Date Published: 03/26/10
Ag. President Jonathan And His Asset Declaration Albatross
By: Timi Ogiri Ebitare
There was a flurry of rejoinders on the article titled “ Acting President Jonathan Lied in Asset Declaration” Those who wrote these rejoinders might have descended from outer space or they have not been in Yenagoa foe the past ten years. Here, I just want to highlight a few cases of graft either committed by the Ag. President, his wife or cronies before replicating the earlier article so that those who have not read the article will understand why this writer is protesting.
Those who are paid to write rejoinders rather than tell the truth should also tell the public about:
- The Many buildings owned by the Ag. President in Yenagoa which were not included in his assets declaration.
- The N8 billion gas turbine project, which was used to hoodwink Bayelans to believe that 2 new digital gas turbines were procured
- How the Aruera Foundation was used by Mrs. Patience Jonathan to siphon about N3 billion Naira. Up till now, the Aurera Foundation is used as a conduit-pipe to collect money from oil companies and other corporate bodies even though there is no tangible achievement to justify the monies collected.
- Mrs. Patience Jonathan has amassed stupendous wealth in terms of real estate in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos, using the influence of her husband.
- Mrs. Patience Jonathan coveted more that 10 speedboats meant for distribution to the people under the poverty alleviation programme.
- The wife of Ag. President Jonathan also diverted more than a dozen Busses earmarked for distribution under the poverty alleviation scheme, and even tomato sellers in the Streets of Yenagoa know the self-aggrandizing nature of the woman.
- Wife of the Acting President Mrs. Patience Jonathan awarded a contract of planting flowers in the Mbiama Yenagoa road at a whopping sum of N500 million. First, from all indications the value of the contract was over inflated and awarded to one of her cronies Mrs. Megan Bozimo. Secondly, the flower planting contract did not follow due process, as there were no tenders, bids and other procedures stipulated in the “Due Process Rule” or the Public Procurement Bill. Where are those flowers now? She wasted Bayelsa money and the media would not report sensitive issues like this.
- As Governor of Bayelsa State Dr. Goodluck Jonathan awarded the contract of clearing the Nembe Brass Road to a serving Senator one Chief Barigha Amange at a whopping sum of N530 million. We were reliably informed that apart from the contract sum being paid up front, the job was shoddily done due largely to the fact that there was neither survey nor soil test. A Chief from the Nembe Community also informed us that prior to the award of the said contract the Nembe Chiefs Council had protested to Dr. Jonathan never to award the contract to the suspended Chief Amange because he was already from the community and was bent on destabilizing the community. But the Acting President did not heed the advise this contract and the mode of its award did not follow due process as it was compensatory, essentially to enable the beneficiary raise money for electioneering campaigns.
- The Acting President could allow his wife Mrs. Patience Jonathan to hijack the Poverty Alleviation Programme put in place by the Government. We have it on good authority that Mrs. Jonathan took possession of three 3 No. speedboats, which were supposed to be given to Bayelsans as loans. In addition, she took possession of 2 cold stores. I at Swali Yenagoa and the others at Twon-Brass. What baffles this writer is that a woman who enjoys the office of first lady could stoop so low as to expropriate the resources meant for alleviating the poverty of the less- privileged. All these and other shady deals were not part of the asset declaration. I expect those paid agents to write a rejoinder to enable me improve on the list of sharp practices engaged in by the Acting President, his wife and those of his cronies.
Below, the first article alleging that Dr, Goodluck Jonathan lied in asset declaration is reproduced.
The article Proper
This memo seeks to achieve three objectives. First is to demonstrate that most public office holders in Nigeria commit perjury-that is lying under oath. Secondly, the article aims to show that the Acting President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan also lied in declaring his assets, which in the laws governing the Code of Conduct, is a punishable offence. Thirdly, the write-up intends to mention some of the undeclared assets of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan- a fact known by many Nigerians but , which have been downplayed because of his humility. Dear progressive Nigerians, when the duo of ailing Umaru Musa Yar’Adua took office on May 29, 2007, as President and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, respectively, they swore to uphold the constitution and rule of law. Accordingly, President Yar’Adua demonstrated that resolve by the public declaration of his assets and liabilities. This was quite unlike that of the Acting President Dr. Goodluck, Jonathan who was pressured by public opinion and the media to declare his assets in a manner calculated to deceive Nigerians and well-orchestrated to hide the truth from Nigerians.
Not long after the Acting President declared his assets, some media organizations condemned the way and manner the exercise was carried out. The first signs of deceit emerged on Saturday, August 11, 2007 when some overzealous operatives of the State Security Service (SSS). SSS officers, obviously acting on the orders of the Dr Jonathan launched a vicious attack on Spynet magazine and tore through lockers, files and computers belonging to the media outfit. It was an irony that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who the media made from the shadows of his erstwhile boss, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, could be part of a plot to antagonize the press. But that was not his first attempt censoring the press. As Governor, he launched a major assault against Izon Link, a local tabloid which was supposedly sponsored by Timi Alaibe. “This assault on press was perceived to be an attempt by the Acting President to cover the truth”, the Spynet reported. Those harassed at SPYNET include Richard Ogbage, Godsidi, Frank and others. These people are still alive to testify.
It should be noted that in the maiden edition of the Spynet Magazine the lead story titled; “The Face of a Fraud?”, “detailed how the Acting President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former Bayelsa State Governor, mismanaged the State as Chief Executive. The story however did not go down well with Jonathan and his Committee of Friends especially Chief A.J.Turner. What followed was a well-planned invasion of the magazine and the unlawful arrest of the staffers of the media outfit. Although the mater is now in court, Spynet are still counting their loses. This action portrayed him as an enemy of the mass media
The second event that prompted the investigation of the assets of the Acting President was the October 21st edition of The Sunday Sun, where one Mr. Collins Eselemo – Grand Patron of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and President General of the Coastal Mandate – a coalition of socio-cultural groups in the Niger Delta Region raised some issues questioning the integrity of the Acting President. The Coalition leader claimed that “the Acting President lied in his declaration of assets and threatened that he would incur the wrath of the Ijaw Youth Council if he does not open up”. Prince Eselemo also threatened to provide a comprehensive list of the property of the Acting President and to prepare a show down with him. Ijaw Leaders prevailed on him not to wash the dirty linen of their kinsmen.
Dear Progressive Nigerians, asset declaration for a highly placed person like the Acting President is like swearing an affidavit and if the process is falsified, it can be likened to perjury – which is a criminal offence. From the perspective of the constitution as per section 172 of the 1999 constitution” A person in the public service of the Federation shall observe and conform to the code of conduct” Further, Section 140 (1) states that “A person elected to the office of President (including the Acting President) shall not begin to perform the functions of that office until he has declared his assets and liabilities as prescribed in this constitution and he has taken and subscribed to the oath of allegiance and the oath of office prescribed in the seventh schedule of this constitution”. Further, asset declaration is not just an indispensable ritual but a mechanism for sanctioning public office holders who acquire wealth through fraudulent means while in office. Since public servants spend public money, asset declaration is more of a moral responsibility than a constitutional obligation.
In another bizarre twist, when Chief Timipre Sylva assumed office as Governor of Bayelsa State, there were wide spread speculations that the Bayelsa State was heavily indebted. Although Governor Sylva in a press briefing cleared the air by saying that his predecessor did not leave behind any debts, there are now discordant reports to that effect. Such indications emerged clearly at a recently concluded Budget Retreat organized by the Government of Bayelsa State where the Commissioner of Finance & Budget stated in unambiguous terms that the State has been reeling under a debt of more than N28 billion. If this assertion is true the question then arises: Was the debt inherited from the Goodluck Jonathan administration? Certainly yes, but Sylva was too loyal to expose his predecessor. Is that revelation so grievous as to prompt the harassment of the Timipre Sylva administration? Is that what should prompt the spurious allegations that Governor Sylva voted N500million to stop Jonathan from becoming Acting President? My Dear Progressive Nigerians would certainly decode the political undercurrent behind the action of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
As a man who could vouch for the integrity of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, I regarded his critics as detractors, who envied his rising political profile. I therefore took on the challenge of conducting an independent investigation. Sadly, however, the investigating showed that Dr. Jonathan could not really stand on a moral high ground to uphold the rule of law or the Constitution for that matter.
The results of our investigations are startling but some of them are still inconclusive because the investigator could not have access to certain vital documents. The Acting President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has much more property and assets that were not declared. Our informant who preferred anonymity said that the most annoying project that served as a drainpipe in the Jonathan administration was the Gas Turbine project awarded to an indigenous company owned by an Ogbia Woman. The initial contract value was N4 billion Naira but the sum was later reviewed upwards to N8 billion. Two things were wrong with the contract. First, the award did not follow Due Process. Secondly, rather than buy new turbines, the contractor merely refurbished the broken parts of the old turbine. Experts estimated that not up to N1 billion was spent while the other N7billion went into the pockets of the two parties.
Again, one Moses Otazi who served as Dr. Goodluck’s Chief of Staff is believed to have stolen about N150 million from Government House and hid the money at Ewoi his wife’s village. It was reported that thieves broke into the house and made away with the money. A young man from Otuoke who works with the Ministry of Health confirmed the incident and said some of the suspects were even arrested, but when the incident got to the ears of the Acting President, he promptly intervened and ordered that the matter be settled at the Village level rather than give him negative publicity. Our chat with an operative of the SSS at Yenagoa yielded no tangible results as the plain clothed officer was evasive and not prepared to mention details. He however confirmed that such an incident was reported. The said Otazi is believed to be one of the principal beneficiaries of the loots in Creek Haven during the Jonathan administration. Because of the unscrupulous manner Moses Otazi handled the matter, the Acting President refused to take him along to Abuja.
The Jonathan administration also huge sums of money for non-existent rice farms. One of such farms is said to have been at Elebele estimated at N300 million. Beyond that the Acting President owns three multi-million Naira hotels. One of them is adjacent to Chief. DSP Alamieyeseigha’s residence in Yenagoa. Another gigantic hotel owned by the Acting President is situated after Commissioner’s quarters along Elebele Road near AIT office in Yenagoa. There are unconfirmed reports too that the Acting President owns a building estimated at N1 billion at Victoria Island, Lagos. The aforementioned property were not declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau as Assets owned by the man. This is in addition to the massive Otueke Hotel owned by Dame Patience Jonathan.
Dear progressive Nigerians, it is also a true that the Acting President has demonstrated some quotient of leadership, humility and as a loyal party man. I particularly envy his humility and consider it an advantage that is likely to boost his political profile even before he became Acting President. But it does appear that the Acting President humility to cover-up skeletons in his cupboard. If all these choice property are owned by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan - the Acting President of Nigeria, then he was more than N30 billion Naira richer than he had earlier declared. I do not intend to begrudge his wealth because his humble disposition.
Dear, progressive Nigerians, I acknowledge the fact that the Acting - President wears the veil of immunity, such allegations if not clarified with cast doubts as to government’s intention to wage a total war against corruption. This is one of the reasons crusade against corruption and the drive to entrench transparency and accountability is very difficult. The battle has to start from the Presidency down to the Local Government Chairmen.
I made mentioned the Anyiam Osigwe’s and their dirty dealings in Bayelsa State during the time of Goodluck Jonathan. Are you surprised that one Anyiam Osigwe made the list of the Presidential committee of which T.Y Danjuma is head? People at the top echelon of power and authority must tell Nigerians the truth so we can collectively pursue the rule of law and entrench sustainable justice in the land. Dear progressive Nigerians, the aim of this article would have been achieved if the Acting President declares his assets now and compel all the new Ministers to do so. The Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should ensure that he who must come to equity.
N/B: I am waiting eagerly for a rebuttal.
Timi Ogiri Ebitare