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I dare Obasanjo to declare his assets publicly– Falae

Posted by By UNDE RAHEEM, Akure on 2007/08/20 | Views: 846 |

I dare Obasanjo to declare his assets publicly– Falae

With the triumph of public opinion in Vice President Goodluck Jonathan’s case, a renewed call has been made on former president Olusegun Obasanjo to publicly declare his assets to prove that he was not only clean, while in government, but also a forthright anti-corruption crusader.

With the triumph of public opinion in Vice President Goodluck Jonathan’s case, a renewed call has been made on former president Olusegun Obasanjo to publicly declare his assets to prove that he was not only clean, while in government, but also a forthright anti-corruption crusader.

Such a declaration would also dispel people’s perception that he is a cocky, intransigent leader, who has no respect for the nation. Former secretary to the Federal Military Government, Chief Olu Falae, threw the fresh challenge, while fielding questions on national issues from Daily Sun in Ondo State recently.

Chief Falae, who ran against Obasanjo in the 1999 presidential election on the joint ticket of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the defunct All Peoples Party (APP), said he had always been cynical of the president’s sincerity in the war he declared against graft, given the half-hearted and selective manner he prosecuted the campaign.

There had been persistent calls on the former leader, who championed the anti-corruption war with the establishment of the dreaded Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to publicly declare his assets.

The calls came on the heels of perceived abuse of office and massive wealth acquisition by the former president in the aftermath of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) scandal.
But Obasanjo had consistently snubbed the calls, fuelling speculations that he may be worth about N180 billion, as alleged by PDP chieftain, Dr Godwin Dabo Adzuana.
Nigerians are asking how the Ota farmer, said to be worth only about N20,000 before he assumed power in 1999, has come to be so rich.

Falae, in the interview, observed that the former president did not go the whole hog with the anti-graft war because he did not want to undermine himself and the characters who surrounded him.
Daring Obasanjo to declare his assets publicly, the politician who also once served as a finance minister remarked: “If you are honest, you should be able to explain how you have what you have within 10 minutes without stammering.”

He described as a provocation of Nigerians, Obasanjo’s inordinate scheming to continue to wield power through his chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Board of Trustees, saying the former leader should have just retired to his farm in regret of the numerous problems he created for Nigerians during his eight-year tenure.

Falae, who tasked the National Assembly to consider the parliamentary system of government as an alternate to the presidential system in its proposed review of the Constitution billed for next year, spoke on the merits of the political system and other issues: Excerpts:
Sir, the present National Assembly wants to revisit constitutional reforms.

What should be the South-West agenda?
Two years ago, Obasanjo convened a kangaroo conference in Abuja which he wanted to use to extend his tenure. All the same, in the South-West we arrived at a consensus called the Yoruba agenda. Recently, a friend of mine read it, who is an Igbo man. He said this was the Nigerian agenda written by Yoruba people. What is this agenda? We have infinite capacity for deceiving ourselves in Nigeria. A lot is fundamentally wrong. Rather than address the issues, we say let’s move the nation forward. How do we move the nation forward? If we move forward in iniquity, you will crash. The principles must be right before we move forward. We have been shouting: ‘Let’s move the nation forward’, since 1965. This has continued to annoy and irritate me. It is madness, it is stupid. How can we move forward when there is so much injustice, unfairness and many contradictions? So, the conference should be an occasion for redefining the basis of Nigeria Federation. My experience is that most Nigerians want to remain Nigerians. But there are some people who use the bogey of the break-up of the country to scare people away from the concept of sovereign national conference. These are dishonest people. If Nigerians want to break up their country, nobody can stop them. Many people don’t want the country to break up. Everybody that I know wants to be treated as a decent, respected Nigerian. Nobody wants to be treated as second or third class citizen. That is what it is all about. It is not about breaking up the country.
The South-West is the most viable nation state in Nigeria. It has the longest coastal line, homogenizing and uniting institutions like traditional obaship, people with common heritage at Ife. These are things that make the South-West a cohesive and viable nation within a nation. That frightens many Nigerians, the fear is that the West, if united, might decide to break up the country. There is no basis for that at all. The West has invested as any other zone, in the Nigerian project. It will be idiotic to throw away something in which you have invested so much. The first point in the agenda is that Nigeria has tried a parliamentary system and the presidential system. We are now in a position to determine the more suitable one for Nigeria. Most states are convinced today that the parliamentary system is better. Better in what sense? First, this is cheaper to me. The presidential system has the qualities of making senators and members of the House of Representatives almost similar in their function with the executive. Under Obasanjo’s administration, senators have votes given to them in the budget for developing their so-called constituencies. They became a replica of the executive. Each one of them had all sorts of aides, P.A. and what not. Paraphernalia which we used to have in America, legislative aides, how many laws do we pass in four years in Nigeria that warrant having so many assistants? We just copy blindly, a poor suffering nation where people cannot be sure of two meals a day, behaving like America! It is clear nonsense. The parliamentary system is cheaper. If you want to be a governor or president today, I don’t know how many billions Obasanjo spent. But when I ran for president in 1999, I spent close to N500 million. That is stupid, in a nation where people have nothing to do and eat. So, the parliamentary system does not impose such a burden on anybody. All you need to do is to be the leader of your party and if your party has the majority in the legislature, automatically you become the head of government. You are elected leader of your party, and if your party has majority in the House, automatically you become the prime minister or president, or whatever nomenclature they want to use. You don’t have to spend up to N10 billion to run for election in Nigeria. So, it is a far cheaper system.

What is your view about the government of national unity?
Again, it shows bankruptcy of ideas in the ruling party. Except during the time of national emergency or war, what is the meaning of government of national unity, particularly in the presidential system of government? If it were in a parliamentary system of government, you had an election and no single party had overall simple majority, yes you form an alliance. You can even say let all parties come together and form a government of national unity. But in this particular case, for the simple reason that if the party does not have a working majority, it can be overthrown on a simple vote of no confidence. If it is just by one vote, the government must resign to avoid instability. But in a presidential system, where the life of the government does not depend on votes on the floor of the House, except impeachment votes, what is the relevance of government of national unity? This one, in my view, is an attempt to legitimize the illegitimate government of Yar’dua. More so, that there was no election, it was brigandage, murder, killing of people, open fraud. We all saw it, the international community wrote that report and thank God, Yar’Adua said his election was not free and fair. So, indirectly, he is saying his government is not legitimate. It is like an armed robber who stole something and then invited people around him to share in the loot. How does that address the issue that the guy robbed? The government of national unity, in my view, is unsuitable, unnecessary in this situation and totally ineffective in addressing the problem at hand.

EFCC’s alleged selectivity in trials of former governors
I want to be kind to (EFCC) by saying once upon a time, Ribadu said, at least 33 serving governors were corrupt then, but he could not arrest them because they had immunity. Most of them are out of office now; I want to believe that he can now. I still want to believe that he is going to arrest them but he cannot arraign all of them at the same time. He has to start with some and proceed with the others. I hope so and if he doesn’t, then he has a query to answer.

Obasanjo and PDP BOT chairmanship
I am not a member of the PDP. But I just want to say that I think Obasanjo is trying to be very unwise. After ruling Nigeria for a period of 12 years, he should thank God and go home quietly and become invisible and live his private life. It is a provocation for him to try to rule us through the back door. After all, he caused all the problems the country is facing at present. He should be held responsible for all the crimes in the country. He failed in the third term bid, he now wants to implement the third term agenda through becoming the chairman of the party. As I said, it is very unwise for him to even attempt to be the BOT chairman of PDP. We are fed up with him. He should please just go and hide his face in shame at his Ota farm.

Solution to the problem in the Niger Delta region?
It is not a too difficult problem. What are the things the people in the region are saying? They want to be a master of their own resources. God in his infinite mercy and wisdom has blessed them with oil and gas. The best thing to do is to let the people take advantage of it and live a good life. What is happening today is that it is the Federal Government, political leaders and officials that are the ones determining those who explore their gas and oil, no consultation with the owners. To me, I don’t know if it is going to be acceptable to you to wake up one morning and find strangers at your backyard digging the soil and saying they are looking for oil without your involvement at all.
They say some Federal agencies give them licences to explore the oil. It is injustice. The issue is not addressed by giving them higher revenue proportion. I told some of the South-South people that you are missing the point. Yes, more revenue will enable you to do more projects for your people. But it is a political issue.
You are being sidelined in the exploration of your resources. So, the people there must be part of the authorization process. Any company that wants to look for oil in their territory must come to them and develop it jointly. It should be on 50-50 sharing formula between the owners of the oil and others.
There is gold in Sokoto, there is uranium in Bauchi and Gombe. I just want to tell the truth. By the time these resources have been tapped, these people should also get 50 per cent. I am surprised that government has not addressed the main issue. They don’t even have water to drink because of the huge pollution.
Their water is polluted, animals greatly affected. You need to take a trip to the areas and see for yourself what the people are experiencing. Government should understand what these people need and come to their aid. Address the fundamental issue. The people want to be part of the process that gives their resources to other people. They want to have a voice and a big one at that.

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.