On 18th April, 2012, it was a placating day for millions of Nigerians earlier inflicted with a vicious removal of a putative Government subsidy on fuel consumed by the public. That day, Lawan Farouk, Chairman of Subsidy Probe Panel, finally submitted the report from the investigation conducted by the Panel he chaired on the fraudulent funds claimed by the various oil marketers who benefitted largely from the oil subsidy fund without importing fuel.
The whole nation was agog for the bravado and sanctity of baby-face Farouk, who was helping pave a pathway to justice from the hands of masked cabals responsible for throwing the nation into the year’s
early turmoil in a fuel subsidy crisis. Yelling Nigerians in January ridiculed the claim by the Federal Government to be paying subsidy on the fuel consumed by the public, which it said it was then removing.
The purported removal brought massive darkness, market inflation, discomfort, hunger, sufferings and nationwide protest. The hike in fuel price occasioned by the said removal of subsidy further deepened
the effect of poverty on the mass of people.
Since the history of Nigeria, the ruling class has always taken hostages of the hoi polloi, subjecting them to abject poverty to make hold of wealth so as to oppress the poor and command their docility.
Different phases of crime against the masses have unraveled, and chapters have opened; from the use of military might, to the use of position, power, force, and then to the use of persuasion, tricks,
blatant lies, and finally to using glaring rape and scam with impunity.
In wild search of a way out, Nigerians began to wake into awareness and thought of using their civil power to vote out wicked elements via elections. Dispensations after dispensations, Nigeria fell in the hand of a criminal dynasty, and like the journey of forty-days prolonged into one of forty-years for the Israelites, it prolonged the year of sufferings for the Nigerian people. Marchers-on dropped by the way, but the rest trudged on. In 2011, it was another election period, another opportunity to weed out frauds, but a new leaf turned with the emergence of a character claiming to be one of the poor and winning over the minds of the electorates. A massive submission of the credulous ones, coupled with the implementation of a rigging plan
delivered the Nation again to the cartel of crooks.
Nigerians by now are aware that they are not lucky yet, with the current administration manifesting as yet another scam. The current President is still one of them; same of the same. The Nigerian people
capitulated for the fate of another four wasteful years, to wait for 2015. However, in the midst of waiting, several befuddling drama played out, trouncing all records in the annals of corruption and fraud. The country’s only staple, oil, became the enemy of the citizens’ souls. Oil marketers, otherwise named as ‘cabal’ by the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration defrauded the nation, understandably in connivance with some top Government officials.
Nigerians discerned it all as fraud and protested against it. The protest dragged the nation into bedlam, with economic activities paralyzed and some citizens killed while demonstrating against the Federal Government’s hoax.
In the face of all these, the latest monumental fraud and deception spawned in a world-class drama featuring two characters out of which it is difficult to identify the protagonist from the antagonist. It
was between an Oil Baron and a supposed Man of the People – the cinema of a rape which continues like an unending soap-opera. It is the new tale of a charlatan, masking as a principled Businessman, and a
swindler presenting himself as the people’s savior and an anti-corruption crusader.
Femi Otedola grew up in a very green pasture with ample care. He was well furnished with every necessity to make up for luxury. Being beneficiary of a family with a Profit making pedigree and son of a former Governor, Micheal Otedola, and Femi of course built his career around the country’s staples. On growing up, his’ is one synonymous with the aphorists’ ‘silver spoon’. Living on Nigeria’s oil, Femi Otedola has the credential which distinguishes him as one of the only two (with Dangote) listed in Forbes, 2009, as Nigeria’s billionaires denominated in Dollars. He is the CEO of one of Zenon Oil, an indigenous Giant in the Business of Diesel in Nigeria.
For this feat, Femi Otedola enjoys limitless governmental backing in his Business endeavors. Just like Dangote, Femi gains preference in his Business dealings that require Government’s approval or licensing
against his competitors, and in the interest of his continuous Oil Business operation, he oils the palms of politicians. It is hard to separate Femi Otedola from an inclination to oil palms in order to clear his pathways to profit. It is evident from his fraternity with the ruling party and his enjoyment of direct access to Presidents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since Obasanjo’s era. Otedola had donated overwhelmingly towards the concerns of top Nigerian Politicians. A few popular examples of his exhibition of generosity include the sponsorship of the President’s campaign with N100m and the offer of N200m towards the building of Obasanjo’s Presidential Library, all testifying to his relationship and experience with top power and financial drooling.
Lawan Farouk is a politician and a representative of the people from his constituency. Being a young looking politician with no verbose chapters dedicated to yet to his credit in landmark books, Farouk Lawan gained the opportunity to become a sudden storm like the ousted anti-corruption czar, Nuhu Ribadu. Like Nigerians did to Ribadu, all Nigerians desirous of change immediately banked on Farouk Lawan to give them adequate representation that could help facilitate a process of setting a new order of things, to prosecute those responsible for the January 2012 catastrophe in the Nation and restore hope to the
masses. He had been in the House of Reps for years (four consecutive terms; since 1999) sufficient enough to call him a veteran politician.
Nigerians had banked on him to help champion the cause of getting compensation for the unnecessary weeks-long duel with the self-seeking cabalists in January.
Being the leader of an ‘integrity group’ that fostered the ousting of a tenacious House Speaker Patricia Etteh in late 2007, Lawan Farouk received a fresh the responsibility to head the probe panel that involved several oil marketers, including the field iconic, Femi Otedola. He had two doors from this; one path to rescue 150million from suffering in vain, and the other an avenue to rise to sordid opulence.
Femi Otedola, one of the country’s highest donors and sponsors of the ruling political party, is worth more than the said $3million demanded by his investigator, but he said he was proving saint by exposing to
the world that his auditor needs be audited as well. Otedola feels too big for Farouk to drag in the mud, and therefore chose to toss some dollar coins to set the dummy up.
Lawan Farouk’s part of the soap opera reminds of the joke about a young urchin once told in North America. The boy, about 11, was considered a fool. His experimenter wanted to put his smartness to
test and called observers to sit and said; look, this boy I’m sure isn’t yet wise. I’ll offer him $5 and $1 respectively. He may not recognize the highest value. The boy was invited and he chose the $1 against the $5 note. The triers thought the boy was a fool, and they thought of continuing the test for as long as the boy would be wise.
The boy continued for years, picking $1 against $5. The boy was now 17, and still was picking the $1. One day, one of the observers called him to one side and inquired why at that age, he still did not value
$5 more than $1. The boy curtly replied that he knows the day he picks the $5, the game would be over.
Lawan Farouk may not be as wise as that boy for wanting the whole $5 from one oil mogul. The list he compiled contains as well other oil marketers, if he wanted to extort money. He could split his illegal
income target among the quarries on his spurious list. But a covetous Lawan billed Femi Otedola way too high for delisting.
Stupefied Otedola, he thought it not wise that his bill would be too high among other oil marketers who benefitted from the purported subsidy fund, just to be delisted. Common sense must have instructed
Otedola that his investigator must have demanded lower bills of other indicted oil marketers. Why must Otedola’s Zenon Oil then be put to cross for others to live?
Poor Farouk, being a four-terms member of the House of Reps, he had been focused with the Kano spotlight, to be considered a strong candidate for Kano Governorship election come next dispensation, but
gluttony, the intrinsic syndrome of Nigerian politics messed up his chances too early.
Otedola claimed Farouk demanded, but Farouk accused that Otedola offered. If Farouk demanded, was he the only man in the probe panel and why would others not suspect or speak up on an imminent compromise
of their investigation or report? What role was played by other members of the probe panel who helped conducting the investigation? Where they all silenced too?
If Otedola offered Farouk the money, why did Farouk not hint the Security operatives? Why did he collect the money and where is the money even as his witnesses denied knowledge of his intrigues? By now, Nigerians know neither Otedola nor Farouk is saint.
Between Otedola and Farouk, whatever the script they are acting, the drama is only a process to elongate the Subsidy Probe process and a ploy by the ruling political party to faint the matter from the heart of Nigerians by buying out time. Or, what does it mean by making the thief catch the hunter? It’s a season film and will not end anytime soon. Nigerians already know by now, that making two characters have almost equal edge in a matter is merely an attempt to complicate the story plot, create suspense and justify the making of ‘Part 2’.
Nigerians already know from Justice Awokulehin’s handling of Ibori’s case, that there is no Justice system in Nigeria, and therefore, raising another flat character of Lawan Farouk is nothing short of giving another dimension to the story to warp the climax and distort the possible epilogue – no film trick yet.
The Otedola/Farouk $3million bribery scandal is the testament of a riddled Subsidy Probe Report. It shows a number of others who may have earlier complied with Lord Farouk’s directive may have been delisted
prior to the report’s submission. If so, all members of the subsidy probe panel, not only Farouk, are compromised, and that is a simple random stratum of the entire House of Frauds.
It makes yet another litmus test with disappointing result of how much Nigerians cannot trust the fraudulent claim of anti-corruption war embarked upon by any administration in Nigeria since the outset of Civilian/Democratic rule in the country. It’s another down-letting for the citizens and the supposed democracy of Nigeria.
The latest Otedola/Farouk episode proves nothing yet, it’s just another political rape and inkling that Nigeria needs deep political cleansing. Pairing Otedola and Farouk in makes no contrast; Nigerians know both are no saints.
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