Posted by By KENNY ISHAKA, Kaduna on
These are certainly torrid times for one of the wives to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Moji, a retired Major.
•Accused of pocketing N34 million
•Running party like her kitchen
These are certainly torrid times for one of the wives to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Moji, a retired Major.
The presidential candidate of the Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN) in the April 21, 2007 presidential poll is accused of misappropriating the party’s funds to the tune of N34 million by a faction of the party.
In an interview with Sunday Sun in Kaduna, the acting National Secretary of the party, Engineer Musa Idris, alleged that apart from misappropriating the said funds, Moji ran the party like a personal fiefdom just as she was high-handed.
Idris narrated how the wife to the former President branded leaders of her party, including her running mate in the 2007 polls hired assassins and got them arrested and detained by the police in Abuja for simply going to her to ask for a cheque of N8.4 million released to the party by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to Idris, “We had thought that she would practise what she preaches by trying to alleviate the sufferings of the masses. But unfortunately, when she saw money and presided over it, she went haywire.”
Are you dissapointed by the recent turn of events in your party?
Of course, yes. You will realize that at the moment, there is crisis in the party. We have tried to put the crisis behind us by suspending our National Chairman and presidential candidate in the last presidential election, Major Mojisola Obasanjo [rtd]. We had thought that she would practise what she preaches by trying to alleviate the sufferings of the masses. But unfortunately, when she saw money and presided over it, she went haywire. That is the genesis of the crisis. She failed the masses of this country. From the registration of this party in 2002 and in the run up to the 2007 election, monies that have been released to this party amount to N34 million. Do you know that Major Mojisola Obasanjo did not disburse this money to state chapters? She sat on the money and misappropriated it. People were surprised that throughout the campaigns she never released anything. I sponsored my gubernatorial campaigns from my purse. We went to Abuja, did all the screening and the rest. We expected the party to sponsor all these. She never did. There was another money that came. The last cheque from INEC; N8.4 million. We went to her to release the money. What she did was to call in the police and branded those who went to make the demand hired assassins. She told the Police that the people had come to snatch N8.4 million from her. The FCT Commissioner of Police sent in his men to arrest the party members who went there, including her running mate in the presidential election. This happened before the elections. Officers of the party and her presidential running mate were locked up for two days. We had to mobilize to get them bailed. This is the genesis of the crisis. Immediately after the elections, we took stock of what transpired before, during and after the elections and found out that the continued stay of Major Mojisola Obasanjo in the party would be inimical to the progress of the party. So, we resolved to suspend her from the party. As I speak with you now, an ad hoc committee, chaired by me investigated her. We went to Lagos; investigated the party’s account as well. The account has been frozen and we have reported the case to the EFCC, ICPC and INEC. Right now, she is being investigated. She ceases to be the National Chairman of the party.
How was it possible for her to take over the party the way she did?
This will interest Nigerians. She was the President-General of the Mass Com Incorporated. That was the NGO. So, it was easy for her to pay in monies given to the party by INEC. The NGO was in operation before the party. What she did was that because the names are similar, any time she got a cheque, she paid it into the Mass Com account without us knowing. She was the sole signatory of that account.
Don’t you have a treasurer or financial secretary?
She sidelined them. In fact, the former secretary of the party was one Barrister Alabi. This secretary and one other person were responsible for the formation of the party. He has been there with her at the Mass Com Incorporated. He is even a member of the Board of Trustees of that party. So, that is why he pulled out and informed us when Moji started signing cheques without us knowing. That is why we decided to suspend her. Nigerians would also like to know that since the registration of this party by INEC, Moji Obasanjo has never called for any meeting. She has never called for NEC meeting as the chairman of the party. We have never had any Annual General Meeting, and Central Working Committee meeting. We have never met as a body under her leadership. Never! INEC is even surprised. The only meeting we held, nationally, was the Central Working Committee where we suspended her and created state structures.
How come you are just raising these issues; why did members not speak out when all these were happening?
She speaks from both sides of the mouth. We call her Mummy. We thought that she was actually mummy in the real sense of it. Each time we talked to her about our campaign expenses, jingles allowances and others, she would say she would send money when there is money. When nothing was forthcoming we decided we shouldn’t do anything funny because of the elections. We deferred action until after the elections, to enable us participate. We had thought that whatever would come up at the end of the day, we would definitely get all our expenses back because we have been documenting all the monies spent. Of course, when the issue of police came, we took a different step by suspending her. We are going to re-position the party soon. We are going to have our first Annual General Meeting, which would hold soon to elect new national officers. I am the National Secretary in acting capacity. The first National Secretary is now the Chairman.
Moji is insisting nobody can suspend her from the party because …?
(Cuts in) She can’t say so because she is not an island. This is a party and not an NGO. Nigerians should know that Moji does not own Masses Movement of Nigeria. INEC could not have registered the party if we had it that Major Mojisola Obasanjo owns the party. The party is property of Nigerians and Nigerians are in it. So, Nigerians have taken a decision to pull her out. She has been on her own ever since she was suspended. She has no followers. She stays in her Valley Estate by herself. But we who are the leaders of the party are moving across the country.
How then do you recover the money?
By the time we finish our Annual General Meeting and officers emerge, we would write to INEC. Customarily, INEC would be at the AGM to see how the elections would hold. We hope to write to INEC formally about the emergence of new officers and the financial situation on ground. We cannot allow a national party to go down because of Moji.
You said earlier that you have reported the financial crisis in the party to INEC. Have you also reported to other agencies to enable you recover your money?
First of all, the retired Commissioner of Police in the FCT, Lawrence Alobi, was the man who investigated the case when Moji asked that our people be locked up. In fact, when we stated our position, they quickly released the cheque to our party. This woman called Moji held that the people who went to demand for the money were impostors. But when we went to present ourselves, they discovered that among those Moji called impostors was her vice-presidential candidate in the last election. The other members were chairmen of Kwara, Nasarawa, Kano and Akwa-Ibom states. So, she lied to the police that they snatched the cheque from her. When the police discovered that Moji lied, they now called her and gave her the cheque to bring to us. Again, when she got the cheque, she just paid it into her account and refused to abide by the agreement we had with the police. That was why we went to get the account frozen. As I speak to you now, that account has been frozen pending when we would resolve the crisis.
So much for your political party. What do you see as the general political situation in the country?
First of all, the PDP-led government headed by Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is trying to see how it can get legitimacy and probably refocus Nigeria. We, the Masses Movement of Nigeria are not in court. But I know that AC, Accord Party, ANPP and others are in court challenging the legitimacy of the Yar’Adua government. That is a problem on the hand. That is what is probably making the government to drag its feet. It is possible that once the court processes are over, we would begin to see the leadership in action.
By implication, the court cases are a distraction?
I wouldn’t call them distractions because there are genuine grounds for the cases. If I had gone to court, I wouldn’t call that distraction. Our position was that the elections were not credible. But we didn’t go to court. We do not have the resources to go to court. I told you the problems we have in our party. As I speak to you now, I do not believe there was a credible election. Ditto, other political parties. It is only PDP that believes there was a credible election. Let me give you this example. If PDP believes that there was a credible election and they believe Nigerians were behind them, there was no way they would have been dilly- dallying to the point that appointing ministers would take two to three months. They would have just gone ahead to call a spade a spade and appoint their ministers. But they were trying to carry everybody along. They call it Government of National Unity. They tried to buy time and see how they can bring other people on board. The ANPP has come on board. Ask them what was the bargaining power. What were they able to win to their side before they joined the government? Just two ministers, that is peanut, for ANPP to brake its rank from the Buhari group to join the government of PDP. It is unfortunate for just two ministers. I do not look at that as a participatory government. They just, kind of sandwiched them.
Do you think the GNU is necessary?
It is absolutely unnecessary. If the elections were credible, you don’t need it. It is only a way of saying that ‘Well, since there are crisis here and there, let’s get them to participate so that we can get the problem out of court.’ Because you cannot have the leadership of the ANPP participating in government and you still see them in court. It is just throwing the carrot before the ANPP so that they can pull out of court. They have succeeded. They have gotten them into government and they have been asked to pull out of court. It is only Buhari that is in court.
There is the clamour by Nigerians that Obasanjo should be probed. Is it necessary?
I think you have touched on an area that I am always glad to answer. EFCC, for God’s sake, what have you been doing? I want to say that Obasanjo should have been the first person to be picked up, for so many reasons. One, he was Minister of Petroleum Resources for eight years. The refineries have not been working. The oil sector has been in comatose state for eight years. We have been buying and importing petroleum products like people without refineries. In one of his interviews, the President, that is Olusegun Obasanjo, said that he awarded contracts to revamp the refineries; that he spent $700 million. If the former President says he spent $700 million for that purpose and yet they have failed to work, then what is he talking about? What this simply means is that there is failure of leadership. Obasanjo is simply telling Nigerians that he awarded the contracts, somebody benefited from the contract. EFCC should arrest former President Olusegun Obasanjo and make him explain to Nigerians what happened to the $700 million contract. Secondly, they awarded contracts for the construction of federal highways. They spent about N300 billion. They told us that when Obasanjo’s government left, we started hearing again that they spent N806 billion to rehabilitate the federal highways. Yet the roads are in very bad shape. What has happened to the monies spent? That’s an issue EFCC has to look at. The other one is on NEPA. You know as well as I do that in spite of the huge amount injected, NEPA or PHCN has failed to deliver. In this office right now, there is no light. And the government claimed it spent over N500 billion in the power sector. What has happened to that money? These are pointers to the fact that former President Obasanjo must be arrested and investigated.
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This is a great piece of history, which is dear to our hearts as people and very much appreciated.
Many thanks to the people who worked hard in the past and those who are still making efforts to keep the institution.
The labour is obviouly worth it. We are proud of you all.
A lot still to be done, with the motivation of the champions of this course, others will follow as well to maintain the institution
May God continue to keep the edifice for development of future generations to the glory of God and the benefits of our fatherland.