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Even the unborn child in Nigeria today wants Obasanjo probed –Jerry Useni

Posted by By MARIAM ALESHINLOYE AGBOOLA, Jos on 2008/04/05 | Views: 749 |

Even the unborn child in Nigeria today wants Obasanjo probed –Jerry Useni


One-time minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lt. General Jeremiah Useni (retd), has lauded the non-interference of President Umaru Yar’Adua in the on-going House of Representatives probe of power projects and sundry contracts in the oil and steel sectors during the Obasanjo regime, describing it as the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria.

One-time minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lt. General Jeremiah Useni (retd), has lauded the non-interference of President Umaru Yar’Adua in the on-going House of Representatives probe of power projects and sundry contracts in the oil and steel sectors during the Obasanjo regime, describing it as the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria.

Useni said the on-going investigation has revealed the hypocrisy and shenanigans of the former administration whose profligacy and corruption, he said, was more monumental than the late dictator, Sani Abacha’s.

He commended the Presidency for giving the House a free hand to get to the roots of the matter, noting that had the investigation taken place under Olusegun Obasanjo, the lawmakers would either have been intimidated or arm-twisted into backing off from the inquiry.

He supported the call that Obasanjo be probed and prosecuted in light of the sordid revelations of his subversion of the due process in the award of contracts emanating from the House’s inquiry.
His words: “But he should be probed. Even a child in the mother’s womb today is asking that Obasanjo be probed.”

He faulted the view that such probe could distract the Yar’Adua administration, saying there was no big deal about investigating the ex-president.
Useni talked on this, the aftermath of election petitions tribunal verdicts and other issues in an interview with Daily Sun
Excerpts:

The presidential elections tribunal
Well, all along, I believe in the judiciary; so I would not say anything to look as if one is selfish. What we said as a party was that the way he got there did not follow proper process, and we are not satisfied with it. Hence we refused to accept that he won the election. Of course, the judiciary is there and the matter went to court and now the court has said he won. But the next step is to go to the Supreme Court because there are still divided views over the handling of the case compared with other judgments where the judges went into detail, to the extent of mentioning the number of local governments won or lost in the case of governors and, in the case of the Senate President, where they nullified elections in two local governments and ordered fresh elections there. In the case of Osunbor and Oshiomhole, the tribunal counted the valid and unacceptable votes and came out to say that with all the deductions, so and so person won.
But in the case of the President, we did not have all the details because we know that Yar'Adua was declared winner, while counting was still going on in the states. Even in the case of Obasanjo, they specifically mentioned states like Ogun where he did not win. But at the end, the court said despite that, Obasanjo still won. We expect to hear something like that in Yar’Adua’s judgment.
That makes some of us worry and now that Atiku and Buhari have gone back to court, we just have to wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict.

The decision and national interest
I do not believe that it went that way for the sake of national interest. What is national interest? Is it because Nigerians did not take to the streets like the Kenyans did? That we decided to be civilized in our approach? But that does not mean we were not hurt. It does not mean we could not have mobilised our people to go to the streets and kill. What are you talking about national interest? At least, the judiciary did not say so, nobody can speak for the judiciary.
They have their reasons for giving the judgment the way they did, but they cannot come out and say it’s for the national interest. We would have questioned them that what do they mean by national interest.
The probe of the power sector, the best thing to happen in Nigeria
The non-interference by the Presidency in the probe going on in the House of Representatives is the best thing that has ever happened to the country.

If it were under Obasanjo, to cover up for his inefficiency and their stealing tendencies, they would have interfered. But this time around, the President is saying, no, let the process take its course. So, I commend Yar’Adua for that and I have always said that as a person, I have nothing against him, but I question the process that took him there. So, I think it is good that he did not interfere. Having said that, let me say that what is happening now is an eye-opener. It is a vindication of what some of us have been saying all along, that Obasanjo was deceiving the country.

That he was using the so-called corruption war to cover up what he was doing underground. Even the international newspapers used to say that corruption was right at the Presidency, but we did not believe it. For a small thing, he would sack a minister, just to show that he was working.
During our time, in the Abacha years, we hardly got more than 10 dollars for a barrel of crude oil. Immediately Obasanjo came, the thing jumped to 25 dollars per barrel.

Today, we are talking about 100 dollars for a barrel; yet what do they have to show for it except expenditure upon expenditure, like we heard of this case of a managing director of a company who collected the contract money but never knew the site. What do you do to such a person? Even if we shot and killed him, it is not enough. Maybe if we use razor blade to cut him little by little, so that he can die slowly, he would feel the pains. It is sad, but I am happy that people are beginning to know the truth; even though some principal characters like the former minister, Olusegun Agagu, are trying to deny it.

But what do you expect from people like him? He was formerly minister of Power and then later, brought in to become governor. It is left for us to read between the lines. It is typical for Nigerians to deny allegations even if they were caught doing something bad, they will still deny. The truths are coming out.

I hope this administration will be courageous enough to deal with those concerned so that others will learn. It is good that the people are talking. It would not have been possible during Obasanjo era for us to know that the permanent secretary of a ministry, who is supposed be the chief accounting officer in the ministry, is not even aware of some of these deals. It was just between Obasanjo, the ministers and those companies.

Even like those mentioned in some of the tribunals, telling us how they doctored results; etc. It is not enough to cancel the elections but the people found to have perpetrated that act should be arrested and dealt with.
In the case of the elections, where it is proved that some people tampered with the process of the election, they should be jailed.

The present administration should have the courage to bring such people to book since they have the courage to investigate. As I said, I am happy the President is not interfering with the probe. But judging from the fact that they have the courage to go deep into it, one expects that they would have the same courage to go the whole hog to recover what has been stolen and imprison those that should be imprisoned. Because so much has been said about Abacha.

But now, Abacha’s case has become a child’s play. Even, it is doubtful where they put the money they said they recovered from Abacha. This is because no bill went to the National Assembly to approve its expenditure. The whole thing was a way of preventing us from knowing the truth.

But would that not amount to probing the Obasanjo administration?
But he should be probed. Even a child in the mother’s womb today is asking that Obasanjo be probed. What is the big deal about him? It is not true to say probing him will divert the attention of the administration. Is it the President that would be presiding at the probe, or his ministers would be members? The President and the ministers will go on with the administration, while the probe panel would be doing their thing. There is no diversion there. Or are you saying that we should leave him to go like that?
The committee can go on with the probe and after that, the report can be sent to the EFCC and in areas that require further investigation, it can be sent to the police and the Ministry of Justice for prosecution. The minister cannot say that is too much for him because that is his job in the first place. It would not divert any attention; rather, it would raise the morale of the public.

Hope for the power sector?
Everybody hopes for the best. It would not be easy for me to say the future is bleak, but as at now, we are in trouble. There will still be some hope if some recoveries were made and government pumps more money into the sector. But if the government is not making more investments and the stolen money is not recovered and put back into it, then I will say the future is bleak.

Is it right for Nigeria to have refineries abroad?
I have no such information of the government trying to have refineries abroad, but when we were in government, there were plans to buy refineries that were already in existence. We saw it as a better alternative than somebody selling refined product to us at exorbitant prices. This, we wanted to do in addition with encouraging the setting up of refineries in the country. The idea of setting up private refineries was first mooted during the Abacha regime.

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