by Stanley Azuakola
As long as he is alive, Olusegun Obasanjo, will always be a factor in the political affairs of Nigeria. Five years have gone by since he ceased being president, yet there’s hardly a national issue in which he is not directly or indirectly involved, or for which he does not at least have a strong opinion about.
Concerning the matter of Hon Farouk Lawan, Femi Otedola, and the alleged $620,000 offered to the legislative veteran by the business mogul, Obasanjo’s name has unsurprisingly cropped up.
At a book launch less than a month ago, Obasanjo had been at his fiery best when he blasted the National Assembly as being a arm of government populated by rogues and armed robbers. As usual, some of the parliamentarians went into a fit and threw histrionics which obviously did nothing to faze the ex-president. Now it appears that Chief Obasanjo was on to something when he made the scathing accusation.
Reports have emerged that Obasanjo was one of the first to lay hands on the video recording of Hon Farouk Lawan allegedly collecting a bribe from Femi Otedola and other officials of Zenon Oil in an State Security Service (SSS) orchestrated sting operation.
It was Obasanjo, in fact, who briefed House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal on the existence of such a recording, according to a Guardian report. Tambuwal had paid a courtesy visit to Obasanjo with the aim of expressing his reservations about the latter’s labelling of the honourable members as thieves. Sources say the president listened to the speaker with restraint, and when the speaker was done, Obasanjo dramatically –as he is wont to do—revealed the can of worms about Hon Lawan’s alleged bribery demand running into millions of dollars in relation to the then ongoing probe of the fuel subsidy regime in the House.
Tambuwal was shocked. When he returned to Abuja, he summoned and confronted Farouk Lawan over the matter. Lawan denied the allegations, but could not keep up the lie for long after he was fed with details of all that transpired at the address where officials of Zenon Oil and Gas allegedly gave him $500,000 in marked notes.
Interestingly, Lawan adopted this same strategy of first denying, before admitting to accepting the $620,000 (N100 million) bribe when the news first surfaced in the media.