The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but its voice is the property of the neighborhood.- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah.
Well-meaning Nigerians and our American friends should speak out on the insecurity and threat to life prevalent in our society under the Obasanjo regime. In about 3 years into his presidency), almost 20,000 people, men, women, and children have lost their lives to violence and rampage occasioned by religious and ethnic differences. Why does this regime fan the embers of religious and ethnic differences in our country? Have we not always enjoyed religious freedom and accepted each other's right to hold his or her religious belief? We're working with other patriots for Nigeria's democratic future and progress. As we and millions of Nigerians pray for God to redirect and save the country, practical electoral steps are also required to vote against this corrupt leadership and save Nigerians from those who hold the reins of power in this failed and impeachable government of Obasanjo's.....
On May 29, 2002, Nigeria marked the return in 1999 to its latest efforts at democratic governance. Given the record of the incumbent president, retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, to be frank, that quest at democracy is still going on, and Nigeria is not quite there. Hence, many concerned Nigerians are speaking out and political fireworks are in the making in Nigeria.
It is important to inform the international community, the Jimmy Carter Center and others who seem to have been cajoled and misled by Obasanjo's sloganeering about "anti-corruption" while running a very corrupt, unproductive, unfocused, ethnically-discriminatory and inept government the country, that 2002 and 2003 must open new and better opportunities for our great country. The Obasanjo charade needs to be exposed.
As Nigerians seek international businesses, a better reputation and opportunities for being involved with the international community, one can only imagine the damage done to our image as a nation when Gen. Obasanjo , in the full glare of the international and national media, screams, intimidates and rains abuses at citizens who were, understandably, in despair - having lost loved ones at the recent deadly explosions at the mismanaged armoury under Obasanjo's watch at Ikeja (Lagos), some of them maimed and others had loved ones missing after the explosion in the Ikeja cantonment in January this year.
Such reaction is what we face daily and reflects how much retired Gen. Obasanjo feels responsible for Nigerians as their ruler.
How does his performance compare with the reaction of the United States President after the unfortunate events of September 11, 2001? While President George Bush took it as a national and personal calamity, our own President saw the Ikeja cantonment disaster as not reflecting his responsibility or duty, but an inconveniencing issue, as he shouted "Shut up... I'm not supposed to be here!" It got worse.
I, Dan Loya Etete, the distinguished Senator and former Petroleum Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hereby reflect the concerns of many Nigerians, concerned Americans and Africans. It has increased and mounted with the recent Abuja declaration of Gen. Obasanjo to run for a 2nd term with his vice president Atiku Abubakar. Note that Obasanjo had served as miliatry dictator from February 1976-1979.
I, Etete, like most patriots, have drawn attention to the fact that in three years in office, Obasanjo's rule have. largely, brought economic hardships, inflation, insecurity, and ethnic clashes to millions of Nigerians. Essentially, they have done incalculable harm to the reputation of our great country. In the three years of the under-achieving duo of Obasanjo and Atiku, the global community now regards Nigeria as the most corrupt country in the world -- seeing beyond the posturing of Obasanjo as 'Mr. Ethics.' The Obasanjo regime has carried corruption to new heights, corruption is now endemic in government.
With other patriots, we have diagnosed the situation as typical of a rotten fish, which deteriorates from the head first, and progressively down through the body.
We believe that with a facade of anti-corruption gimmick, the President (Obasanjo) and his Vice have designed what they consider a solid protection system, using associates to carry out deals and a racket of appropriating national assets as their private estates under the guise of privatizing national economic institutions and establishments.
The businesses and fronts used for these activities include the efforts of Obasanjo's kinsman, Otunba Fasawe. He's Obasanjo's roving ambassador to contractors and the signatory to untold numbers of contracts on his master's behalf. We know and have seen through their gimmicks. International business persons are scandalized.
There is an Italian collaborator with the Obasanjo team; a certain Signor G. Volpi who is also the Manager of Intels, the company which is connivance with highly-placed executives of government in the marginalization of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). Volpi and Intels, we believe, have since taken over the NPA's functions for private gain.
We believe that the other business fronts used by the corrupt leadership mismanaging the affairs of our fatherland include:
•a certain Dr. Baggi, another Italian businessman, partner of Volpi's who professes to practice law in Lugamo, Switzerland.
•Alhaji Abba Usman, Mohammed Adamu, and Adamu Yaro. The damage done to the Nigerian economy and our country's reputation by Gen. Obasanjo's associates, frontmen, and team of wheelers and dealers can only be imagined. Yet, Obasanjo says he is fighting corruption! "Fighting" corruption indeed.
To imagine these are the people who say they want to continue to rule Nigeria and are now scheming to keep competent and dedicated citizens from contesting the next election with contrived INEC impossible hurdles. It is sad, and the international community should be aware that Gen. Obasanjo has perfected political and economic witch-hunting to ruin many.
"If you are not with us, you must be against us" is their motto. If one is not a sycophant, he is perceived as Yes, the dictator and his accomplices wish to remain in office while they continue with their abuse of office and disdain for the laws of our country.
We lament that the duo of Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar are close to balkanizing our great country, Nigeria. "We must not let them," he cautions, "it is our country; one where we all have an equal stake and to whose defense we must fearlessly rally.... The Gen. Obasanjo team is no longer fit to run the affairs of our state and they must be stopped legally and politically.
Among many posers, Etete would want Obasanjo to answer the question: who owns Beach Land Estate?
Obasanjo must not hold the view Nigerians have very short memory or that they do not care. How does he explains his attempts to dispossess his erstwhile friend, Chief Egunjobi of the Beach Land Estate.
In his first coming as Head of State, he claims he built the estate and on leaving office he took his former friend Chief Egunjobi to court and shamelessly proclaimed there that he used the latter as a front.
He did not tell the court, as Nigerians wanted to know, how he came by the money to build the Estate. The court saw through him and struck out his lawsuit.
Two issues immediately arose from the outcome of this escapade. The first is the serial nature of the activities which we believe reflect Obasanjo's corruption. Having claimed before a Nigerian law court the Estate belonged to him; he must answer the question as to where he got the resources to build it? His salary and allowances, while in office, are known to Nigerians.
The court refused to be deceived and with him unwilling to declare the sources of the finance for the Beach Land Estate, the court made it clear he did not prove he owned the Estate.
Corruption is not a newly acquired attributed of this regime and their cohorts.
The other matter arising from this episode is the character of Gen. Obasanjo as a covetous person. He must own what he sees and he sees and likes even if it means illegally dispossessing the rightful owner. It could have been he saw Chief Egunjibo's Beach Land Estate; he liked it and therefore, wanted it. In his characteristic style, coveted it and Bingo, it had to be his. The only limitation at the time is that he forgot he was no longer Head of State.
When it dawned on him, he wondered what to do. He choose the option of litigation, half forgetting there are judges who guard their integrity jealously in Nigeria.
The rest is now history, Egunjobi was saved his Estate and the litigant was taught a simple lesson: live and let live.
Another issue: Take the so-called privatization of Nigerdock for example; even before the commencement of the sitting of the Commission of Inquiry into the management of Nigerdock and over the protest of the responsible minister, Obasanjo's government announced the privatization of the dockyard. When the "successful" bidder could not pay the price, Obasanjo, in all haste, extended the payment due to be sure the facility was sold. What was the haste and what was being covered up? Yet everyone recalls the stand of government during the bidding exercise for GSM licenses. For this regime, what is good for the goose is not not good for the gander!
Here again, we are seeing the same thing with the attempted privatization of NITEL; selective treatment of preferred buyers. Some anti-corruption fight!
President owes the nation a full explanation of his so-called transparency in governance. Let Nigerians see the wheeling and dealing going on in this government and let them be the judges of how transparency things have been under the Obasanjo regime. It would appear the duo of Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar have turned their backs on the Federal Republic of Nigeria; their primary interest now is Obasanjo, Atiku, Fasawe (Nigeria), Unlimited!
While Obasanjo gallivants about abroad, our social services are in decay; healthcare is still at a primitive stage. Education has been abandoned and University teachers are daily threatened with reprisal as if they are errant school children! Public transport and other infrastructure have collapsed under the ineptitude of Obasanjo's government.
Nigeria's debt burden has risen under this government; the international community worries our financial system is on the verge of collapse, Heavens helps us; we are Argentina in the making! The people must resist the enthronement of this incompetent team on our country and must not allow them another term in office.
How does this regime wish to be remembered? Gen. Gowon's regime will be remembered for the tremendous contribution to infrastructural development in the country; its strenuous effort to defend the unity of Nigeria and sports
development. If we look around, we see roads, fly-overs, the National Stadium, the National Theatre, the refineries, regional and international airports all over the country and so on. Alhaji Shehu Shagari will be remembered for the focus on Agriculture, investment in fertilizer production and the defense of Nigeria's oil market share in probably the most difficult market the Nigerian oil industry has faced in its history.
His bold and defining assertion, "Nigerian will match the North Sea oil pricing policy, cent for cent!" was countervailing; it checkmated the pricing strategy of the North Sea oil producers and saved Nigeria from economic ruin. The initial infrastructure for Abuja was put in place during his regime.
What of retired Gen Ibrahim Badarnasi Babangida? He invested in the development of Abuja, he introduced indeginization to the upstream segment of the petroleum sector and granted acreage to Nigerians, a situation that was previously the preserve of expatriate companies.
The Babangida regime developed the Petrochemical industry in Nigeria and carried it to where it is today.
Obasanjo may say what he likes about his predecessors in office, but he has been compared unfavorably with the latter in the management of our national economy. When respected citizens draw his attention to this simple fact, Obansanjo does what he knows best; he becomes abusive and refuses to listen to professional advice.
How much our economy has suffered under this inept regime can only be imagined. One only needs to see how inflation has accelerated, how the Naira exchange rate has deteriorated in the years since Obasanjo returned to power in Nigeria, how interest rates on loans have sky-rocketed and how businesses have suffered from the lowest level of capacity utilization recorded in modern Nigerian history. How, one may ask, does Chief Obasanjo want his regime to be remembered? As an abrasive dictatorial regime, one, that led the country to economic hardships, police and ethnic violence, and anarchy.
Gen. Obasanjo's regime will go down in history as one marked by mismanagement, corruption, witch-hunting, and a total breakdown of law and order! This regime has wrought destruction on our land and our people. Soldiers and policemen are being killed as towns and villages are being sacked.
The country is nearly in a state of anomie. How many people would die in inter-community clashes before Chief Obasanjo's government would realize it has done nothing to foster national unity. In the popular Nigerian parlance, his regime will be remembered as "kill and go!" This is a regime that has shown so much disdain for its citizens that it has turned vehicles into barracks for senior and junior police officers who are forced, out of neglect, to sleep in such vehicles with their families. The conditions of service which the police are made to serve under are so appalling that for the first time in our history the police went on strike.
How will this Obasanjo government be remembered?
Retired Gen. Obasanjo's disdain for human rights in legendary; one only has to look back at his first coming as Head of State to imagine how Nigerians have suffered under his regime. One would recall what he did to innocent Nigerians in Ita-Oko.
While now touting his new conversion to human rights, he appears to have forgotten the torture many were subjected to under his regime.
Well-meaning Nigerians must talk out and ask to be heard on the insecurity and threat to life prevalent in our society under the Obasanjo regime. Almost 20,000 people, men, women, and children have lost their lives to violence and rampage occasioned by religious and ethnic differences.
Why does this regime fan the embers of religious and ethnic differences in our country? Have we not always enjoyed religious freedom and accepted each other's right to hold his or her religious belief? We're working with other patriots for Nigeria's democratic future and progress. As we and millions of Nigerians pray for God to redirect and save the country, Practical steps are also required to save Nigeria from this corrupt leadership and from those who hold the reins of power in this failed and impeachable government of Obasanjo's.
Above all, Nigeria should remain united, keep its trust in God as we seek to build a better, ethical and productive country - away from the Obasanjo years of waste!
Signed: Dan Etete, Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria (and former Minister).