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Obasanjo's multi-million dollar lobbyist exposed

Posted by By Jonathan Elendu on 2005/05/27 | Views: 1236 |

Obasanjo's multi-million dollar lobbyist exposed


Until just a few days before the launching of Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo's Presidential Library, very few Nigerians had heard the name, Carlton Masters, let alone his company, Goodworks International, LLC.

Until just a few days before the launching of Pres. Olusegun Obasanjo's Presidential Library, very few Nigerians had heard the name, Carlton Masters, let alone his company, Goodworks International, LLC. Goodworks is an Atlanta based lobbying firm founded by Obasanjo's long-time friend and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, and Carlton Masters, a naturalized American. Masters served as a former Deputy Minister of Trade and Agent-General to the United States for Ontario, Canada.

The firm, GWI, founded by Andrew Young and Carlton Masters in 1997, lobbies the United States government on behalf of Nigeria. The relationship between this company and Obasanjo's government has made some past and present top government functionaries uneasy. In recent years there have been growing concerns among Nigerians that the various governments from the Babangida era to date have used influential African Americans to sustain their power, to the ultimate detriment of Nigerian masses. A few prominent Nigerians privately express concern at the growing influence Andrew Young, Carlton Masters and their company, Goodworks International, LLC have on the Obasanjo Government. Goodworks International enjoys a multi-million dollar lobbying contract with the Federal Government of Nigeria. There are also rumours that Andrew Young, and his partner, Carlton Masters are secretly involved in other aspects of the economy, especially in the oil and telecommunications sectors.

Disregarding national pride, propriety and common sense, the Obasanjo Presidential Library has engaged Carlton Masters, an American, as one its Co-Chairmen. The Obasanjo Presidential Library was launched on May 14th and was reported to have realized about six billion naira in one day. On the day of the launching of the Presidential Library, this writer had a brief conversation with Masters and requested an interview with him. Initially, Masters responded favourably to an interview, but after a few transatlantic calls with him, he changed his mind and suggested we talk to his lawyer instead.

We since discovered that his interview with Sowore Omoyele, a columnist and special correspondent for ELENDUREPORTS.COM, upset him. His lawyer called Omoyele to threaten him. But harassing Nigerians is not new to Masters. In the past he had threatened Nigerian journalists including former NEWS magazine Abuja Bureau Chief, Alex Kabba. Kabba, who now publishes African Abroad USA, confirmed that Masters and his colleague, Amb. Howard Jeter, called to threaten him shortly after he published a story on Goodworks International, LLC. We called the Atlanta headquarters of Goodworks International. A lady directed us to Jeter's office in Washington. A call to the Washington office did not yield much as Amb. Jeter was said to be out of the office.

So who is Carlton Masters? Masters, 55, is a naturalized American. Originally from Jamaica, Masters had a long career in banking. He was a Vice President of Bank of Montreal before being appointed in 1992 by then Premier of Ontario, Bob Rae to serve as Agent-General and Deputy Minister of Trade to the United States. Masters worked for the Ontario government for fifteen months. The last five months of the fifteen months was spent on leave of absence following allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him by nine women.

One of the women, Catharine Arnston, was a commercial officer at Boston office of the Ontario government. During a government sponsored dinner in Boston, Masters, according to a report by Christie Blatchford, then of the Toronto Sun, rejected a place at the high table, choosing instead to sit at Ms.

Arnston's table. According to Toronto Sun, Masters repeatedly asked Ms. Arnston, "How they would be spending the night together." He was infuriated by Ms. Arnston's attempts to deflect his propositions. In frustration, he made an obscene hand gesture and said, "She's jerking me around."

Masters reportedly told another Ontario government staffer, "I don't do threesomes," after she showed up with another friend with whom she already had plans, for a dinner Masters insisted that they have. She worked at the Los Angeles office of the Ontario government.

The sexual misconduct allegations against Carlton Masters were investigated by a team of lawyers hired by the Ontario government. No charges were filed and Masters resigned after hinting that he was ready to fight the Ontario government if they tried to fire him.

Reporter and columnist, Christie Blatchford, who now works for Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper wrote seven stories on the Masters sexual harassment saga. She interviewed Catharine Arnston. She also interviewed Carlton Masters on April 4, 1993. The tone of her stories changed as she wrote more about the issue. "I became more sympathetic to Masters as I learned more about the allegations," she told ELENDUREPORTS.COM during an interview.

Although she believed Catharine Arnston to be credible and the investigators hired by the Ontario government found her allegations to be true, Blatchford says, "I just think the process was not fair to Masters. He was not given an opportunity to confront his accusers as the names of some of the women were not even revealed to him." Was Masters set up? "I don't think so...I believe he demanded a lot from the people he worked with...and some of the women may have been too sensitive," Blatchford said.

Many Nigerians believe that Carlton Masters' involvement in the Obasanjo Presidential Library is offensive to propriety and suggests corruption at a time the President is supposedly engaged in an anti-corruption war. Some are more disturbed by the obvious conflict of interests in this matter. The Government's chief lobbyist is also asking companies and individuals, who do business with the government, to donate to the President's private library. Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, described the launching of the library as an "executive extortion."

There are a few questions that need answers from Pres. Obasanjo and Carlton Masters: How many Nigerians serve on the boards of Presidential libraries in the United States? Is there a dearth of Nigerians qualified to be on Obasanjo's Presidential library? Other than being a lobbyist for the President, what other unique qualities does Masters bring to the table that Nigerians can not?

There is one obvious similarity in the characters of Pres. Obasanjo and Carlton Masters: They like to bully journalists

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

Actually translates to bravehearted.