In Nigeria, a senate committee investigating how land was appropriated during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo said it might call the former president to testify to vindicate himself about allegations of impropriety. A house committee is already investigating how the Obasanjo government allegedly wasted billions of dollars on ghost improvements to the country’s power sector.
The land investigation focuses on how the former president and one of his right-hand men allegedly got their hands on several pieces of land in the federal capital of Abuja.
Kabiru Mato heads the political science department at the University of Abuja. He told VOA the investigations should serve notice to current Nigerian politicians and those aspiring to be that a day of reckoning is coming.
“The probe that is going on currently in the senate is not particularly about a plot of land that was allocated to the former president by the former minister of Federal Capital Territory Nasir el-Rufai. The probe is a holistic probe that is examining a lot of things that people have accused the last administration of doing as far as the administration of Federal Capital Territory is concerned. So it had to do with land allocation not only to the former president but also to the minister and his relatives as well as the illegal evictions and ejections of tenants in their residences,” he said.
Mato said the former president’s name has come up because his minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nasir el-Rufai, allocated land to his political associates.
“The disturbing aspect of it is that quite a lot of land that was undeveloped in the capital territory were revoked by the former minister. And after revocation of these plots of land, they were mainly allocated to his relatives, to his friends, and perhaps political associates. And that’s why the name of former president came it,” Mato said.
He said many believe former President Obasanjo should be invited to testify before the senate committee investigating the land deal.
“Believing in President (Umaru) Yar’Adua’s agitation for the rule of law, due process, equality before the law, we believe that there is a need for the former president and all those who are central actors in that government, especially as it relates to the specific case to answer questions on how this thing went so bad in the country,” he said.
Mato rejected the suggestion by some that bringing former President Obasanjo to testify would give more ammunition to those African leaders who are clinging on to power for fear they might one day be treated like Obasanjo if they relinquished power.
“It’s a good omen for Nigerian politics. It is also a good omen for Nigerian people and leaders themselves because all those in position of authority and those that are aspiring to be would bear in their minds that the day of reckoning certainly will come no matter how long it takes when they are in office. So they will learn the act of supervising over the affairs of the people,” especially their resources in most prudent, and satisfactory manner,” he said.
Mato said the central thesis of governance should be service to the people and not to amass wealth.