globacom Chairman, an accusation that drew a fusillade from Obasanjo.
“Kabiyesi, the total sum of what you have put down in those pages of your book is that I dislike Mike (Adenuga). Maybe I need to remind you that if there was any iota of truth in such a position or mindset, Mike would never have been granted the mobile phone telephone license, which made him a billionaire. It was my prerogative as the President so to do. You may also be reminded that the first round of auction, which Mike did not make, the country earned $285million for each license. The country earned only $200million from the license transaction with Mike and in the subsequent transaction with Etisalat, the country earned $400million. It was a deliberate action on my part that a Nigerian should own one of the licenses. Anybody else but Mike could have been that Nigerian,” wrote Obasanjo.
As part of the dislike Obasanjo allegedly harbored for Mr. Adenuga, the Awujale wrote in his book that the former president used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a personal battle axe against some prominent people, including the Globacom Chairman. Not surprisingly, Obasanjo also bristled at the allegation, saying the EFCC, with him as President, did its job as it deemed fit. Obasanjo accused the Awujale of carrying out hate propaganda against his person by the suggestion that he used the EFCC as a whip against certain persons.
“Kabiyesi, your cousin did not tell you that my Chief of Staff, Abdul Mohammed, put his reputation on the line by assuring EFCC that Mike would not go anywhere and they should trust him to give him his passport. I did not even know that Abdul had done that until the Chairman of EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, reported the case of my Chief of Staff seemingly colluding with Mike to run out the country. But I had implicit confidence in my Chief of Staff and I was to resolve the issue. Should your cousin not have mentioned to Abdul who guaranteed the release of his passport, his fears and intention to go on exile?” Obasanjo asked in the letter.
The former President ramped up his attack on the Awujale by exposing the traditional ruler’s decision to send him documents on Mr. Adenuga’s case with the EFCC, saying he paid no attention to those documents because he was not the EFCC and did not put the commission on a leash.
“Mike did not need to send anything to me to satisfy me. He needed to satisfy the EFCC, and so your sending any documents to me was insinuating that I am the one to be satisfied rather than the EFCC.
So, such documents were not paid attention by me. You, as a part beneficiary from Mike, as you have told me in the past, would not be able to see the tree from the forest viz-a-viz, Mike. If the EFCC was investigating anybody, I did not consider it right for me to be the President of Nigeria to be undermining the EFCC by hobnobbing with that person,” wrote Obasanjo.
On the Awujale’s allegation that Obasanjo deliberately arranged a photo-op with Mr. Adenuga, the former President said the traditional had fallen many notches in his estimation.
“Your assertion in the publication was a tissue of lies and untruths. Olopade is one of my best friends, and yes, I would be at his birthday celebration, but I would not have invited Mike, your cousin, to meet me anywhere other than my office or official residence as President of Nigeria. Kabiyesi, do you think I would set the press up for to capture Mike and me in a photograph for the newspapers? That would be puerile for me as President. Of course, I could not say that Mike could not do that,” wrote Obasanjo.
The former president also dismissed the Awujale’s claim that he was sore at the decision of Mr. Adenuga not to make financial contributions to the building of the library at Bells University. According to Obasanjo, Mr. Adenuga was invited by the then Vice-Chancellor of the University, who did not inform him of the invitation to the Globacom Chairman to contribute until the businessman pulled out.
Obasanjo said the Awujale has a reputation for propagating unfounded rumors. “It is not only in the case of Obajana Cement that you were rumour-mongering about me. You have done that repeatedly on many occasions,” he wrote.
The latest of such, said the former president, was last year when he said the Awujale told him that he heard he (Obasanjo) went to businessman, Razak Okoya, to ask to marry his daughter. According to Obasanjo, it was the girl that came to him seeking his intervention in a disagreement with her father.
Obasanjo said he intervened and Okoya and his daughter were reconciled.
“I told you even then that it was unbecoming. Of course, I am used to such rumors, slandering, and insinuations since my days as Unit Commander in the Army, and I have developed a thick skin. If ten percent of the rumors ascribing businesses and properties I know nothing about were true, I would be the richest man on earth. But recently when Aliko (Dangote), yourself and myself were together, Aliko assured you that I never had a single share in any of Aliko’s business interests, but whenever he has called on me to help within and without to promote his business interests, I have always helped,” Obasanjo stated.
He added that it was during that conversation that Dangote revealed that one the directors in his cement company is somebody very close to the Awujale.
Obasanjo further accused the Awujale of wanting him, in and out of office, to act inappropriately to the benefit of Mr. Adenuga.
“It is of interest to me that Mike did not tell you that when he wanted a national honour, he came to me and I did not react until Babangida (former military president) recommended him and said: ‘Of all those I have helped, Mike is one of the most appreciative,” wrote Obasanjo.
He also dismissed the Awujale’s claim that he had frittered all the political goodwill he once enjoyed, asking why, if true, the traditional ruler contacted him when the All Progressives Congress (APC) was formed in 2014. Obasanjo added that the Awujale was even personally present when he received the APC delegation. “I probably have greater goodwill today, internally and externally, than I had in office,” bragged Obasanjo.