Editor’s note: President Muhammadu Buhari has reaffirmed his commitment to pursue his anti – corruption war which was one of his key campaign promises in the weeks leading to the 2015 presidential election. He has assured Nigerians that soon, those who have stolen the national wealth will be in court and that Nigerians will know those who have short – changed them. This article focuses on 3 Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who stand the risk of being probed by Buhari.
The anti – corruption war of President Buhari has received a backlash from pundits who have accused the president of using his fight against corruption as a prelude to persecute former president, Goodluck Jonathan, his erstwhile ministers, and other political opponents.
Faulting the stance of the president, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah, who is a member of the National Peace Committee has accused the present administration of heating up the polity under the guise of fighting corruption.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned the president not to use security agents to intimidate and harass members of the opposition political parties. The party has also called on Buhari to beam his search light on those in his party, the APC, who are perceived to be corrupt. This article focuses on 3 APC chieftains alleged by members of the opposition to have engaged in graft.
Babatunde Raji Fashola
It hasn’t been the best of times for former Lagos state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, in recent weeks, the erstwhile two time governor of the centre of excellence has come under fire from Nigerians for spending the sum of N78.3m on the upgrade of his website, www.tundefashola.com, while he was still in office.
As if that is not enough, Nigerians were shell shocked to find out that Fashola also spent the whopping sum of N139m on the drilling of two boreholes at the Lagos House, Ikeja. Drawing wide spread criticism from the populist.
Other contracts that have put Fashola in the spotlight include N640m spent on the reconstruction of a car park and other associated works at the Lagos House, Marina, N300m on the relocation of cables belonging to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, N175m to replace the railings of a pedestrian bridge on Carter Bridge from Ido to Idumota with concrete railings among others.
Fashola who was widely seen as one of few upright politicians, and a likely ministerial nominee of President Buhari is now facing calls for probe by members of the opposition who have accused him of “recklessness misappropriation of funds over the website scandal and award of other contracts executed by the former Lagos state governor during his tenure.
In a Punch report dated August 20, 2015, a former National Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George, alleged that many of the projects undertaken during the Fashola administration were done at exorbitant prices.
“We knew all along that the emperor had no clothes. Using N78m of taxpayers’ money to build a website is reckless misappropriation. The phony over N29bn used to build a mere kilometre long link bridge is outrageous venality, he said.
“The spurious N1.5bn allegedly spent on phantom pedestrian bridges is another con game. And there are so many of these screaming illegalities observable in the record of our poster boy of yesterday!”
The likelihood of Fashola facing a probe is also heightened by the huge debt burden of N419.2 billion left by his administration, for his successor, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The opposition claims that in saner climes, Fashola would be facing a comprehensive investigation rather than being considered for any appointment at all.
The weight of allegations against Fashola has suddenly thrown doubts on a once vibrant and flourishing political career. Fashola is now standing on shaky grounds due to the many allegations levelled against him. Besides losing out on a ministerial spot, now stands a risk of being swept away by the current anti – corruption crusade of the present administration
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
For President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war to be adjudged impartial, the opposition has urged him to also probe the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu has been accused by the opposition of colluding with his erstwhile political protégé, Fashola, in allegedly amassing the wealth of the Lagos state for years.
A sponsored documentary on African Independent Television (AIT) The Lion Of Bourdillon, in the weeks leading up to the 2015 general election, alleged that Bola Tinubu was corrupt. It accused him of converting almost all the landed properties in Lagos to personal use and in engaging in monumental looting.
The opposition has further claimed that the APC has not prosecuted anyone for corruption-related offences since the past 16 years that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has ruled Lagos.
In calling for a probe of Tinubu, Chief Bode George said:
“In the end there is no way to divorce Fashola from Bola Tinubu. They are both linked in unutterable complicity. If Fashola stands today in tarnished allegations, Tinubu, his godfather, cannot possibly distance himself in innocent escapism.
“If Fashola now rots in the mud, we must look through the depths to understand the instigating and factor. Whenever Fashola is cooling his feet at the interrogation centre, Tinubu should not be far behind.”
Even though Tinubu has not been found guilty of graft by a court of competent jurisdiction, the barrage of allegations levelled against him by the opposition may pressure President Buhari to investigate his political ally.
Another APC chieftain who has been in the eye of the storm is former Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi. Since vacating office, Amaechi has been bombarded with barrage of accusations bordering on fraud and abuse of office from his successor, Governor Nyesom Wike.
Wike, who once served as Chief of Staff in the administration of Amaechi has alleged that he met an empty treasury when he took over the reins of governance in the state on May 29, contrary to claims of the immediate past administration that it left N7 bn in the state coffers.
He has also alleged that his predecessor ran the most corrupt regime in the country and should be made to account for his deeds. The governor has accused Amaechi of spending billions accrued to the state from the federation accounts and loans obtained from various commercial banks.
Wike’s quest to bring Amaechi to account also gained momentum after the Rivers state High Court on August 20, 2015, granted his administration permission to probe the former governor.
Despite the mountain of allegations leveled against him, Amaechi has vowed not appear before the probe panel set up by his successor to investigate his administration’s sale of valued public assets and his role in the alleged contract inflation and other related allegations on the ground that the panel is illegal.
But Amaechi’s effort to shrug off any probe of his administration may expose him to more harm following Wike’s efforts to garner support from President Buhari to back the probe.
In a report on Vanguard dated June 20, 2015, Wike asked President Muhamadu Buhari to support his bid to probe Amaechi and recover funds allegedly stolen by the former governor.
“I am confident that President Buhari will support my administration in the quest to tackle the massive corruption that characterised the Amaechi administration.” he said.
Amaechi is now faced with the herculean task of not only vindicating his name, but also proving that he is worth being considered for an appointment in Buhari’s administration. The Huge hurdles before the former Rivers state governor has made it very difficult for him come out of this battle unscathed.
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