RE–MISSING N9 BILLION THIRD TERM MONEY TRACED TO ANDY UBA’S LAWYER By Dr. Wale Babalakin
As a Legal practitioner and a business man, I have a full appreciation of the important role the media plays in nation building. As the fourth estate charged with advocacy on important issues and holding those in positions of power and authority to account, journalists occupy a special position in every society. In a country like ours that has suffered years of dictatorships, inept and sometimes corrupt leadership and is now struggling to rebuild; their role is especially vital. By the same token however, I also know that shoddy journalism has the power to shred reputations and destroy lives. Hard facts not speculation or half truths should therefore be the bastion of all journalists. They owe that to their societies and to us their audiences. Factual accuracy and balance are not just words that journalists should bandy around in intellectual discuss, but must form the bedrock of all their work if they are to fulfill their moral obligation to the general public.
When journalism emanates from Nigerians in the Diasporas, especially from the United States, a place that has produced some of the most respected papers and journalists in the world; the assumption is; it will be top notch. I was therefore profoundly shocked when I saw the above captioned story prominently displayed on your esteemed website. The story is factually inaccurate, full of half-truths and un-substantiated allegations and appears to be a hatchet job sponsored by someone hell bent on attacking me for subjective reasons. What is so astounding about this article is that cursory research would have made it clear that the issues presented as fact are in fact fiction.
The story of how the new Murtala Mohammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2) was built is not shrouded in secrecy or that hard to investigate not least because over five major, well respected Nigerian financial institutions helped finance its construction.
Let me state here and now that Stabilini Visinoni Limited the Board of Directors of which I am Chairman never took a loan from Oceanic Bank for any project. Bi Courtney Limited has an account with the bank and at some stage during the construction of the terminal utilized overdraft facilities. Thirty two billion Naira was subsequently raised for the project by a syndicate of six banks, namely GT Bank, Zenith Bank, First Bank, Access Bank, First City Monument Bank and Oceanic Bank. Of this thirty two billion naira facility, Bi-Courtney utilized twenty billion naira; and of that only three billion came from Oceanic bank.
Clearly the author of this report does not believe mundane things such as facts should get in the way of maligning a hardworking man. He also sought to re-write history by stating that I was detained by the failed banks tribunal of the Late General Sani Abacha, somehow implying dubiousness in my character that makes it likely I would be involved in shady deals. Perhaps he felt this would give credibility to a story that was badly researched, short on facts but full of innuendos.
Here too basic research would have revealed that my grouse with the late dictator Abacha began when he along with some of his business associates became interested in a property in Ikoyi that I was developing as a hotel. When Abacha failed to intimidate me into giving up the rights to this property, the failed bank charge was trumped up to get me out of the way. Tempo Magazine’s edition of May 1995 reported on this issue thus” They sent soldiers to halt the Hyatt International Project in Ikoyi in which Dr. Wale Babalakin was involved. The action was meant to browbeat the developers to sell the project to the Chagouris…”
I have in my possession documents that prove there was no basis for my detention. If your writer had bothered to place a five minute telephone call to either a member of my staff or me, these documents would have been made available. It is precisely for this reason that I was never arraigned before a tribunal. The trumped up allegations never saw the light of the day. Subsequently NDIC wrote a letter stating that I had no criminal charges pending against me. I was later made a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and recently appointed as a member of the Body of Benchers. The Body of Benchers is responsible for the call to bar of legal practitioners and the discipline of the said legal practitioners. It may also interest you to know that our leased property in Ikoyi has been handed back to us and we are in the process of developing it.
As far as the issue of the former Managing Director of FAAN is concerned, his removal was entirely a decision of the Ministry of Transportation. While not privy to the decision process that saw the removal of Mallam Yusuf from the helm of FAAN affairs, as a stakeholder I am aware he had problems which ranged from labour issues with employees, failure to function efficiently to not fulfilling a statute requirement that states anyone heading this sector must be either an engineer or seasoned aviator. It is rather disingenuous that your writer did not speak to the people who affected this change before rushing to publish.
Nigeria is a country I truly love and believe in. It is for this reason I have continuously invested all I have here. My dream is for a nation that would stand tall, a colossus among nations taking its rightful place of leadership in Africa. Early on in my business career, I realized that infrastructure has been the bane of our nation. Accordingly, I set out to invest and work on infrastructure projects believing this is a sure way of affecting positive change in my beloved country. The MMA2 terminal now stands as testimony to this determination. May I remind you, that contrary to what you writer will have people believe, not a penny of government money either directly or indirectly went into the building of this terminal. As with all my projects, every kobo was sourced from the private sector.
I am doing things that have never been done in Nigeria, for this I fully expect to be scrutinized by everyone including the press. This is at par with the course. What I find disheartening especially because I am doing all I can to contribute my little quota to nation building is attacks on my person rooted in the grumblings of a man who lost his job and is looking for someone to blame. All I ask is that I be treated fairly, that the stories written about me and my business activities are based on facts not absolute fallacy and that I am given the chance to air my side of the story and defend my integrity. This I don’t think is too much to expect from a website that purports to be committed to ‘’ …the journalism ethical responsibility of balance reporting.’’