“Out of the three Presidents that had opportunity to scrutinize this settlement, Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan are alive. Have they disowned this settlement?Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, immediate past Attorney General of the Federation under Jonathan.
If ever there is any evidence required to prove the observation that men, especially African leaders, don’t learn from the past, the present situation in which Buhari is also the Minister of Petroleum provides it. Before him, President Obasanjo was the Minister as well as the Head of State. It was the same Obasanjo who signed the Decree 33 on April 21, 1977 for the establishment of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. The decree stipulated that the affairs of the Corporation shall be conducted by a Board of Directors consisting of a Chairman, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Economic Development, the Managing Director of the Corporation, three persons appointed by the Federal Executive Council, FEC. The Chairman shall be a Federal Commissioner (Minister now) in the Government. Since the Minister was supposed to report jointly to the military Head of State, HoS, and the FEC, it was not envisaged that the HoS, would be the Minister because that would mean somebody reporting to himself on a matter concerning all Nigerians. Separation of powers was intended and was maintained by all Heads of State, military and civilian until Obasanjo greedily refused to appoint a Minister of Petroleum from 1999 to late 2006. He kept the Ministry for himself by convincing himself and other gullible Nigerians that he only could be trusted with Nigeria’s oil wealth.
History has already recorded three facts proving conclusively that under Obasanjo from 1999, the public treasury developed a hole in the bottom for Nigeria’s oil revenue to run into private drains. Consider the evidence.
A lead story in the NATION on July 31, 2008 informed Nigerians that an oil block developed with Nigerian funds for $2 billion was sold for a mere $5 million on the instructions of Obasanjo according to the Department of Petroleum Resources. Obasanjo neither refuted the story nor sued NATION for defamation. Silence means consent.
Former Senator Daisy Danjuma was part of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee, set up to investigate charges of corrupt practices in the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Trust Fund, PTDF, in the dying days of Obasanjo’s civilian government. After weeks of testimony, she concluded as follows: “I do not see any need for other investigations because this is enough; it speaks for itself that funds were misplaced against the Constitution and against the people of Nigeria.” Who misplaced the funds? Obasanjo and his friends.
The third piece of evidence is the subject of this article – the Malabu Oil deal. Malabu oil deal serves proxy for how Nigerian leaders, non-indigenes of oil producing states, raped the Niger Delta mercilessly; and Obasanjo was in the thick of it. Granted, it all started with Abacha, who is still worshipped in Bayelsa State for creating an exclusively Ijaw State. He and his Petroleum Minister, Chief Don Etete (also a hero in Bayelsa), colluded to award the highly lucrative oil block, OPL 245, to a company in which Abacha’s son, Etete and a diplomat had interests. In 2002, the award was revoked by Obasanjo and the block given to Shell. Malabu Oil and Gas promptly sued the Federal Government. In 2006, with Obasanjo still President and Minister of Petroleum, the oil block was again taken from Shell and given back to Malabu. Shell, which paid $1.3 billion to the Federal Government, which in turn handed $1.1 billion to Malabu, Shell then went to court. In March 2017, an Abuja Federal Court returned the oil block to Shell. The end is not in sight on litigation on the oil block because Malabu will probably appeal.
Meanwhile, as usual in such matters in Nigeria, a lot of bribery and corruption was going on. Representatives of Shell and AGIP have been prosecuted and punished abroad for the bribes paid in Nigeria. Nobody has been penalized in Nigeria for it because the Nigerian authorities have so far refused to bring Obasanjo into court to make statements under oath and to explain his roles as Minister and President in 2002-2006 when all the drama was going on.
Obasanjo, predictably, flared up when Adoke listed his name among the three Presidents – Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, and Jonathan – who sold Nigeria down the river. He told Adoke to stop mentioning his (Obasanjo’s) name and he asked for proof of his participation in the crooked deals surrounding Malabu. Baba Iyabo should stop crying on the shoulders of the Press. The man, who once had a sign in front of his Sango Ota chicken farm reading “DOGS AND JOURNALISTS KEEP OUT”, should quit using the “dogs” to fight his lost battle. He should go and do his talking in court – meaning that he should be asked to come and testify. He was Minister and President when it happened; he cannot disclaim knowledge of the transactions. As Agathon, 447?-401 B.C, had told us, “Even God cannot change the past.” Buhari’s insistence on holding to the portfolio carries with it the risk that he will become the fourth President to be wrapped up in this mess.