We the Ijaw Union are a sociopolitical focus group dedicated to the enlightenment and defense of the Niger Delta and her people from the oppressive tendencies she has suffered throughout Nigeria’s history.
Our attention has been drawn to the ongoing public debate and investigations on the Malabu/OPL 245 saga in the media space and the extraordinary comments credited to former President OlusegunAremu Obasanjo by an online newspaper whilst in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 14, 2017when queried on the subject matter whereat he was reported to have said the following:
“What Etete did is the height of corruption. He appropriated the asset to himself illegally, illegitimately and immorally,”
“Adoke and others should not drag me into a matter I know nothing about,”. “If they have been asked to answer questions over decisions they took while in office, they should do that honorably.”
“Ask Bayo Ojo and Edmund Daukoru what really happened because the stand I took at the time was unassailable”.
“If it is proven that I indeed approved the deal, I will be willing to apologize to Nigerians. But we have to get to the bottom of it all,” the former president said.
Without prejudice to the ongoing investigations by multiple agencies in Nigeria and abroad on the Malabu /OPL 245 matter,the IJAW UNIONwould like to take the opportunity here afforded to state our position and that of most Niger Deltans on the organized witchhunt by some powerful people in Nigeria like ChiefObasanjo who believe they own Nigeria and the many others who support the continued oppression of our people and the few amongst us who would dare to assert their rights as bonafide participants of the entity called Nigeria.
The following facts are worthy of note:
Former President Obasanjo may have forgotten but the world remembers that he held sway not only as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1999 to 2007 but as it’s Petroleum Minister within the same period and in which time, performed the duties and responsibilities as enshrined within the Petroleum Act of 1969. For him to at the first hint of controversy, seek to throw his subordinates like His Majesty Chf Dakouru (then Minister of State for Petroleum) and Bayo Ojo (SAN)(then Attorney General) under the proverbial bus whilst absolving himselfof responsibility only serves to give credence to the many stories about his unstable personality and his cowardly conduct during the Nigerian civil war as stated in Brig-Gen Alabi Isama’s bookand bares ample testimony to his persona as a psychotic purveyor of untruths!
ThatPresident Obasanjoprides himself as a self-styled “farmer of Ota” is not in doubt,buthe synchronously exposes himself seriallyto be little more than a geriatric who controls the entire value chain of planting, breeding, harvesting and marketing infantile lies to an unsuspecting populace whilstattempting to bully their psyche into acceptance with his truculent and overbearing attitude.
If Chief Obasanjo now seeks to deny that he performed simple administrative functions as President and Petroleum Minister, pray tell; will he deny all other actions he took while in officebelying his oft celebrated former legendary but nowseemingly diminished memory? Note this is the same ChiefObasanjo that has written countless number of published works accusing everyone and anyone under the sun of all kinds of crimes especially as encapsulated within his infamousLetters to President’s series. This, the same man who now claims not to be aware that he approved the return of OPL 245, the most controversial oil block in the world back to Malabu Oil & Gas all in a bid for political correctness?Wonders shall never end.
For the benefit of historians let us recall that in 2001, the Aremu Obasanjo government revoked the award to Malabu Oil & Gas even after the Christopher Kolade commission set up to reviewpreviously awarded oil blocks in the country, found nothing untoward in the award to Malabu Oil & Gas. This revocation did not follow due process or indeed the Petroleum Act and what was even more curious, no reason whatsoever was given for the revocation.
Former PresidentObasanjo upon withdrawing the block from Malabu by obnoxious fiat,awarded same to Shell even though Shell was until the time of revocation, the technical partner to Malabu on the same oil block!He did this in blatant disregard of the Petroleum Act and indigenization policy, a major consideration for the award and many others like it and favored a foreign company to the detriment of the growth of Nigeria’s local industry. Does it mean He did this because he assumed a Niger DEltan was involved in the company and in his mind “how dare they?”
thereafter, despite the travesty committed against Malabu, his administration went on to negotiate directly with Shellwhereat they extracted a signature bonus of $210M from them as against the initial figure of $20M at the time of award to Malabu, this ultimate plan as would be subsequently revealed, was to appoint a local content company of their cronyto take ownership of the asset with Shell.
Despite the media fixation of an Ijaw conspiracy, it was the samePresidentObasanjo that undeniably gave presidential approvals, all in writing to reinstate Malabu’s license to OPL 245 after protracted court cases and national assembly resolutions threatened to lay waste to the asset. This approval was validated by two successive Nigerian Presidents thereafter, further calling to question the character and true motives of the unguarded utterances of Former PresidentObasanjo.
For the benefit of the doubters, former PresidentObasanjo’s government reinstated the asset to Malabu with ChiefObasanjo as Petroleum Minister and Bayo Ojo (SAN) as Attorney General, the Yar’Adua government validated it with Odein Ajumogobia (SAN) as Petroleum Minister and Michael Aoondaka as Attorney General and finally the Goodluck Johnathan administration with Diezani Madueke as minister and Mohammed Adoke (SAN) as Attorney General. If ChiefObasanjo’s claim has any currency, are we saying none of these individuals and ministries and the plethora of egg-heads that populate them including officials of Shell and ENI the other counterparties, could not have pointed out the fact that the 2006 approval to return the block to Malabu was done without the knowledge or consent of the President or Minister of Petroleum who were one and the same person?
We gather that the initial signature bonus for OPL 245 was $20M, of which the company paid an initial $2M during the General Abdusalam Abubakar era and subsequent payment of $17M made by its then technical partner, Shell. If many of the allegations of money laundering and other crimes we have read on this matter are true, why is no one indicting the General Abdusalam Abubakar regime for allowing the transaction, why not the Obasanjo regime for revoking and subsequently returning the block, the Yar’Udua regime for validating same; why cherry pick Etete and those from the last dispensation whose only crime was to give effect to what the President Obasanjo regime representing the Nigerian Federal Government had agreed to on paper in black and white?
Some may dismiss our contentions as that of “just another set of Niger Delta troublemakers” but we invite the general public to take some guidance from the recent events that transpired from therecentcourt case and forfeiture proceedings the EFCC commenced in the Federal High Court Abuja against Shell and ENI for OPL 245 and the belated attempt by the Mohammed Abacha and Pecos Energy to present themselves as the “real owners of Malabu Oil & Gas”- an attempt no doubt to illegitimatelysubsume themselvesinto any eventual outcomes and which the honorable court saw through and struck out accordingly.
Our group sees this clearly as an attempt to sacrifice an indigene of the Niger Delta as the fall guy for a transaction that has gathered notoriety in the public domain, whilst others who have no stake in the Niger Delta or its people, emerge from the shadows to benefit from the demise of one of our own. This shall not be allowed to stand!
Is it such an aberration to the Nigerian state that the minorities who live and suffer under the consequences of oil production and environmental degradation should not ever have any say or right over their own God given resources?Must all those who benefit in any shape or form come from outside the region? What is our stake in Nigeria? What is our standing?
We hope the EFCC and indeed the Nigerian government will be guided by the constitution and due process and not lend its powers and corporate image to subterranean scavengers the likes of which currently constitute themselves as hangers on within and outside the halls of Aso Rock and take guidance from the fact that the Nigerian government cannot litigate against itself irrespective of which party holds office.
We believe former President Obasanjo to be in the best position to reveal the truth on this matter, but we fear his hatred for the Niger Delta people will not allow him come clean like the statesman he oughtto be. Those unaware of the antecedents of Chief Obasanjo’s private and public life might find it strange that an individual that has held the highest office in the land on more than one occasion can resort to such unfortunate and debased falsehood to project an overbloated sense of piety and self-importance, those who know him well are not surprised.
A cursory look at his background reveals a narcissistic and debauchedmindset, one whose history and existence was onceriddled with tales of incest, marital covetousness and a rabid predilection for meddlesomeness widely reported in the media.
If this administration is truly serious about fighting corruption, then former PresidentObasanjo a man once described by the Nigerian House of Representatives as the “grandfather of corruption in Nigeria” must be called to answer open questions on the following:
The Halliburton scandal where huge amounts were traced to a long list of his political cronies and bagmen;
The Ajaokuta Steel company debacle for which his administration was indicted for many infractions because of which the plant has been left moribund to this day;
An account of the so called “Abacha loot” recovered from the Abacha family during his tenure which was in turn “relooted”. Where is the money? Where did the proceeds from the sale of the largest housing estate built for civil servants by Abacha disappear to under the Obasanjo administration? Where did the monies from the sale of all Federal Government landed property in his tenure go?
His administration reckless and irresponsible sale of Nigeria’s strategic oil interests to cronies. Can he explain to whom these oil assets were sold? Crimes that can be likened to a betrayal, abuse of power and an economic crime against the motherland.
Shouldn’t our country men and women question presidentObasanjo’s hatred for the Niger Delta and its people? Recall, that after the 2015 elections in which a Niger Delta indigene lost, a statement was credited to Chief Obasanjo betrayalof his hatred for the region, when in his usual garrulous manner boosted by an overblown ego, announced that the Niger Delta had lost its chance and would never hold power in Nigeria again (I wonder who made him God?).
This rhetoric ties in with howhis administration intentionallysold off all of 130 oil blocks during his tenure and deliberately shunned any Niger Delta indigenes who tried to participate in the acquisition of any of these assets. This wicked pettiness as many who know him well have alluded, still runs deep within his being and exposed itself when he ordered blood thirsty Nigerian troops into Odi to commit crimes against humanity by raping, maiming and killing innocent, defenseless civilians all in a bid to strike a psychological blow against the Niger Delta and in his words “put them in their place”.
His administration’s giveaway of these oil blocks reduced Nigeria to little more than a tax collecting nation with no regard for investment in the state-owned oil company, NNPC and its many subsidiaries. Little wonder that enterprise struggles today still.
The people of the Niger Delta believe proper investigations and due process must be followed in resolving the issues surrounding the Malabu/OPL 245 matter, sensationalism by our so called “statesmen” and investigative agencies have no place in the modern world and will bring us no closer to the truth.