Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo is reportedly under investigation for his government’s alleged involvement in a rural telephone project. This comes after the Senate announced it was investigating the former government for acquiring a loan of $500 million, earmarked for a rural telephone project. It was later found that the project never took off even though the government assured Nigerians the project had begun and was ongoing. Political observers believe the investigation comes amid fears of the country’s increasing external debt.
But supporters of the former president describe the investigation as a witch-hunt. Political science professor Kabir Mato of the University of Abuja tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital that he doubts the credibility of the senate.
“I hope the senate would really be able to have its word bound, I hope it’s not just a mere political statement. But I doubt the credibility or the capacity of the senate to actually launch any probe given the fact that most of the members of the senate were returned by a political psychosis that was created by General Obasanjo himself. So, it might just simply be a wish-wash political statement that the senate especially makes on matters like this. But I don’t expect anything serious to come out of it,’ Mato pointed out.
He said it is sad some Nigerians perceive the investigation to be a witch-hunt against the former president.
“The issue is not that of either one is trying to witch-hunt Obasanjo or not. I think the problem has to do with the fact that, it was a government that created a lot of institutions and had made tremendous noise on the issue of fighting corruption, on the issue of maintaining law and order, on the issue of making some kid of prudence in the way government business is done in this country. And so it would be very alarming to come out and realize that after all, all that the government was preaching was merely a lip service,” he opined.
He said some Nigerians would want to see an investigation to the activities of the former government.
“I assure you that a majority of Nigerians would like to see the government of Obasanjo under probe if for no reason for the fact that there is the need for those that find themselves in the position of authority to try as much as possible match their words with action. If for any reason the government of Obasanjo is also found to have infracted, I think it’s not a matter of witch-hunting. It’s simply a case of the chicken coming home to roost,” he noted.
Mato reckons that if the senate does a thorough investigation into the activities of the former president’s government, it would serve as a note of caution to future holders of public office.
“In all honesty, I think it would be more so that President Yar’Adua is a direct beneficiary of the colossal electoral fraud that was committed in April. If the senate can take the bull by the horn and launch an inquiry, this rural telephony loan that was fake, I think it would not only impact as serving as a lesson to those that are in power and those that would be in power, but also, it will put Nigeria on a clear scale of perhaps those countries where the rule of law is supreme. And I think that would be a great indicator that perhaps the democratic system is beginning to take root,” Mato said.