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Gani Versus the Newest Librarians

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Author: By Eric Osagie
Posted to the web: 6/19/2005 7:16:59 AM

Chief Gani Fawehinmi is angry! You can see it in his eyes and feel it in his voice. You surely can hear it in the thunder of his tongue. And when the gadfly is in this ‘killer’ mood, those at the receiving end of his action, certainly can’t feel at ease. The heat of his fire power will be suffocating. Everywhere will quake. Gani, oh, this guy simply loves a good fight, like the kind he is presently squaring up to. So, who’s Gani crossed with this time and what’s his grouse? Gani is angry with the newest ‘librarians’ in town. The activist-lawyer believes that these guys suddenly fascinated with librarianship haven’t been as straight as librarians or anyone who desires a career or retirement in librarianship ought to be. Gani strongly suspects there are plenty mago mago and wuruwuru, in the establishment of the library of controversy named after the No. 1 citizen. Even as the wordsmith, our own W.S.[Wole Soyinka] has dismissed the fundraising where all kinds of government contractors and cronies, had ample space to display their loyalty, as “executive extortionism,” Gani says what happened during the launch was nothing short of ‘presidential rascality.’And he’s gone to court to prove that corruption also includes the action of a president who establishes a library in his name while still in power and goes ahead to ‘cajole or intimidate’ friends and business partners of government to donate to the project. In dragging the president to court, Gani is no anti-intellectualism. He would rather those in government do the right thing: fund universities properly, fund public libraries adequately. And if the president desires to own a library, he should do so after leaving office.For those who haven’t been following the story, it will be appropriate to do a recap. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the renowned chicken farmer who presides over the affairs of the nation, thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to retire into a library after serving out his term in Aso Rock in 2007.So, an idea hit him or was sold to him, to set up a presidential library, to be named Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library. A fund raising was put together by a foreigner named Karl Masters, where some hefty billions was raised, and donations made by a motley crowd of agents and contractors, including state governments, many of whom haven’t much to show as democracy dividends for their people.But the twist to the unfolding presidential library drama is the entry of Professor Onaolapo Soleye, a former minister of finance, into the fray. Soleye, a known OBJ ally, has suddenly come out to claim the ownership of the presidential library. There is also the case of the recently approved Bell University, another OBJ project Gani is questioning its morality and legality. The radical SAN says OBJ was wrong to have awarded himself the right of a university as a sitting president.Gani is smoking fire. And I reproduce below excerpts of his argument, first published in the current edition of THE NEWS magazine. I align myself hundred percent with Gani’s view, which you will find hot and steamy, delivered in the inimitable way unique only to the human rights dynamo…“ What do you call that man? Soleye. I knew Soleye very well. Soleye was a Professor in Ibadan before. By his own financial capability, this man cannot raise N5 million from a bank as a loan. He can’t. I don’t know when Soleye became Olusegun Obasanjo. We are not told of any change of name and Soleye is just disgracing his integrity by making that pronouncement… Where was Soleye since 2003, not making a statement that he was the owner of the Bell University? Where was he in 2004? Where was he until June 2005? Now he is claiming that he is the owner. Well, let him come out with all the documents, let him call a press conference to show us how he established the Bell University.“If you look at the Board of Trustees of Obasanjo Library, the chairman is Christopher Kolade. You know Kolade is the UK High Commissioner. I don’t think that with all his track record, after serving the federal government, with his integrity, I don’t think he will be chairing a Janus-faced organization that has two heads-one head for Obasanjo and the other for Soleye. I don’t think it is in his character. And in any event, Obasanjo himself spoke on that day, clearly. Richard Branson came with his mother, father and wife. He would not have come with his family to one internationally inconsequential character and quantity called Soleye. Richard Branson can’t do that. So I think they should advise this man not to make a fool of himself or his life because he will collapse in the witness box when the time comes.“Why did he name it Obasanjo Presidential Library? Why not Soleye Library? Has he even made any contribution to the University of Ibadan Library? Has he ever gone to his home town to establish a local library? Has he ever thought fit to give fund to the National Library that is bereft of funds? Has he ever in his life, made any donation to any library, anywhere in the world? If he was such a famous man regarding his interest in library, that he had to bring in the likes of Richard Branson, then he must have been so much involved in library set up internationally that he will be so recognized by the likes of Mr. Branson.“Do you know the Bell’s College? Who owns the College? Obasanjo is the owner. He granted an interview shortly before the launch that he didn’t want to start the university. That parents and academic community of the Bell advised him. We have the Bell primary and secondary school. Now there is the Bell University. He said it himself. And then he started and he used the opportunity to obtain a licence which is an abuse of power.“All over the world, you wait until you leave office. In America, the system which we are practicing, that is the way it is done. Those in living memory, Nixon after he left office in 1975 as a result of Watergate, set up his library after he left office. You remember Clinton, he was even begging for funds here and there after leaving. It is because Obasanjo knows (and I am saying so most categorically) that if he has to launch that library fund after leaving, he will not see one tenth of those who gave him money. He knows and he has even said so to somebody that if I don’t do it now, once I leave office I won’t see them again...Obasanjo has never said before, that the Bell was not his own. He never said so. He has never denied ownership of the Junior Bell Primary School. Everybody knows and all the parents who go there know that they belong to Olusegun Obasanjo. And what is more, there was one statement made on May 14 which I want you to note. And it was to the effect that the library will be affiliated to the Bell University. Didn’t you hear about that? So if the Bell University does not belong to Obasanjo and the library does not belong to Obasanjo, why should he make that statement?And in any event, look at the caliber of people who came. They are not the people who could come for any other person than Obasanjo, the man in power. And power attracts all sorts of big people, the so-called heavy weights.“I left out something which I want you to note. I am very cross about this matter. Six years ago, there was no Zenon Oil. Six years ago, there was no big man called Femi Otedola, that young chap. Somebody just started as Minister of Petroleum as well as President.Zenon Oil came and this young boy was donating N200 million like a bolt from the blue. So there is no way by which that boy could be donating to Soleye. Who is Soleye to that boy? I am asking you? Who is Soleye to that boy that he will receive N200 million? I didn’t know that Soleye is so popular that Dangote would give him N250 million, that a consortium of banks will give him 622 million, that the oil companies will give him N2.3 billion. I think we need to know Soleye. I think he must be a junior Jesus! He must be either a new man who has just come or he is a whiz-kid!”

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Obasanjo, Nigeria, Africa, Eric Osagie, Gani, Librarians, Gani Fawehinmi, Soleye, nigerian articles, african articles

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