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The Ali-Must-Chop scam

Posted by By JACOB EDI, Abuja on 2005/08/28 | Views: 1448 |

The Ali-Must-Chop scam

Six months in the saddle as the national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Senator Dr. Ahmadu Ali, 69, is set to make history. What with the scandal that blew open last week following his inclusion of his wife, Mary, and son, Ogala, in the list of board appointees made public two weeks ago.

Six months in the saddle as the national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Senator Dr. Ahmadu Ali, 69, is set to make history. What with the scandal that blew open last week following his inclusion of his wife, Mary, and son, Ogala, in the list of board appointees made public two weeks ago.

Whereas the PDP national chairman nominated his spouse as the chairman of the plum Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), his son is to serve member of the board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

Funny enough, the discovery was made after the president had approved it. While endorsing the list, the president apparently never in his wildest imagination imagined that such brazen act of nepotism is still possible at a time he is leading a relentless way on graft and all manifestations of "political corruption".
In what is interpreted by observers as a sign of displeasure, the president last week summarily suspended the inauguration of the NPA board.

Expectedly, the scandal had touched off public indignation against the PDP chairman who succeeded Audu Ogbeh on account of alleged "gross misconduct".

Indeed, when the story first started, his spin doctors tried to make a light weather of it. But Obasanjo, Sunday Sun learnt, felt personally disappointed. At the ministers retreat which ended in Abuja penultimate Saturday, sources told Sunday Sun that Ali tried desperately to seek presidentís "good eyes" by cracking jokes. To these, the president played the "cunny man dies, cunny man buries him" game, by responding genially to the jokes as well.

Ali became popular during the reign of then Head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo. It happened that he was the federal commissioner for education while the nation was gripped by national protest by students. The theme of the students demonstration became "Ali Must Go". Thus, emerged his sobriquet, "Ali mungo! (corruption of must go). Not even his political, military and professional achievements over the years could drown that.

Over the years and mostly at political functions, "Ali-Must-Go!" stuck. Political associates and supporters were quick to shout "Ali-must-go!" to announce his arrival at functions. Indeed, on the day he took over as PDPís national chairman, in March, even President Obasanjo could not help but repeat the story of the Ali-must-go saga.
And to demonstrate that he [OBJ] has fully civilianized he amended "Ali-must-go!" to become "Ali-must-stay!".
But developments last week at the PDPís Wadata House secretariat may as well give the Kogi-born Medical Doctor and retired army officer another sobriquet.

Now, Ali-must chop!
In a rare show of favoritism the PDP chairman single-handed nominated his wife, Dr. Marian Ali and son, Ogala Adah Ali, to be appointed members of federal boards. As it turned out the wife was made chairman of the board of the juicy Nigeria Ports Authority [NPA] just as the son got the membership of the Nigeria Railway Cooperation [NRC] board.
How did it happened? PDP sources told Sunday Sun that trouble began for
Ali when some state delegation who were at the party secretariat to reportedly incensed when they discovered that the names sent to the party for onward submission to the presidency for board appointment were jettisoned for other persons.
It was gathered that it was some of these persons who felt short-changed that investigated the fresh names submitted to the president for board appointment.
Another source of leakage, it was leant, were some national officers who felt the national chairman and the deputy national chairman, South, Chief Bode George, the oldest members of the Interim National Working Committee [INWC], had betrayed them by submitting names to the president without their input.
Not surprising, only George seemed the highest-ranking officer who has risen stoutly in Aliís defence since the scandal broke out. More coincidence, George also sat on the same board that Ali wanted his wife to take over. Meanwhile, Georgeís tenure is still enmeshed in controversy following reports that over N25 billion was "looted" which he was NPA board chairman.
The aggrieved party men were said to have leaked information to the president to the effect that the national chairman nominated his wife and son while Bode George also nominated both his wife and personal aides for appointment into the board of federal government parastatals.
It was gathered that the president felt embarrassed and deceived when he got the information especially that the names had been made public. It was at this point that the president was said to have instructed that the inauguration of the NPA board be suspended.

Aliís other sins
The marriage of convenience that led to the emergence of Dr. Amadu Ali as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] may have collapsed.
Apart from disagreements over nomination for appointments between the national officers, it was learnt that the National Working Committee [NWC] are also at daggers drawn with the national chairman over award of contracts.
Indeed even President Olusegun Obasanjo is said to be crossed with his political son Amadu Ali and the deputy national chairman, South, (Bode George) for misleading him into nominating Aliís wife and son as well as Bodeís wife as board members.
It was gathered that some members of the NWC confronted the national chairman and the deputy national chairman, south with allegations of

PDP sources hinted Sunday Sun that the national chairman awarded the contract for the sinking of a bore-hole within the party secretariat to Setratec, a company where the national chairmanís wife is said
to have controlling shares, at the cost of N9million.
Similarly it was gathered that even the contract for the computerization of the secretariat is being handled by the national chairmanís wife, whom the

deputy senate president Ibrahim Mantu, last week referred to as ĎFirst Ladyí of the PDP.
Also, some younger party elements allege that Ali has used more than 65 percent of the partyís resources to cater for his office and family. The result is that the party is now "broke", such that there were unconfirmed reports that vendors have cut newspapers supply to the party national secretariat in Abuja over backlog of unpaid bills.

There is another allegation that Ali bought a Lexus jeep and a bullet-proof car at N45 million.
It was also learnt that Ali also had trouble with his NWC members over the contract for the printing of the new party membership card. According to PDP sources, the job for the production of 10million cards was given at an outrageous N43million. Ali was however said to have explained that the contract was awarded during the Ogbeh-led administration.
But the partyís statement at the end of last weekís NWC meeting only announced that the party had taken delivery of 10 million membership cards. While awaiting the delivery of the registers. Party spokesman, John Odey, in the statement said 6,500 registers were received and 6,000 were yet to be received.

When Sunday Sun reached out to the deputy national chairman, South, Chief Bode George for comments, he argued that there was nothing wrong with the national chairmanís action:
"If they are politicians there is nothing wrong with making any body a board member. Board appointment is not job for the boys. It is given in recognition of the contribution of party members."
Why was the NPA board appointment cancelled then?
Chief Bode George further explained that the cancellation had nothing to do with whether the chairmanís wife or son was among those appointed.

Rather he heaped the blame on civil servants whom he said would not do their jobs properly before making such information public. He further disclosed that the boards of more federal government parastatals will

still go.
According to him some of the parastatals that currently exist may be split into more than two because of the on-going privatization.
"But come to think of it what are we talking about? The national chairman is not a saint. What he has done is not new. Look at Mrs. Josephine Anenih," Chief Bode George said while insisting that his wife, Roli, who

was made a board member, spent a lot of her own resources to work for the party.
Again Mr. Theophilus Abbah, Special Assistant to the PDP national chairman on Media Affairs observed that such action of his boss was not unprecedented.
"The question people should be asking is whether the national chairmanís wife is qualifies to do that job or not. Or whether she is a Nigerian or not. Or if there is any law that stops her from being a board chairman having served before now on the board of the Lower-Benue River Basin."

"In 1999 the national chairman was the campaign coordinator for the President in the North Central Zone. The wife was on the campaign train, spending her money, expending her energy and giving all the necessary support to the campaign. In fact she became a rallying point of some women in the party. Those who were not as visible as she is got appointments," Abbah informed.

On the contracts allegedly given to the PDP chairmanís wife, Mr. Abbah denied it happened. Although he refused to give the name of those behind the contract to Sunday Sun, he simply said: "The company handling

this job is registered. Let people not be led blindly. Even if any body is telling lies on this matter the CAC will certainly not tell lies. They have all the records. People should go there and investigate. The result will tell who is misleading who."
Will Ali go?

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