Governor Oshiomhole has been raising allegations upon allegations against the immediate past government. He seems to be deriving tremendous joy in rais-ing those hair-splitting accusations. The allegations range from the barely believable to the outrightly incredible. Whose war is the Edo governor fighting, asks EMMA ALOZIE
HE IS THE governor of Edo State and a former national labour leader. When in 2012 he won reelection as the governor of Edo State against many permutations, he led a delegation to personally thank the then President Goodluck Jonathan for making it possible despite the fact that he is of a different political party.
Two years after, the comrade governor is probably the greatest enemy of Jonathan and his government. In fact right from the campaigns to the elections that eventually saw the ouster of Jonathan as president, Governor Oshiomhole has never hidden his morbid hatred for whatever and whoever that is related to Jonathan.
Since after May 29 when Jonathan left office, Oshiomhole has found a new fancy in launching one vitriolic attack or the other against Jonathan’s government and those who served in that government, especially Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister and coordinating minister of the economy.
The Edo governor started by raising an alarm that the former finance minister should account for $30 billion Excess Crude Fund. The governor claimed that such money by his own accounting standard was unaccounted for. “Ideally, we ought to be saving $36 per barrel on the 2.3 million barrel a day over the past three years and if you look at these numbers you will find that what we have in our excess crude oil account should be over $30billion but as we speak, we have barely $3 billon in our excess crude account,” he said.
Soon after this, the Comrade governor fired another salvo claiming that Dr Okonjo Iweala used $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to finance Jonathan’s reelection bid. While addressing Edo permanent secretaries, directors and deputy directors on how to enhance IGR in Edo, the Gov Oshiomhole
governor fired the first salvo, “the truth is, many things went wrong even at the federal level. As you might have read in the papers, while the federal government, under Goodluck Jonathan, with the then Coordinating Minister of the Economy liked to blame “Governors” for wasteful spending, for not saving for the rainy day, for not investing properly, the truth is the real weakness in the Nigerian federal chain has been the Federal $1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account to fund the re-election bid of former President Jonathan is the kind of ludicrously false statement that has unfortunately become a trademark of the Governor in his public campaign of falsehood against Dr Okonjo-Iweala.
“The statement is just another example of the numerical diarrhea that seems to have afflicted His Excellency in recent times in his effort to damage the reputation of the former Minister. He has, within the last few months, asked Dr Okonjo-Iweala to explain all kinds of totally wild and unsubstantiated figures, ranging from $30 billion, $20 billion, $2.1 billion, N720 billion and now $1 billion.
“To say the obvious, the accusations are totally lacking in credibility.
Governor Oshiomhole’s published comments also contain other falsehoods. For instance, he quoted Dr Okonjo-Iweala as saying that she and the Finance Commissioners of the 36 states approved the spending of $2.1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account, adding that the Commissioners had disowned the statement. This is also a complete distortion,” the ex-minister said. Governor Oshiomhole’s hobby of raising hair splitting alarms has transcended the shores of Nigeria. After accompanying President Muhammadu Buhari to his famed four day official visit to the United States, the governor came back to drop another bomb of an allegation, which analysts say is unbecoming of a governor of a state. The governor alleged that he overheard a US official telling President Buhari that just one minister in the immediate past administration stole $6 billion.
“PDP destroyed the country. I mean from the lips of American officials; senior officials of the state department. They said one minister under PDP cornered as much as $6billion, and the man said even by Washington standard that is earth-quaking,” he said.
With these monumental allegations all emanating from Oshionmole, the question on the lips of many Nigerians is whose war is the Edo governor fighting? However, according to recent revelations, the governor’s attack on Okonjo-Iweala is said to have stemmed from the fact that the former coordinating minister turned down Oshiomhole’s request for a loan. A national newspaper recently published an account of how in a letter dated December 9, 2014, Governor Oshiomhole had requested a “No Objection” for facilities totaling N15.37 billion, which were turned down by DMO and the then minister.
The former minister was said to have felt strongly that approving the requests could put Edo State in a very difficult position. The first reason for her decision to decline the request, according to a source in DMO, was that it was wrong for the state government to obtain a commercial loan and repay same via a World Bank disbursement, which Edo State was expecting. The former minister had through the DMO communicated her reservations that using a concessional World Bank facility with a 25-year tenor and a five-year grace period at 1.25 per interest rate to pay for a commercial bank loan of 23 months tenor and 18 per cent interest rate was not only irregular but was not economically sustainable.
However, this did not go down well with the governor even though, he was not the only victim of the refusal.
Also, there is another school of thought that with the rising profile of the opposition PDP and the declining fortunes of the governor in Edo politics, he could tactically be safeguarding his political future. Followers of Edo politics say that if the forthcoming 2016 election is to be judged by the last general elections where the two major sections of the state went for PDP, it would be an uphill task for the governor to win the state for his party. The governor is said to be using his flippancy and anti-Jonathan posturing to ingratiate himself in the hearts of the new power bloc, to evade deeper interrogations when he loses his immunity next year in the case where he fails to install a preferred successor who will cover his tracks.
In politics, especially in Nigeria, every permutation in possible.