Bode George Blasts Obasanjo Over Buhari Criticism

A former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Bode George has taken a swipe on erstwhile president, Olusegun Obasanjo.

The PDP chieftain asked Obasanjo to shut up and stop playing to the gallery through public criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said, “Condemning Buhari is not the solution but we should advise and pray for him. I believe it is too early to condemn Buhari, may be after three years, we can ask him to present his scorecard.

“I don’t believe in the approach adopted by Baba (former President Olusegun Obasanjo). Why should Baba go public in his criticism of Buhari? Obasanjo has unlimited access to the President, even if he asks Buhari to come and see him at his farm in Ota.

“I believe Buhari would go there to see him and there he would have expressed his mind on the nation’s state of affairs to the President, after all he was Buhari’s former boss in the military. But for Obasanjo to have gone public to condemn Buhari’s policy to me is like a betrayal, it amounts to playing to the gallery.”

Speaking with Sun, George also urged factional National Chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff to accept reality, and stop any further act of prolonging the crisis rocking the party.

“Sheriff’s eyes should be open now. He has come to divine judgment. He and his followers should be remorseful and return to Makarfi’s mainstream PDP. Sheriff has been an embarrassment to PDP, he should stop further acts of rascality,” he declared.

Reps Reply Obasanjo, Call Him Grandfather Of Corruption

The House of Representatives on Thursday stated that a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, is the grandfather of corruption in the country, accusing him of introducing corruption to the National Assembly on its first working day in 1999.

The former President had while delivering a lecture at the first Akintola Williams Annual Lecture in Lagos on Wednesday had said the “National Assembly stinks and stinks to high heavens. It needs to be purged,” adding that the parliament operates a cabal “worse than any cabal that anybody may find anywhere in our national governance system at any time.”

But addressing journalists, the Chairman, House Committee on Media & Publicity, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas maintained that Obasanjo has no moral authority to discuss corruption, adding that he wants to bring down Buhari’s government and that he is “acting as lifetime opposition leader, blackmailer”.

In the words of Namdas, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo at a lecture he delivered recently, wherein, in his characteristic manner accused everybody but himself of corruption.

“He ventured to accuse the National Assembly of Budget padding, accused the House of criminal activities of threatening the life of a “whistleblower”, lampooned constituency projects which he approved as President, ventured to discuss the budget of National Assembly which is highly underfunded?

Namdas said the House would ordinarily not join issues with the former President as he has held an office that deserves respect and reverence.

“However, because of the material misstatement of facts, outright lies and falsehoods, and mischievous innuendo introduced in his statement, we are left with no option but to correct him.

“We have repeatedly maintained that there was no “padding” of the 2016 Appropriation Act, which is a legitimate document passed by the National Assembly, authenticated by the Clerk to the National Assembly as provided in the Acts Authentication Act and assented to by Mr. President. It is most unfortunate that a former President of Chief Obasanjo’s stature would allow himself to be hoodwinked and procured by a renegade member of the House, who embarked on massive propaganda and lies just because he was removed from office.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no crime that was committed by the National Assembly by exercising its constitutional function of appropriation. If Chief Obasanjo has an issue with the execution of the 2016 Budget or indeed other Appropriation Acts, he should direct his anger elsewhere.

“He claimed that the National Assembly Budget is very high, when by all standards, the National Assembly is grossly underfunded and is hampered from effectively and legitimately carrying out its constitutionally assigned functions. The National Assembly Budget funds a bureaucracy of about 5,000 civil servants. It has some other agencies under its preview such as the National Assembly Service Commission with its own staff of about 500; even the Public Complaints Commission is now a parastatal of the National Assembly.

“National Assembly Budget also funds the National Institute for Legislative Studies, which is a legislative think-tank and highly rated academic institution that serves both National and State Houses of Assembly and even international legislators. All these agencies also have their capital budget including development of their headquarters, procurement of office equipment, procurement of regular items for running their offices; the National Assembly maintain legislative aides of about 3,000 in number, that aid the work of the Assembly; it also conducts regular public hearings involving the media and stakeholders and oversight activities, involving huge sums of money.

“The cost implication of running the National Assembly is high because of the nature of our Presidential democracy. Then of course, there are 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives that require proper equipment to function effectively. They require adequate travel and transport support to carry out legislative functions. The National Assembly also has buildings and offices to build and maintain. National Assembly staff and members attend conferences, trainings, seminars to keep abreast of legislative developments worldwide. The activities are very encompassing and expensive.

“It is also unbecoming of a former President to quote figures of sums of money that are factually incorrect. No member of the House of Representatives receives N10m every month. The salaries and allowances of members of the House are as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). Of course further sums of money are spent as running costs, that is, the cost of running the office of a member.

“If a Minister, Chief Executive or Director in a Ministry travels on official duties, for instance, do you include the cost of his ticket and accommodation as part of his salary or allowances? Does the cost of stationeries and maintenance of equipment like computers used in their offices, form part of their salaries and allowances?

“These are some of the costs that must be taken care of by the National Assembly and the media calls these costs “jumbo pay”. For goodness sake, the National Assembly is an arm of government, not just an ordinary agency of government.”

Obasanjo Attacks Buhari, NASS

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo spoke yesterday on the state of the economy.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently fix things “because Nigerians are suffering”.

He also warned against taking the $29.9billion loan as proposed by the president.

He said the nation needed less borrowing if the government could invite the right experts in and out of the government to assist it to fix the economy.

The former President denounced the National Assembly as a cesspool of corruption and some of the lawmakers as “unarmed robbers” who are defrauding the nation through constituency projects and bogus allowances and failing to subject themselves to institutional control.

He hoped Buhari would have the courage to deal with the corruption in the legislature as he is probing the judiciary.

Obasanjo supported the trial of some judges, saying although some people might be opposed to the invasion of the homes of some of the judges,

“a drastic problem deserves a drastic solution, not minding the method”.

He also chided the military for the corruption which was exposed with the rot in arms procurement and the misappropriation of the defence budget in the face of the Boko Haram insurgency. The military, he said, should return to its old ways of doing things. “The procurement system has to be streamlined and taken back to what it used to be. The military is not a buyer of its own weapons, equipment, ammunition and materials.”

Obasanjo’s thoughts were expressed in a paper he presented at the First Akintola Williams Annual Lecture in Lagos. Williams is the doyen of accountancy.

He also criticised the idea of lumping together the three administrations of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – his own President Umaru Yar’Adua’s and President Goodluck Jonathan’s of the last 16 years and tarring them with the same brush.

Obasanjo indicated that his own administration stood out.

He said Nigerians were suffering and the government must be cautious in taking steps against a mass revolt, especially by the youths.

He said: “If we do not fix the economy to relieve the pain and anguish of many Nigerians, the gain in fighting insurgency and corruption will pale into insignificance. No administration can or should be comfortable with excruciating pain of debilitating and crushing economy.

“Businesses are closing, jobs are being lost and people are suffering. I know that President Buhari has always expressed concern for the plight of the common people but that concern must be translated to workable and result-oriented socio-economic policy and programme that will turn the economy round at the shortest time possible.

“We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect things to change. That will be a miracle which normally doesn’t happen in normal national economies.

“Economy requires a great element of trust to get it out of the doldrums, let alone out of negativity. That trust and confidence has to be created.”

Obasanjo said: “If corruption is continued to be fought courageously and relentlessly, there will be substantial recovery from within and from without, coupled with plugging the holes of wastes in Ministries, Departments, Educational Institutions and parastatals and we will need less borrowing, if we would need borrowing at all, to get us out of recession than we might have thought.

“ Of course, we must be ready to bite the bullet of spending less on luxuries and the unneeded and what we can do without and earning more on production, services and trading.

“I believe that going for a huge loan under any guise is inadvisable and it will amount to going the line of soft option, which will come to haunt us in future. We immediately need loans to stabilise our foreign reserve and embark on some infrastructure development but surely not $30 billion over a period of less than three years.

Obasanjo supported the ongoing clean-up of the Judiciary and the trial of some judges which he described as inevitable.

He said: “Three weeks before the first three judges were arrested for corruption, I was talking to a fairly senior retired public officer who put things this way, ‘The Judiciary is gone, the National Assembly is gone, the military is sunk and the civil service was gone before them; God save Nigeria’. I said a loud Amen. Three weeks later, the process of saving the Judiciary began.

“And if what I have gathered is anything to go by, there may be not less than two score of judicial officers that may have questions to answer. That will be salutary for the Judiciary and for the Nation.

“While one would not feel unconcerned for the method used, one should also ask if there was an alternative.

“ A drastic action was needed to save the situation, albeit one would have preferred an alternative that would serve the same purpose, if there was one. In the absence of that alternative, we must all thank God for giving the President the wisdom, courage and audacity for giving the security agencies the leeway to act. There is virtually no corrupt Judge without being aided by a member of the bar. The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has the responsibility to clean up its own house and help with the cleaning of the Judiciary.

On the National Assembly, Obasanjo said: “The National Assembly stinks and stinks to high heavens. It needs to be purged. With appropriate measures, the budget of the National Assembly can be brought down to less than 50% of what it is today. God will help Nigeria, but we must begin by helping ourselves.

“The National Assembly cabal of today is worse than any cabal that anybody may find anywhere in our national governance system at any time.

“Members of the National Assembly pay themselves allowances for staff and offices they do not have or maintain. Once you are a member, you are co-opted and your mouth is stuffed with rottenness and corruption that you cannot opt out as you go home with not less than N15 million a month for a Senator and N10 million a month for a member of the House of Representatives.

“The National Assembly is a den of corruption by a gang of unarmed robbers.

“Another means by which the National Assembly embarks on corruption spree is their so-called oversight responsibility. They instigate and collude with Ministries, Departments, Parastatals and Agencies to add to their budget outside what was submitted by the President with the purpose of sharing the addition or they threaten such units to reduce what was submitted by the President unless there is a promise of kickback.

“They can also set up a spurious committee to investigate a project while they call on the contractor to pay them or the executive officer in charge of the project to cough up money, otherwise they would write a bad report

“By our Constitution, the Revenue Mobilisation, Fiscal and Allocation Commission should be responsible for fixing the remunerations of the Executive and the Legislative arms of the government. Any salary, allowance or perquisite not recommended by the Commission should not be budgeted for; but crooks and crocked that most of the members of the National Assembly are, they will try to find other ways which must be blocked.

“In the past, they even instructed the Clerk of the National Assembly not to reveal to the Executive details of their remuneration. May God give the President the wisdom, courage and audacity to be able to do with the National Assembly what is being done with the Judiciary.

“We should not continue to live with the impunity and corruption of the National Assembly.

Obasanjo also advised the Federal Government to protect the whistle blower in the National Assembly, an apparent reference to a former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, who accused House Speaker Yakubu Dogara of “budget padding”. Jibrin is on suspension.

I Created 25 Nigerian Billionaires While President – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Saturday in Lagos that Folorunsho Alakija, Africa’s richest woman by Forbes reckoning, was among the 25 billionaires he made during his tenure as President.

Mr. Obasanjo stated this at the 2016 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum. The former president was reacting to an allegation by Mrs. Alakija at the event, that the Obasanjo administration frustrated her effort when she ventured into oil business.

Mrs. Alakija, who spoke before Mr. Obasanjo, alleged that his administration illegally took an oil block allocated to her company after her family had invested all its savings to strike oil in commercial quantity.

“This oil block is in 5000 feet depth of water and was extremely difficult to explore. “It took 15 years from the time that we were awarded the licence in 1993 till 2008 when we struck the first oil. “When this event happened, 60 per cent out of our 60 per cent equity in the business, was forcefully taken from us by the government of the day without due process. “We had to fight back by going to court to seek redress and it took another 12 years for justice to be served in our favour. “In all those years it was my trust in God, my perseverance and the support of my family that got me going,” she said.

She used her experiences to charge the 2000 budding entrepreneurs at the event to be dogged, determined and not to give up in the face of challenges.
When Mr. Obasanjo spoke, the former president seized the opportunity to reply to the allegation by Alakija.

“There is a saying in my part of the world that when a proverb touches you and you failed to reply, then you are a coward,” he said.

Mr. Obasanjo explained that the action of the government then was in line with the Mining Act, which regulates oil prospection and exploration.

“For you to come here and say that, for no cause whatsoever, you were denied what was rightfully yours, is not fair. “I do not know you from Adam and there is no reason I would have denied you what rightfully belonged to you. “So, you have struggled, and you have struck oil. God bless your heart. “My delight is to be able to create Nigerian billionaire and I always say it that my aim, when I was in government was to create 50 Nigerian billionaires. Unfortunately I failed. I created only 25 and Madam, you are one of them,” he said.

Mr. Obasanjo hailed the vision of Tony Elumelu for helping to build African young entrepreneurs with his resources.

He also urged the government to create conducive environment for people to move businesses into the country. The former president urged government to relax its visa policy and company registration process to encourage investors.

He said the government should create certification centres in the country for easy exportation of agro processed products.

The President of Sierra Leone, Bai Koroma, noted that what transpired between Mr. Obasanjo and Mrs. Alakija was part of the challenges and difficulties that leaders lived with in the discharge of their duties.

With limited resources competing for unlimited demands and expectations from the people, leaders were seen to be larger than life, he said.
Mr. Koroma also commended Mr. Elumelu for his project for African young entrepreneurs adding that his vision resonated with a new Africa development agenda.
(NAN)

Obasanjo Slams Governors For Incapacitating LGAs

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the governors remain the “greatest obstacles” to having a virile and functional local governments in the country.

He said this on Tuesday during an interactive session shortly after delivering his keynote address at the maiden International Conference on Politics, Security and Development held at the Babcock University, Ilisan-Remo, Ogun State.

The conference with the theme, “Forty years of Local Government Reforms and Democratic Development in Nigeria: Critical Perspectives,” was convened by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Veronica Adeleke School of Social Sciences, Babcock University.

It was chaired by a former Managing Director of Nigeria Airways, Alhaji Jani Ibrahim.

Obasanjo alleged that the state governors “steal” council funds under the pretext that they have done something for the councils or on their behalf.

According to him, as soon as the Local Government Allocations were released from the federation account, the state governments simply deduct from the source, whatever amount they claimed were spent on behalf of the local governments.

Obasanjo, who recalled that he initiated the local government reforms in 1976 to make the LGs autonomous, functional and developmental, lamented that once such money was illegally deducted by governors, no LG chairman dare questioned or challenged such an illegality.

Reading from his keynote address, the former President said good leadership at the state and the local government levels with integrity, dedication and lack of corruption was what could make local governments work to achieve their purpose for the people.

He said, “An effective, efficient and performing local governments system and operation will enhance the delivery of dividends of democracy and governance in Nigeria.

“Not allowing local governments to work and stealing their funds from source by states is one of the greatest disservices of all political parties in the present dispensation of our democratic experiment.

“In fact, experiences in many states of the federation have shown that local government administrations have become the most constitutionally-abused matter in the country since the 1999 Constitution became operational. Only a handful of states had held local governments’ election.

“Others have carried on as if it is legal to run local governments without the constitution that created them.

“Most state governors floated the idea of appointing transition committees comprising of their surrogates to oversee the affairs of the councils. The trend, sadly, has been maintained in some states till now.

“In others where the polls had been conducted, the governors, in connivance with corrupt electoral officials subservient to the governors and the ruling party committed malpractices which make a mockery of the process.”

The Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government, Adeoluwa Taiwo, at the event, said his administration recognised the constitutional provision of the local government which informed why it had conducted council elections twice in 2012 and 2016.

He also said contrary to the allegations that state governors in Nigeria routinely tampered with the councils’ funds, his administration had never dipped its hand into the local governments’ purses.

In the contrary, he said, he had always come to the aid of the councils augmenting their funds so they could meet their financial obligations.

The Vice-Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof. Ademola Tayo, said the relevance of the local governments in the country had been eroded.

Akiolu Blames Obasanjo For Rejection Of Special Status For Lagos

The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, has lamented the rejection of a bill seeking special status for Lagos State by the Senate, adding that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was the reason the state has not been granted a special status.

The Senate had last week rejected a bill sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu to grant Lagos a special status

Akiolu, who spoke on Tuesday at the ‘2016 3rd Quarter Town Hall Meeting’, held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, explained that Obasanjo had the opportunity to grant Lagos the special status during his eight-year tenure, but never did it in spite of the pressure mounted on him.

Akiolu said, “Obasanjo is the reason Lagos has not got a special status. I personally led eminent Lagosians to meet him during his tenure to ask for a special status for Lagos. Obasanjo told me and others that he had already drafted the special status plan for Lagos, but the former president never fulfilled that promise. If he had done it then, the issue of its rejection by the Senate would not arise.

“Had late Umaru Yar’Ardua been alive, he would have got Lagos a special status. Yar’Ardua promised to get Lagos a special status. If Yar’Ardua had not died, he would have fulfilled that promise.”

The monarch, however, expressed optimism that Lagos would still be accorded a special status in the nearest future.

The monarch urged the promoters of the bill to go back to the drawing board and represent the bill.

Akiolu also expressed worry over the spate of kidnapping in Lagos despite the efforts of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to beef up security.

He called for the establishment of a committee to work with the police to stop kidnapping.

Also speaking, a House of Representatives member, Jide Jomoh, said what Senator Tinubu asked was one per cent economic assistance from the federation account to Lagos, adding that the issue would not die.

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Tajudeen Olusi, added that a special status for Lagos was necessary.

Ambode said the success of the bill was in the interest of Nigerians.

Obasanjo Visits Buhari, Keeps Mum

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met behind closed doors with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The meeting, which was held inside the President’s office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja lasted less than one hour.

Obasanjo was accompanied on the visit by one of his daughters and a male aide.

They, however, did not join the two leaders at the meeting which was described as a private one.

The former President did not speak to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.

On sighting the reporters as he emerged from the President’s office, Obasanjo held his lips as his aide and a security agent made way for him into his car.

As journalists were asking him the purpose of his visit and to comment on the recent arrest of judges by the officials of the Department of State Services, the former President kept his lips sealed with his fingers.

We’ve Not Reached Promiseland At 56 – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has lamented the stunted and impaired development of Nigeria, 56 years after attaining a state nationhood.

Obasanjo said Nigeria is not yet where it ought to be at 56 but expressed the hope that the sundry challenges bogging the country down would be surmounted.

He spoke on Saturday during a lecture organised by the Youth Fellowship of the Owu Baptist Church, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, as part of the church’s activities to mark Nigeria’s Independence anniversary.

The elder stateman said leaders and followers, should “accept responsibility” for the fate of the country and “stop passing the bulk.”

“Our development is impaired, it is not what it ought to be but we must get it right. We must all accept responsibility, we must stop passing the bulk.”

Delivering his lecture on the topic: “Nigeria Development for Nigerians by Nigerians,” he declared that the development of the country must not be left with Nigerians alone but should also include foreign investors and friends of Nigeria.

According to him, those interested in assisting the country in its developmental efforts must also be encouraged to help it.

Obasanjo identified unemployment of educated Nigerians as one of the major factors threatening the peace of the country.

He also identified peace and security, education, food, sanitation, shelter as well as transportation as some of the ingredients for measuring development.

The former Chairman, Board of Trustess of the PDP recalled that when he completed his secondary school education at the Baptist Boys High School (BBHS), Abeokuta, he was offered jobs by five different establishments, including the United Africa Company (UAC) and Moore Plantation, Ibadan but lamented that a different situation prevailed today in Nigeria.

He also recalled during an interractive session how the famous industrialist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, few years ago, told him that six PHD holders were among applicants who applied to become truck drivers in his company due to the unemployment situation in the country.

“Unemployment is a major problem in the country today and if we don’t take care, it will consume all of us, in fact, the rising unemployment is a time bomb.”

“The high rate of unemployment is responsible for youth restiveness in the country. The situation should be tackled with all the seriousness it deserves before it get out of hand.
“There is no other way we can develop except, engaging in agriculture business, it is the only business that can generate the number of employment we need.

“That is why we have to take it (Agriculture business) as a key of our development else the many educated Nigerians who have no job are like time bomb, sooner than later, it will explode,” Obasanjo said.

Obasanjo challenged the church to pay attention to both the spiritual as well as the physical well being of their congregations.

He noted that the church’s attention appeared to be focused only on the spiritual aspect of the congregations, explaining that he had seen the recession buffetting the country two yeas ago following the recklessness of the immediate past administration regarding the country’s resources.

He said his warnings and advice were largely ignored but concluded, Nigerians “cannot continue lamenting.

Obasanjo Supports Proposal Of Sale Of Assets To Raise Funds, Advises Transparency

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday stressed the need for Nigeria to borrow, spend less and earn more to get out of the current economic recession.
Obasanjo said this in Abeokuta at the opening ceremony of the National Council On Finance and Economic Development Conference (NACOFED).

The theme of the conference is “Enhancing Revenue Generation and Obtaining Best Value for Money in Expenditure”.

According to Obasanjo, the major problem with Nigeria is that “we are spending more than we are earning and we have not been able to save for the rainy day”.

He, however, proffered a three-fold solution of borrowing, spending less and earning more to the economic challenges of the nation.

Obasanjo, who said that funds were available outside the country, advised that Nigeria needed to approach its allies who could lend to the country on reasonable terms.

He warned, however, that no such nation would part with its funds without observing that Nigeria was taking practical steps to come out of its challenges.

The former president said that Nigeria must encourage production to earn more and increase its revenue.

He said since the nation was not in control of oil, it should therefore diversify and concentrate on the things it could control.

Obasanjo, who stressed the need to develop agriculture, frowned at policies which tended to turn the nation into a dumping ground for other countries’ products.

“I was shocked when the ban on importation of toothpick which we imposed in 1977 was lifted four years ago.

“How can a nation seeking to rank among the best in the world continue like that?

“We must begin to do away with things that we can do without and if we must import them, let them attract very high duties,” he said.

Obasanjo who backed the call for the sale of some national assets to raise money, described such act as natural.

The former president said port authorities and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were part of assets that Nigeria could partly sell to generate fund.

“I do not see why 49 per cent of NNPC cannot be privatised.

“I think the problem is in the coinage “selling of asset” as if we want to throw out our inheritance.

“What we are actually doing by that is simply re-organising.

“It should however be done transparently and let it actually go public and not to cabals, relations and friends.

“This is always the fear of Nigerians when issues like this arise,” he said.

Obasanjo expressed confidence in the ability of the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, saying that ” she is doing a marvelous job in a difficult situation and that only time can prove her right”.

Adeosun, who spoke earlier, said that the Federal Government had till date invested over N700 billion to stimulate growth in the economy.

“We are working on an economic model that will change Nigeria from being consumption focused to investment focused,” she said.

Obasanjo, yesterday, spoke of how a letter by an academic helped him tackle payment of workers’ pension during his presidency.

Obasanjo Dismisses Reports Of His PDP Return

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday dismissed his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as divided, factionalised and gasping for breath.

Obasanjo, seemingly annoyed by media reports that he was sighted at a PDP event at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja at the weekend, said the reports were aimed at scoring “cheap political gains.”
The former president sensationally tore his membership card of the party ahead of the 2015 elections, saying he was through with party politics.

The PDP went on to lose that year’s presidential elections and its control of the majority of the 36 states.
The former president said having announced his exit from partisan politics publicly, it is unthinkable and preposterous for anybody to contemplate that he would reverse himself and return to a comatose PDP.

The ex – Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of PDP made this known to reporters in Abeokuta, yesterday, in a statement. He said he was at the Yar’Adua Centre as a guest of the Commodities Association Stakeholders which had no relationship with the PDP.

His words: “Those who know me, know that I have publicly announced my quitting partisan politics and those who will believe the purported story will believe anybody who tells him that his or her mother is not a woman.
“If I quit a party when it was alive and seemingly united, how could I go back to a now divided, factionalised party gasping for breath?”

His office followed up with another statement, saying: “While ordinarily his first reaction to the news was that those behind it targeted to get him annoyed and embarrassed him, his conclusion was that he has told the world that he has quit partisan politics and that is final. Anybody hoping to drag him back will fail like any man feeding mice to a dead cat.

“To clear the minds of doubting Thomases and those behind the orchestrated news in circulation and particularly those who had been calling to ascertain what actually happened at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre, on the invitation of the Commodities Association Stakeholders, His Excellency was invited to the “Zero Hunger Nigeria” event at the Centre’, the statement said.

“He arrived at about 10.00am and immediately moved to the meeting. The meeting commenced but few minutes into the session, his attention was drawn to the presence of some people walking up to where he was seated.
“At closer glance, he recognised them to be politicians and they exchanged pleasantries, saying they came to greet him and they walked out again from the meeting. The former president cracked jokes with them calling them “invaders and gate crashers”.

It said as soon as the programme ended Obasanjo and his entourage headed back to Lagos.
He said he was barely hours in Lagos when he started receiving calls from far and near wanting to find out about his presence at a political party programme in Abuja.

The statement added, “The photo news in circulation, which claimed that he was spotted at a political party event is therefore mischievous, and a responsible journalist ought to have gone further to ascertain his actual destination. Shocking also to note that the picture was actually taken while on his way out of the centre after the programme he had attended had finished.”

I Regret Not Privatizing NNPC – Obasanjo

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, said he regretted not privatising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, during his eight years in office.

The former president, while speaking in Lagos yesterday at the opening of a two-day maritime conference, said the Federal Government should allow the organised private sector play a critical role in repositioning the nation’s moribund assets and infrastructure.

Obasanjo said past experience in Nigeria has shown that the private sector will always make a meaningfully contribution to the sustainable growth and development of the nation when given the opportunity.

While pointing out that the organised private sector had aided and stabilized the nation’s telecommunications industry by creating jobs and paying money to the government on a sustainable basis, he regretted not privatising the NNPC.

He said, “NNPC is supposed to be doing well like Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).

“The involvement of the private sector will ensure growth.”

Obasanjo noted that NLNG is doing well because of the involvement of the private sector.

He said, “The NLNG is making money for the government because of the involvement of the private sector.”

Obasanjo added that Nigeria’s maritime sector had not made much impact because of lack of transparency.

He said, “A General once left this country with two ships. He later came back with no accountability.

“That cannot happen in the private sector.”

Obasanjo, who was chairman of the event tagged “Building a sustainable maritime industry in Nigeria,” noted that corruption was one of the factors hindering growth and development of the nation.

He further disclosed that he met five ships while he took over as head of state and later bought 19 more before leaving office in 1979, but added that, “20 years after and in 1999, there was no ship left.”

He said while one of the ships was sold as a scrap for $500,000, “government later bought the same ship for $2 million. It was repaired for $1million.

“It was later seized for not being sea worthy, I was informed. We were asked to pay $2 million.

“I told them to keep the ship. It was later released (without any payment).”

Obasanjo said over 90 per cent of global trade is carried out via the sea, noting that “this underscores the fact that a sustainable maritime industry has direct impact on the economy of the nation and also determines the competitiveness of its export.”

He said, “The private sector should be encouraged to take the driving seat in the development architecture of the Nigerian maritime industry.

“Hopefully, this will bring about the desired efficiency in the management of the project and sustained funding.

“Nigeria should look beyond its national maritime sector as an economic hub for the country but should by now be consolidating its position as the regional and global force in the maritime domain,” he said.