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Lawan-Otedola bribery saga:A diversionary gimmick.. By Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe

Because of the manner by which the oil subsidy probe came into being, the people of Nigeria should never allow the report and recommendations of Federal House of Representatives’ Committee on the issue to be forgotten in the midst of the cacophony over the manipulated Lawan-Otedola bribe scandal.

The House of Representatives, as well as the Police, the State Security Service, SSS, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, should consider the three-million dollar bribe joke as a completely different development that ought not impinge on the execution of the recommendations of the House Probe on the oil subsidy, whose ill advised withdrawal on January 1, 2012, brought our dear country to the precipice.

Already, we seem to have forgotten most of the promises of goodies that were freely made by the Federal Government as the heat of the people’s anger increased by the day.

Where are the buses that were said to have been ordered to “cushion the effects” of the immediate consequences of the subsidy withdrawal on workers who, we were told, would be driven from their homes to their places of employment and back.

Where are our great labour leaders? Where is the committee, headed by Dr. Christopher Kolade, that was to oversee the disbursement of the savings from the subsidy removal.

The Nigeria media, always wallowing in screaming headlines over uncovered scams by the men in power, soon forget that the joy of journalism lies in follow-up stories, the type that gave us the “watergate” scenario a typical example of investigative reporting.

How many of the more serious media houses have bothered to put a selection of staffers on the trail of any major national scandal to ensure that (ii) is not swept aside?

It isn’t just enough to inform and entertain readers, viewers and listeners for the moment. It is equally important to constantly keep in the limelight, developments, from the investigating team or tribunal, to the police and to the courts, that have captured the attention of the public. The Elumelu power probe is one of them. The N55 million bribe of legislators by a former Minister of Education that elicited a dawn broadcast by a former President is another “big issue” that the media allowed to die unceremoniously.

The current oil subsidy payments saga is one sleaze too many which should be pursued to its “logical end.”

The logical end can be nothing less than the formal prosecution of all indicted individuals as well as oil and non-oil companies that received sums of money for deliveries of petrol that were not made.

Let the thieves go and tell the judges that the monies found in their bank accounts were meant for the last elections and that they were merely conduits used to siphon the national treasury.

It will then be at the discretion of the courts to determine what to do with them.

But for now, our media should, if possible, design a platform and place a senior editor in-charge, to regularly update Nigerians on every stage of this subsidy brouhaha.

Where, for instance, are the Lawan Farouk subsidy report and recommendations now?

Are they with the Attorney General’s Office? If yes, what next?

We depend on the press to tell us.

Enquiries should be made regularly until the matter goes to court.

If a responsible editor or an experienced reporter is given the assignment of seeing to the progress of the report and the eventual recommendations of the Attorney-General, then the media house can go ahead with its headline-catching stories like the tragi-comic bribe scandal involving “Mr integrity” Lawan Farouk and the “quintessential business baron” Femi Otedola.

For starters, is it true that Femi Otedola, who says his company did not import petrol, but rather diesel, went ahead to be pressured to offer bribe on non-diesel import affair?

Wouldn’t it have been the easiest of blackmails to ignore?

Did Otedola think he was talking sense? The issue was that even companies and individuals who know next to nothing about the oil business, actually had billions of Naira oil subsidy “refund” lodged in their bank accounts.

So what specious nonsense does Otedola mean by the alibi that he dealt only on diesel which is not benefiting from any subsidy?

Does that answer the question as to whether or not his Conoil Company received petrol subsidy when no petrol was imported or delivered?

If Otedola had succumbed to Farouk’s pressure, why didn’t he pass his own marked money to the police to “countermark” before inviting the foolish Farouk to the trap?

As things stand now, Farouk was merely a pathetic victim of a conspiracy between the Security Services and Femi Otedola.

The money given to Farouk does not belong to Otedola. All agree that it was marked money belonging to the SSS.

And to think of Farouk, accepting a three-million dollar bribe promise and only receiving a mere 620,000 out of it, 21 percent, and went ahead to execute his side of the bargain, portrays him as an amateur in the

business.

He deserves more to be pitied than derided.

He is a sorry specimen of Nigeria’s bribe choppers!

The poor man is being denied, right, left and centre by those he claims to have put in the picture about his reverse “sting” operation.

But isn’tit isn’t it funny that security snoopers let an easy prey go away with all the incriminating exhibit intact. And after more than a month, they now want him to disgorge his loot to perfect the act of his prosecution. If you were in the shoes of Farouk, would you cooperate?

Lawan says he has the full story ;iup his sleeves” and would tell all at his own determined time. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt while the police can go ahead and prosecute Otedola who has confessed to offering bribe and actually has a video tape to prove his offence.

While that drama plays out, let’s not be diverted from the real issue of the massive sleaze over the fuel subsidy.

For once, set us get to the bottom of this one scandal that has turned out the “mother of all scandals.”

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