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The intrigues are not lost on us – Part 2

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President Buhari. Photo: TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

After President Yar’adua’s demise, his reluctant deputy eventually mounted the saddle. Although a full-blown indigene of the oil and gas surfeited the Niger Delta region, the new president, however, took a different approach to the petroleum resources portfolio. He appointed a substantive minister, and before long the minister proved to be both self-inspired and driven.

Apparently being an ex-executive of Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, she presumably knew something of the wheeling and dealing of the industry. She would not brook much interference in her mandate. She soon acquired the sobriquet, “Nigeria’s petroleum empress”.

The oil and gas-merry generals became openly piqued by the seeming Johnny-come-lately. Obasanjo expectedly led the charge to whip the empress onto the line. But the reluctant Commander-in-Chief had been irretrievably taken in by the charming elegant empress. Then, the next possible scenario: regime change – President Goodluck Jonathan has become incompetent.

Again, Obasanjo led the charge. In a rather bizarre manner, he tore his membership card of the political party that had given him and his family so much. He was no longer a member of the party, he then announced before television cameras. In 2015 he threw his entire weight behind Buhari, candidate of the leading opposition party.

The Daura-born general won convincingly. Like his military predecessor, Buhari was his own petroleum minister. (It would be recalled that he had previously discharged that office in the 1970s under Obasanjo) But in yet another bizarre manner, Obasanjo turned coat, about halfway through Buhari’s first term. Buhari was no longer competent to be president in Obasanjo’s estimation.

Nigerians were subsequently offered all manner of reasons for the general’s new opinion of the president. And, of course, the taciturn general, Danjuma, soon threw in his hat with his fellow oil and gas-merry general. Even Babangida, an elite of the armour corps, fired some salvos from his virtual solitude in Mina. Buhari was to be denied a second term, come rain, come shine!

But despite the best endeavours of the oil and gas-merry generals, Buhari ran the gauntlet and was returned to office in 2019. All of these are well-known facts, of course; so I plead guilty of tasking my esteemed readers with the tedium of a tale told twice. But mine is a necessary prelude to the proceeding submissions. It may be recalled that academic historians in the mould of John Paden and the likes have made similar submissions in the not so distant past; for example refer to “Oil and the Nigerian Army” by the renowned professor. Submissions: 1) In the immediate post-civil war years, the Nigerian military got a good head start in the oil and gas sector, much at the expense of the country’s politicians.

The less professionally-minded military men of the period quickly learned the intrigues of that emerging source of enormous material wealth, and consequently became superlatively wealthy in short order. 2) That super-wealthy officers-corps has since become inseparably bound up the body, soul and all with the corn-in-Egypt world of oil and gas. 3) And, in the weeks leading up to the 2019 general elections, a seeming professionally-minded retired general, Alani Akinrinade had issued a full-page rejoinder in leading local newspapers, pointing deprecatingly at a leading member of that officers-corps. That member is one of the elder statesmen alluded to in the opening paragraphs. 4) Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that members of the said officers-corps have since lost the capacity to think and act patriotically, in spite of themselves. Nigeria’s best interests would be better served if such a self-serving group is given a wide berth.
As I made to sign off on this piece a brief dialogue involuntarily popped up in my head. Please read on:

“Hello Muhammadu; congratulations on your confirmed victory!”

“Ah! Thank you, sir. This is a big surprise call!”

“Well, you know I’m full of surprises…”

“I know.”

“How are Hajia and the children?”

“The family is fine. How’s your own family, sir?”

“Almighty Allah has been kind to us; we are all ok. Thanks.”

“Good to hear so…”

“By the way I hope you didn’t think I meant all those stuff in the media during the elections fever.”

“Em…; em; eh, no. No, sir.”

“You know how desperate our media practitioners can get in election seasons…”

“Walahi; gaskiya we all know this…”

“You know, it is always necessary to give them enough sleazy contents to help them sell their papers; otherwise their wives abandon them.”

Light laughter.

“Ha, ha… Gaskiya, sir, you and I are totally on the same page. As you know sir, my avowal to probe the $16bn power contracts was made in the same light.”

“Muhammadu! Muhammadu!”

“Esprit de corps is for life, sir.”

“Muhammadu! Muhammadu!”

Purposeful coughing bout.

“Take it easy sir.”

“Not to worry; I’m ok…”

“Sorry sir.”

“Thanks. Em, Muhammadu, I would like to come and discuss the 2020 hydrocarbon concessions bid round.”
Pin-drop silence.

“Muhammadu; Muhammadu; Muhammadu! Can you hear me?”
Pin-drop silence.

“Muhammadu!”

“Sir! The line is breaking…”

“But I can hear you clearly.”

Pin-drop silence.

“Muhammadu!”

“Sir! I can’t hear you…”

“I can’t remember experiencing connectivity issues in my eight years; this is very strange… Are you still on the line?”
Pin-drop silence.

“Muhammadu!”

“Sir!”

“Haba! How come you hear your name, but not the rest of my conversation?”

“The line is breaking up again. Walahi, these Network providers are INCOMPETENT!”

“No. Someone is being too clever for their own good…”
Happy New Year, fellow compatriots!

Nkemdiche, an engineering consultant, wrote from Abuja


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