Otedola Versus Lawan: Before We Slaughter…

– Sulaiman Adamu, Leadership

For a country in her 50s, Nigeria has failed to grow out of her diapers, always making the same mistakes over and over again. At every point, she professes one thing and does exactly the opposite, forgetting that being at sea and on land at the same time are the attributes of a confused sailor.  This time, just like many others, is no different.

The dust raised by Honourable Farouk Lawan’s alleged acceptance of a bribe from Zenon Oil boss, Femi Otedola, in the course of executing his duties as chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, is yet to settle.

This is so because of the loud calls for varying forms of punishment to be visited upon the lawmaker, whose voice has been lost in the whole saga, even as he still maintains his innocence; the loudest voice being that of his accuser, the man who claims to have given him the said sum.

The country, without exception, has risen in condemnation of the lawmaker, calling him all sorts of unprintable names, thanks to the one-sided war, solely fought and sponsored in the media by an industrial magnate and a lawmaker, who at this point, can hardly say anything that makes sense to the average Nigerian, who has already drawn a conclusion; considering that the public has been fed a diet of falsehood and half-truths.

One is, however, worried that a man has boldly accepted giving out bribe and he is still walking the streets free, and all hailing him. Otedola, at all times, has told those who cared to listen that he gave out bribe monies, and in so doing he got the services of the DSS.

But why has the State Security Service not been forthcoming with the truth? They have been claiming to have a video recording of the meeting between both parties; but can they do Nigerians the service of playing a non-doctored version of this video?

All we hear now are tit-bits of an audio recording that was not only conclusive but no monetary discussion heard instead of the video footage as they claimed. That audio recording as it is being bandied about is nothing more than audio recording. It is not evidential. In this era of emerging technologies, one won’t be surprised to even see a video tape of anyone doing anything.

Is it not a classic case that Otedola and his co-travellers who claimed they had the recording handy have refused to make it available to either the police authorities or the Nigeria public via YouTube as he promised?

During his appearance at the Ethics and Privileges Committee of the House, he paraded himself as a man who likes openness and transparency. In so doing he chose that “his case” should be treated in the court of public opinion.

So why has he refused to submit the said recording to the public for scrutiny? Or is it taking his “doctors” a longer than thought time to produce the video?

In this particular case, Otedola has become the whistleblower, while the man who reported him to the police and the House authority earlier has become a scapegoat of some sort. The accuser has suddenly become the accused.

While Farouk Lawan was arrested, detained and released later, the main culprit was walking the streets a free man. In a more civilised clime, Otedola would have been arrested. The story here is that Otedola is guilty of offering.

And the fact that the security agencies cannot produce traces of the “marked dollars”, one would be forced to bring in “Special Agent Otedola” and his non-existent partners from the DSS to help unravel this mystery.

I do not want to believe that Otedola is under some sort of illusion anyway. There are so many distortions in the Otedola claim; unfortunately, Nigerians are taking it in. Marked money don’t last more than 48 hours, yet he had the so-called marked money since April.

He said Farouk was mounting pressure on him, yet you still went looking for him in his hotel room. You claim you were innocent of an allegation, yet you were ready to play ball with your accuser. I think any discerning mind can read between the lines. We are not all gullible after all.

To those who have come in contact with Lawan, this story of Otedola is but one big gang-up in an attempt to rubbish the report of the House Committee that probed the subsidy regime. It is only normal that those indicted in the report, including Otedola would want to do everything to rubbish the report.

And so they went for the messenger, knowing that once the messenger is discredited, the message is destroyed.  Otedola plays a major part in delivering petroleum to the Nigerian populace, and this makes him a complete enemy of the Nigerian people.  Otedola cannot even be trusted. He is a worse evil, a saboteur of the Nigerian economy.

For all our crusades against corruption, we are yet to find a bold tongue to condemn him in public. While Lawan is taking an unending pummeling from all and sundry, the man who played hide and seek with him is taking a grandiose stand in the cash and carry media, telling a tale of his heroics, forgetting that it is not yet uhuru. We must not throw away the baby with the bathwater. I think all sides of this issue should be looked at objectively.


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