Between Remi And Olusegun Obasanjo

I have read many scandalous books in my life, but none comes close to Madam Oluremi Obasanjo’s book, Bitter Sweet – My Life With Obasanjo. Remi Obasanjo is former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s first wife and probably the only one respectably wedded to him. Even Stella’s marriage to him was  solemnised only a few weeks to her sad death in 2005, almost 30 years after their son was born. The first questions that crossed my mind after I finished reading the 141-page book, which I gobbled in less than an hour because of its gripping effect, were: Who brought this man to be president? Why did God make him president over us? Since it is said that every nation deserves its leaders, are we really that bad to deserve someone who should not even have been made the leader of a hamlet?

This brings me to a very interesting story that Senator Dangana Ndayako told me at the beginning of the transition in 1999. The former senator had met the late Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Umar Sanda Ndayako, at his palace in Bida one morning, long before it became obvious to the world that General Obasanjo was being spruced up to become the president of Nigeria. In the course of their discussion, he told the Etsu that General Ibrahim Babangida and a few others were trying to get Obasanjo to contest the presidency of the nation. Looking perplexed and only slightly amused, the Etsu asked Dangana a very curious question: “Does Babangida know Olu at all?” Dangana, surprised at the question, answered in the affirmative. “Of course, Babangida knows Obasanjo very well, both having worked closely together”, he told the Etsu. To which the Etsu said, “No, Babangida does not know Olu. Their relationship was a superior-subordinate relationship when they worked together. So he never could have known him sufficiently to make a judgement.” The Etsu then subsequently warned that even though he would do nothing to stop what Babangida and co were doing, because of his own friendship with “Olu”, Babangida and co would all eventually regret their action.

Dangana, who like most of us was also in the vanguard of Obasanjo-for-president, was confused. He knew that few knew Obasanjo better than the Etsu at the time because they (Obasanjo and the late Etsu) had lived as neighbours in Lagos for a very long time. In fact, when he was made Etsu Nupe by General Yakubu Gowon, the then Brigadier Obasanjo was one of the Etsu-designate’s close friends who escorted him to Bida to assume the throne of his ancestors. The rest is now history.

Having read Madam Remi’s book, I feel Obasanjo should never have been president of anybody. In fact, Obasanjo should not be allowed to lead anyone. He does not have the gift of leadership at all in his blood. That Nigeria is now worse off than it was in 1999 when he met it, and the fact that the future of the nation is now even more uncertain show clearly the disaster that Obasanjo as a person is.

Remi Obasanjo, even though very scandalous herself, sketches this very lucidly in her book. It was she who virtually stopped her husband from even being considered for the lofty office of the United Nations secretary-general when she wrote an open letter widely publicised in the media in which she posited that her former husband, whom she knew better than anyone else in the world, lacked the basic requirement of good character necessary for the job in question. And when Obasanjo finally made up his mind to contest the presidency of Nigeria, he had to threaten her against attempting to scuttle that again. She succumbed to the threat. But the Yoruba as a group warned all of us against voting for the man they knew so well. We thought they had other petty reasons to be against one of their own. We should have listened.

In the book, I could not count the number of times Obasanjo slapped his wife, Madam Remi, or the number of times she herself slapped many of Obasanjo’s numerous mistresses and paramours, including almost biting off the breast of one of them. Their daughter Iyabo herself was not left out of the reality movie in their scandal-soaked home. Iyabo once almost beat up her former vice principal at Queen’s College, Lagos, because she thought the lady was sleeping with her father. Obasanjo, even as chief of staff supreme headquarters in 1975, refused to pay his wife’s hospital bills,  including the bills at St. Nicolas Hospital, Lagos, after she (Madam Remi) had been delivered of one of her daughters, Enitan, because of family squabbles.  MD Yusuf, the then IG of police, whom she describes as a “very good man”, paid the bill.

She also informs us of the physical brawl between her husband and Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle in Major General Hassan Usman Katsina’s office. According to her own story, it was Obasanjo who first slapped Col. Adekunle in the presence of their boss, General Hassan. When the fight started, Gen. Hassan shouted at his aide to call in the press to record the scandal. When they heard the word “press”, they  stopped and apologised to him. Gen. Hassan was then the chief of army staff.

We also learn from the book that even though Obasanjo’s children are well-educated, contrary to what we once thought, it was Madam Remi who, for most part, was responsible for their very good education. She was responsible for their children, most of whom currently have PhDs.

She also declares in her book that General Hassan Usman Katsina and General Yakubu Gowon were her husband’s godfathers. But many would be disappointed that she does not have a view on their second son Gbenga’s allegation that Obasanjo slept with Mojisola, his wife. Maybe even for Madam Remi herself, that debasement was too hot to handle.

But the book also has some very comical interludes. Madam Remi exposes Obasanjo’s proclivity towards the fetish. There was a time he attempted to lock her out of their bedroom because he had an appointment with his resident babalawo to perform some rituals at night. She refused to vacate the room and locked Obasanjo out of their bedroom. Obasanjo, very angry with her, dispensed a few slaps to her face as a recompense.

And one day during the civil war, a medicine man came in with some charms for Obasanjo that would protect him from enemy fire. But before Obasanjo would pay the native doctor for his professional services, he needed to be sure of the potency of the charm. He then asked that the amulet be tested on an innocent duck grazing in their compound. He tied the amulet around the duck’s neck, picked his gun and aimed a shot at it. That duck unfortunately met its  death on that day.

The fake native doctor left Obasanjo’s home a disgraced man. It was Obasanjo’s native intelligence that paid off that day.
Madam Remi portrays Obasanjo as a very worthless, very wicked, very unreasonable and very crude man. She says that when it was time for him to divorce her, he rigged the divorce in his favour. She used the word “rig” herself. She acknowledges that Obasanjo’s presidency was a total disaster for Nigeria. But that is one assertion she does not need any effort to prove at all. Obasanjo was so wicked that, after he had finished with Nigeria, he decided to deal us a final deadly blow, the unkindest cut of all, as a parting shot: he rigged Yar’Adua on us!

E A R S H O T
Yar’Adua And His Cabinet
Finally, subsequently and at last, the president appointed members of his cabinet which was inaugurated last week. Even then, the ministers are not complete. And, looking at the quality of the ministers, anyone would have been able to cobble that cabinet together in less than one week. I can count the Class A ministers, those we should expect any meaningful service from, on the fingers of one hand.
Let’s just hope that the president does not for any reason contemplate another cabinet reshuffle for the approximately two years – or only one year of effective work – that he has left.

Jim Ovia Arrested

Managing Director (MD) of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, was yesterday, arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was picked up yesterday evening in connection with N3.6 billion allegedly diverted from the Rivers State government house. Although the Manager has given his statement at the commission’s Headquarters, there were indications at press time that he may be held in custody.

The EFCC on Tuesday this week, arrested three Managers of Zenith Bank, among them the Branch Manager, Operations Manager and the Accountant in charge of the government house account. The three will be held in custody till January 12, 2009 and subsequently charged for conspiracy and money laundering when the courts resume after the Judiciary workers’ strike.

The travails of Zenith bank began recently when EFCC declared five officials of the Rivers State Government wanted for alleged misappropriation, money laundering and fraudulent diversion of funds to the tune of N3.6 billion.

The officials who were declared wanted are Mr. Robert C. Aya – Permanent Secretary, Government House, Port Harcourt; Mr. Fubara Kingsley Hart – Director of Finance and Admin, Government House, Port Harcourt and Mr. Harrison B.A.

Princewill- Government House Staff, Port Harcourt. Others are Mr. Nathan Wike- Government House Staff, Port Harcourt. and Mr. Bright Ikonwa- Cashier, Government House, Port Harcourt.

It would also be recalled that the Commission had in October this year invited two prominent officials of Rivers State for questioning. The duo, Secretary to the state government, Magnus Abe and Chief of Staff, Nyelson Wike were invited and held by the anti-graft agency to answer charges relating to N300 million scam.

While Wike was charged to court because a prima facie case had been established against him, the SSG got bail because he was not involved in the scam. Abe, according to sources, was arrested and detained because he had written an undertaking to the EFCC that he would take the state officials, who were invited for interrogation by the anti-graft commission last Monday, but failed to do so.

It was alleged at the time that the Chief of Staff to the governor, Nyeson Wike, in connivance with Zenith Bank officials at the Azikiwe Road branch, opened one of the accounts (Number 601-091-6587) on March 27th 2008 with the fictitious name, “Harrison Ba Princewill.” The account lacked such required information as passport photographs and information about the next of kin of “Harrison B. Princewill”.

According to sources, the account was fully active and enjoying daily inflows of cash such that by April 26 2008, that is, within one month, it had already been credited with N3.6 billion ($30 million).As the money swelled in Zenith bank, officials notified Wike that the account was being monitored for suspicious activities. On June 5th 2008, Mr. Wike colluded with a Zenith bank staff named “Mohammed” to change the account details and convert it to a “Government House Account”. “Harrison Ba Princewill” then became a depositor to the new “Government House Account”.

In a related development, Chairman of the Ukwa East Local Government Area in Abia State, Glory O. Kanu, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), for stealing over N16.4 million from the council.

The chairman, who was picked up by operatives of the anti-corruption agency at the weekend, will be cooling his heels in its custody until January 12, 2009 when he will be arraigned in court.

An EFCC source told LEADERSHIP that the council chairman is alleged to have awarded a contract to one Anthony Obi, the Managing Director of TMV Logistic Limited and Tony More Ventures for a construction job at the local government headquarters.

The contract, the source disclosed, was awarded for N35 million and after paying the money upfront, the council boss asked the contractor to deposit N16.4 million in a Zenith Bank account which he claimed was a local government account.

“He asked the contractor to pay N16.4 million into a Zenith Bank account purported to be the local government account but which later turned out to be his personal account,” the source said.

The source added that when the contractor started construction, the chairman ordered him to divert building materials, particularly iron rods worth N1.3 million to his personal house project at Ohandu, his home town.

When contacted, EFCC’s head of Media and Publicity, Femi Babafemi, confirmed the arrest and said the council chairman would be held in custody until he is arraigned.

 

Mahmoud Muhammad, Sokoto

A disease suspected to be meningitis has claimed the lives of twenty nine persons, most of them children in Aggur village of Shagari Local government in Sokoto state .

LEADERSHIP

sources revealed that forty five persons are said to have been receiving treatment in their houses as a result of the disease .

Mallam Abubakar Dikko , a resident of the area told LEADERSHIP yesterday that the people have now embarked on fervent prayers to seek divine intervention from the shackles of the epidemic .

The villagers also claimed that they had reported the outbreak to the authorities of Shagari local government since last Friday but no action has been taken by them .

The Deputy Director of Primary Healthcare Department in the area , Alhaji Ibrahim Isa confirmed the story .

He however, disclosed that only twenty four ( 24) died as a result of the outbreak of the disease .

The Permanent Secretary in the state’s Ministry of Health , Alhaji Umaru Attahiru also confirmed only ‘five to six deaths.”

Attahiru stated that the Ministry had yesterday despatched a high-powered medical team to the area .

The Permanent Secretary further said that , the state government has directed the local government to isolate the recuperating victims of the epidemic .

“The patients are presenting back pains, diarrhoea and fever. We will get to the root of the matter soon,’ he vowed.

Dauda Mbaya, Maiduguri

Islamic leaders and Ulamas in Borno State have been urged to educate their followers on the importance of immunising their children against the six killer diseases.

The Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Alhaji Baba Gaji Bulama, made the call at a sensitisation workshop organised in Maiduguri recently.

The workshop was attended by Ulamas Sangaya and Islamic school Head teachers, voluntary Islamic organisations and scholars in the state.

The commissioner, who was represented by the director of religious affairs in the ministry, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi, stated that the vaccines were safe and that the vaccine were meant to bring up healthy leaders of tomorrow in the country.

World Health Organisation (WHO) consultant in Borno State, Alhaji Mustapha Mijinyawa, explained that the vaccines boost the immune system of children and prevent them from the devastating effects of these six killer diseases.

Malam Aminu Kano, UNICEF representative in Borno State, stressed the importance of social mobilisation in achieving the objective of all public oriented programmes.

He disclosed that there would be another round of immunisation in January 2009 and urged participants at the workshop to mobilise their people for its success, adding that the immunisation vaccines are also available in all hospitals and health institutions in the state.

Measles Campaign Suffers Set Back

Integrated Measles Campaign in Cross River State suffered a severe setback as children immunised were not given insecticide Treated Bed Nets as it is done in other states. The five-day campaign which started on Wednesday, December, 10th 2008 witnessed large turn out in some areas particularly in thickly populated farming settlements and Local Government Areas but the parents of the children were disappointed as they were not given the treated bed vets after immunisation.

Mothers who took their children for the immunisation expressed shock as their children were not given the nets given the massive radio and television announcements mounted by various agencies of government and non government organizations responsible for the campaign.

The Mothers who were visibly disappointed protested openly to the Health Workers who administered the immunisation exercise. The Health Workers who could not offered any explanation as to why the Nets were not given pleaded with the mothers to exercise patient as efforts would be made to supply them soon.

In their efforts to pacify the women protesters, the health workers according to our source, tore what they described as incsecticide treated bed nets’ vouchers and gave it to the women urging them to bring their children with the voucher to the centers and clinics for the Nets at appointed dates. The Voucher captioned, ‘One Free Net’ read, “The Federal Ministry of Health and Role Back Malaria Partners give you this voucher for the health of your children and family, one voucher = one free net one child under five years”

Speaking with our Correspondent under anonymity, some mothers lamented that their fears were predicated on the fact that similar gestures from the Federal Government or NGOs in the time past had been hijacked only for the items to be found in chemists.

Hear the Mothers, “Take for example, the Malaria Drug called ‘COARTEM’ is supposed to be free, but you will go the clinics, the staff there will sell it for us at various prices and you go to the chemists, they will sell it at the cost of N800-N1000 or more. This is our fear that we may end up not seeing the Mosquito Nets again”