Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Obasanjo/Atiku PTDF Recriminations – Breakdown of the “Chop I Chop” Code

There is often a code of silence amongst criminals. With the Mafia, it is “Omerta”, with the Yakuza, it is the “Jingi.” Usually, these codes of conduct hold these criminal organizations together and are essential for the achievement of their nefarious objectives. When members of these organizations run afoul of these codes, the repercussions are often dire; in some cases, fatal. With the Mafioso, it could range from slap-on-the-wrist measures such as demotion to a lower rank, to the more severe like gruesome torture or execution, depending on the severity of the transgression. The Japanese Yakuza, which operates much like the Italian Mafia, also has in addition to gruesome torture and execution, a punitive measure called “Yubitsume,” where the transgressor cuts off the tip of his pinky finger as an act of contrition.

Amongst Nigerian politicians (essentially gangsters in flowing robes), such a code of conduct exists – the “chop I chop” code. Like in the Mafia and Yakuza, every once in a while, this code of conduct breaks down. Atiku it seems broke this code when he challenged the third term bid of Obasanjo. His “Yubitsume” for this transgression was expulsion from the PDP and public humiliation for embezzlement (albeit it seems, a founded allegation). The sensational pronouncements of the Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, regarding his role in the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), and how the fund was administered attests to this breakdown of the ‘chop I chop” code. In a fashion reminiscent of the testimony of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, turncoat underboss of the notorious Gambino crime family of New York that saw the downfall of the Teflon Don, John Gotti, godfather of the Gambino crime family, Atiku sang like a bird to the ad-hoc senate committee.

His exposé revealed how the PTDF was used as a slush fund to reward party loyalists and fund various illicit business deals by the echelon of the PDP and their cronies. Particularly disturbing were his revelation of (a) payment of N250 million in spurious legal fees to the chambers of Afe Babalola for incorporation services of a company, Galaxy Backbone, allegedly floated by OBJ and cronies, (b) millions of naira in retainership fees still being paid to the chambers of the new National Security Adviser, Muktar, and (c) the quid pro quo transfer of funds, designated "loan" to the United Bank of Africa (UBA) in exchange for a personal loan of N200 million advanced to Obasanjo for the purchase of shares in Transcorp, on whose board the UBA Managing Director sits. Atiku however was conveniently silent on his complicity in the Globacom and IGate deals for which he is accused of embezzlement of PTDF monies to fund. If the VP's allegations are true, and chances are that a substantial part of it is true (Obasanjo himself has admitted to having held shares in Transcorp), then it is pertinent on the Senate Committee to set up an investigation to verify the claims of the VP and from there institute legal proceedings against Atiku, Obasanjo and anyone who is found to be involved, or is a beneficiary of the shameless illicit scheme, and that includes the Afe Babalola chambers, Galaxy Backbone, Globacom, UBA, ETB, TIB, IGate, Marine Float etc.

The chance that this will happen though is rather slim. Just as with the Yakuza, the Mafia and other criminal organizations, the downfall of an old cabal often presages the dawn of a new one. If however Nuhu Ribadu would borrow a leaf from Elliot Spitzer, the fearless New York state Attorney General (now Governor elect), who is credited with the downfall of the Gambino crime family, perhaps Nigeria would have a glimmer of hope.

3 comments:

imnakoya said...

If there is one thing I like about Atiku, that will be his guts. Give it to this guy, he's got it! He may be rotten, but he has shown he's by far a better master of the game of politics than OBJ. He has staying power. He has also shown that OBJ is dirty and very impartial.

Unfortunately, I don't see the Senate doing much about Atiku's allegations, which just as you mentioned, need to be investigated thoroughly.

The emergence of Yar A'dua as the PDP candidate and who is most likely to be the next president means this its likely we won't hear about this PTDF scam come 2007 (Atiku persecution or prosecution may continue though). Now this makes me, somehow, want to see Atiku in the presidential race, yes he is tanished, but it seems the man has learn't his lessions. And given the stress and shame he has gone, he may be a better candidate than this Yar'Adua/Jonathan combo. Besides, this will ensure that the sleazy deeds of OBJ and his cronies be revealed for all to see. But for Atiku to be given even the slightest reckoning, he needs someone of the caliber and integrity of Duke or Utomi to deputize him, and that all opposition parties back him up.

Yeah, this is a twisted way to think, but this is what the present powerplay in Nigeria calls for. The zillion parties hustling to field candidates only increases PDP chances. The oppostion must come together against the PDP if it must be defeated.

All the Senate needs to do is ensure Atiku is allowed to run on any party platform he chooses without further harassment from the presidency. After all, the court of law has ruled that he has no case to answer.

It is impartial to have OBJ go scot free while Atiku continues to face the music alone. Neither is it right to have a Sharia law enforcer be the president and be deputized by the spouse of a money launderer. This how I see it, twisted but fair.

Veracity said...

Imnakoya,

Thanks for your comment. There should be no reason why OBJ should accept a N200 million loan from UBA to buy Transcorp shares, at least this we know he has admitted to, and should be enough grounds for impeachment even if all the other allegations made by Atiku cannot be substantiated.

Atala Wala Wala said...

"If there is one thing I like about Atiku, that will be his guts."

Imnakoya, I'd say that someone has 'guts' if they were boldly and openly challenging someone who was more powerful than them - but Abubakar has done none of this. He's always been indirect and timid in his challenges against Obasanjo, even when it was obvious that Obasanjo had decided to frustrate his presidential ambition.

It's only now that his neck is on the line that he's come out openly with all these allegations against Obasanjo and the PDP - but I don't think his squealing will instigate the Senate to probe Obasanjo, because there's hardly any politician in Nigeria who isn't stained with the taint of corruption in one way or the other.

Having said that, I don't think it is right for Obasanjo to persecute him in this way - it makes him out as petty and small minded.