Jonathan, Abati and the Ribadu Report – Chido Onumah

Published:16 Nov, 2012

Jonathan, Abati and the Ribadu Report – Chido Onumah

Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe are amongst the best in their business. And by this, I mean the business of dissembling. That was exactly what Abati did in his latest treatise, “Jonathan and the Ribadu Report”. I don’t begrudge both men. Their job is to be evasive and to try as much as possible to mislead while continuously throwing lies at us in the hope that some will stick; our responsibility is to cut through their BS. Indeed, it was a lot of BS that Abati attempted to heap on us in his last outing.

Abati began his latest assault on our collective sensibilities with an overdose of insult when he wrote, “It is so unfortunate that there has been so much ignorant carping and malicious tittle-tattling about the report of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force chaired by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, both failings arising from a deliberate attempt to individualise what was actually a group work, a mischievous attempt to politicise one report out of three, and to smuggle into an emergent grand web of conspiracy, elements of blackmail, mischief and outright opportunism”.

As the master of BS himself, Abati knows too well that the “putrefacious stench of the fart that seems to have overtaken the subject” comes from no other place than the Presidency. Here is a chronology of the Presidency and Abati’s metamorphosis on the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force report.

A few days after the report was made public by Reuters, Abati claimed it was meant to embarrass the government. According to him, “excerpts from the report could not be taken as an official document because the committee had not formally submitted its report to the appropriate authority. As far as the Federal Government was concerned, the report in the public domain was suspicious”. This was the first clear attempt to undermine the PRSTF report.

Abati then went on to qualify the task of the committee and foreclose the prospect of anyone being held to account: “For the avoidance of doubt and for the benefit of the naysayers, the committees were set up as fact-finding and advisory bodies to generate ideas and recommendations about how best to strengthen the oil and gas sector and to further pursue the objectives of institutional integrity, transparency and accountability”. Abati didn’t see anything wrong in Steve Orosanye and Bernard Otti being appointed into different positions in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation while serving on the PRSTF. “It is important to note that this committee and other committees had government officials and ex-staff as members,” he intoned.

We all know the role Oronsaye and Otti played in their attempt to scuttle the report during its submission to the President on November 2. Their infamous intervention was done at great insult and inconvenience to the President. But who cares or rather, who gives a damn? Of course, insult and inconvenience count for nothing when billions of dollars and the President’s anointed are involved.

A week after the PRSTF submitted its report, as it became evident that the controversy instigated by the Presidency will simply not go away, Abati’s ‘second-in-command’ and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, the voluble Doyin Okupe, alerted us to paragraph four of the covering letter of the PRSTF report signed by Ribadu and the secretary, Olasupo Shasore, SAN.

The offending paragraph which Okupe alludes to, states: “The data used in this report was presented by various stakeholders who made submissions to the Task Force at various dates, which have been disclosed in relevant sections of the report. Due to the time frame of the assignment, SOME (emphasis mine) of the data used could not be independently verified and the Task Force recommends that the government should conduct such necessary verification and reconciliation.”

The implication of this “overriding” paragraph in Okupe’s omniscient reasoning was that “the committee had issued a disclaimer to its own report which will now make it impossible under our laws to indict or punish anybody except and until the Federal Government fully verifies and reconciles the facts as recommended by the committee in its submission to the government.” Can anything be more contradictory? Can Okupe be more ridiculous and unconvincing? The committee admitted that the reason it could not verify SOME of the data used was the “time frame” of the assignment. How does this constitute a “disclaimer” or absolve those responsible for the rot in the oil sector as indicated in the report?

In his desperate effort to stand reality on its head, Okupe shoots himself in the foot when he says the “disclaimer” will “make it impossible to indict or punish anybody except and until the Federal Government fully verifies and reconciles the facts as recommended by the committee in its submission to the government”. In one instance, he calls the committee’s statement a “disclaimer”; in another, he praises the report by implying that the government will do what the committee recommends it does: “conduct such necessary verification and reconciliation”. How addlebrained can one be in the defence of falsehood? Okupe’s assurance that a White Paper will be issued and the recommendations would be fully implemented after the Presidency completes the uncompleted work of the PRSTF is as reassuring as asking Okupe to head the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Back to Abati and his disdain for truth and commonsensical argument. He accused Zakari Mohammed, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, of “talking absent-mindedly about ‘lack of political will’ to fight corruption” in his (Mohammed’s) criticism of the President’s handling of the PRSTF report. There is nothing new about Mohammed’s postulation. Every right-thinking Nigerian holds that view.

This government has no redeeming feature. It was clear from the outset that the Presidency was looking for ways to undermine the PRSTF report so as to let itself and its cronies off. The Presidency was not interested in the committee’s report. If it was, it would not have created so much ruckus around the report. It simply would have given the committee extra time to finish its work if it felt the report was incomplete.

With the PRSTF report, President Goodluck Jonathan has met his waterloo. Thankfully, the report has received the support of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. NEITI says the PRSTF report reechoes the findings detailed in its own report on the monumental corruption and waste in the oil and gas sector that have yet to be implemented.

Aso Rock under President Jonathan has become a graveyard of committee reports. We have lost count of the number of committees Jonathan has set up since May 6, 2010, when he first became President. There is a common thread to all the committee reports: their non-implementation.

To say the government lacks the “political will” to fight corruption is to be charitable to the President. This government has made corruption the directive principle of state policy. This was evident the very moment President Jonathan failed the political-will-to-fight-corruption litmus test when he refused to publicly declare his asset at the inception of his government on May 29, 2011, and went ahead during a nation-wide media chat on national TV in June to heap scorn on Nigerians by saying he did not “give a damn” about declaration of asset.

At that very moment, President ‘IDGAD’ Jonathan declared war, not on corruption, but against Nigerians.

 

– by Chido Onumah (conumah@hotmail.com)

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Fix The Economy Now, Gowon Tells President Buhari

Former Head of state , General Yakubu Gowon (retd), yesterday, took a retrospective look at the situation in the country and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the country’s economy regain its strength to alleviate the suffering of the masses. Gen. Gowon Gowon spoke at Ile-Ife at a programme, Health Caravan and Award ceremony for the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, who was conferred with the Royal Ambassador for Hepatitis Advocacy in Nigeria by the Seham...

Saraki, Akpabio, Daniel, Odili, Ladoja Included In AGF’s List For Fresh Probe, Trial

Senate President Bukola Saraki, factional Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff; and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, are among 31 former governors whose alleged corruption cases investigated by the anti-graft agencies are likely to be reopened soon. The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Tuesday that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had written to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, directing the reopening of...

Photos From Requiem Mass For Former Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi

The Funeral rites of former Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has commenced with a a requiem mass currently holding at the St Paul's Catholic Church in Benin City, Edo state. His children, family members, Football enthusiasts and others are attending the mass. More photos below...          

Woman Caught On CCTV Dumping Her Baby Just Two Hours After Giving Birth

20-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly dumping her two-hour-old newborn baby inside a plastic bag and running away.  She abandoned her baby in a pink plastic bag that was later spotted by shocked locals in Wangjiaoqiao village, south-west China. The child whose gender was not revealed, was rushed to hospital by police for emergency treatment but did not survive. In an attempt to find her, Investigators...

Senegalese footballer, Demba Ba Returns Home After Undergoing Leg Surgery

Senegalese footballer Demba Ba has returned home after he had a surgery for his broken leg. Demba suffered a horrendous leg-break on Sunday July 17th during a match with his team, Shanghai Shenhua against bitter rivals Shanghai SIPG. Sharing this new photo on his IG page, Demba wrote   "Feels good to be back home after 10 days at the hospital. Thanks once again to everyone single one of you guys in every corner of the world . I feel...

Elle Magazine Features Omotola As One Of 50 Women Shaping Africa

Elle magazine SA in its August Edition featured 50 Outstanding women shaping the Continent and names them #TheIncredibles. In an Article put together by International writer Dimeji Alara, the careful selection was made from different works of life and ages, mostly for their leading positive influences on the continent. Also on the list are  Supermodel Liya kedebe, writer Chimamanda Adichie, Style House files MD Omoyemi Akerele, film director Mildred Okwo and many...

SHOCKING!! [Video] Pope Francis Falls Over During Mass In Front Of Worshippers

This is the moment Pope Francis fell over during Mass in front of a television audience of millions while visiting Poland's holiest site. The 79-year-old Pontiff stumbled at the altar and had to be helped to his feet as he celebrated a Mass at the at the Jasna Gora Monastery in the southern city of Czestochowa. He was at the monastery, home to an ancient Catholic icon believed to work miracles, ahead...

Fire Stunt Gone Bad During Nollywood Movie Filming, Actor Badly Burnt

A near death incident was averted on a Nollywood set recently when a promising actor, Ani Iyoho was badly burnt while playing a fire stunt on the set of a movie. An actor on set with Ani said while the actor was burning, the fire extinguisher on set did not work and Stanlee allegedly shocked everyone by continuing filming with the intention of adding the real fire incident to the film. Ani,...

Nigerian Arrested In India For Selling Bitter Kola As A Cure For Treating AIDS

According to the Hindu reports, A Nigerian man identified as Eleazar, was nabbed on Sunday alongside three accomplices for cheating a local resident at Naya Nagar, Mira Road, one Anil Mathur of nearly Rs. 23 lakh in an online scam. It was reported that they met on the social media and developed a friendship, after which, Eleazar offered Mathur a dealership in seeds that he claimed he used to produce expensive medicines in Nigeria The...

Buhari Approves Funds For Abuja Airport Runway

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved funds for the repair of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, runway. The Federal Government said the repair would be handled by local contractors after the conclusion of a bid process. The runway, which was designed and built in 1982 and expected to last for 20 years, is yet to witness any repair about 34 years after it was designed. Speaking in Abuja after an inspection of the runway,...

Man Eats Up A Big Basin Of Noodles After 48 Hours Of Incessant Work

They say this really happened in China. A Chinese firefighter ate up a whole pot of noodles after 48 hours of incessant firefighting in Lishui, east ?China?'s Zhejiang on Monday. More pics below...       

Asari Dokubo Loses Wife To Road Accident

Zainab Asari Dokubo, wife of Mujahid Asari Dokubo, founder of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), is dead.   She was reportedly involved in a motor accident while on her way to Ibadan, Oyo state capital, for a religious programme. Details of her death are still sketchy, but Rex Anighoro, spokesman of the NDPVF leader, confirmed the tragic incident.   “I have been at the mortuary all day. I saw so many dead bodies; some very young, some old,” he told TheCable.   “Life...

National Open University of Nigeria To Commence Scholarship Programme For IDPs

Prof. Abdalla Adamu, the Vice-Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), has said that the university is working towards offering scholarships to 100 Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) in the country. Adamu, who stated this at the 1st NOUN Distinguished Lecture on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the university was working in collaboration with a local bank on the initiative. He said that the institution had made its willingness to educate IDPs known to one of the leading banks...

Traffic Law Enforcement: 35 FRSC Officers Killed By Drivers

At least 35 regular marshals of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, have been killed by motorists on highways across the country in the past one year.   The Niger State Commander of the FRSC, Susan Ajenge, who made this disclosure on the floor of the Niger State House of Assembly, said the development occurred when the officers were trying to enforce simple safety regulations on the highways.   She said another staff recently knocked down by a driver while trying to clear...

Sokoto Government Arrests Racketeers Reselling Free Fertilisers.

Sokoto State Government says it is currently investigating some fertiliser racketeers, who were reportedly arrested in Sabon-Birni Local Government area of the State.   The state Commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Umaru Nagwari, made the disclosure at news briefing organised by the Ministry of Information in collaboration with the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). He said that those arrested were involved in the fertiliser fraud, as they were buying and reselling the 9,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser bought...

Nigerian Man Divorces Wife Of 21 Years Because Of Her Horrible Cooking

A 46-year-old woman, Aisha, on Wednesday lost her 21-year-old marriage to her husband, Ashimiyu, over poor cooking. The petitioner, Ashimiyu, 54, approached the court and asked it to dissolve the marriage over his wife’s alleged poor cooking. “My wife does not know how to cook, her food was always tasteless. Anytime she cooks and I complain about it, she will tell me to cook myself.  I started cooking my food because if I had continued to...

“Don’t Use Military Action Against Niger Delta Avengers” – Governor Seriake Dickson

The governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson has revealed that he advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to employ any military operation against Niger Delta Avengers.   Addressing state house correspondents after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Dickson said dialogue has a key role to play in restoring peace to the region.   He said: “The military solutions as I have always maintained is not the right option. We are hopeful that the ongoing discussions will yield the desired result,” he said.   “I...

Military To Launch ‘Operation Ex-Crocodile Smile’ In Niger Delta

NIGER Delta Avengers, NDA, have said that President Muhammadu Buhari was free to step up oil exploration in the North East, but should forget about the export of any drop of crude oil from the Niger Delta. Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, has said that the military under his command will from this weekend launch Operation Ex-Crocodile Smile to practise Special Forces Troops in Amphibious and IS operations in riverine areas in...

Delta State: Prosper Esegbue Defects To The APC Along With Over 1000 Supporters.

Barrister Prosper Esegbue, former Chairmanship Aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State, has defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with his supporters numbering over 1000.   The former PDP chieftain, who addressed his supporters during the defection ceremony at Obiaruku, maintained that he decided with his followers to move to APC after realising that PDP had nothing more to offer Nigerians having destroyed the country for 16 years.   The legal luminary explained that since...

Budget Padding: 100 Reps Want Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa, And Leo Ogor Prosecuted.

Members of the House of Representatives, under aegis of Transparency Group, yesterday, told the anti-graft agencies to wade into alleged padding of the 2016 budget by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; his deputy, Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip, Ado Doguwa, and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, and ensure credible investigation.   The group also claimed that it had collected signatures from about 100 members of the House, cutting across the six geopolitical zones of the country and from different political parties, dissociating themselves from...

Nigeria’s Olympic Squad Suffering in Training Camp, Siasia Owed 5 Months Salary.

Head coach of Nigeria’s U-23 team, Samson Siasia, has revealed that he is being owed salaries for five months, by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).   Siasia is currently in Atlanta, Georgia with his squad, as they continue to prepare for next month’s Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.   “We are suffering in Atlanta. We have not received any money since we arrived this training camp. I have not been paid for the past five months,” Siasia said.   “We will not hold the country...