OBJ Vs Adenuga: A memory By Louis Odion, FNGE

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo….Under his watch, Mike Adenuga was reduced to a common refugee running out of the country through the NADECO route

following, an abridgement of a two-part series entitled “Michael
Ishola Adenuga” and “Of War, Stray Bullets
P.O.Ws first carried 11 years ago (2006)
by Sunday Sun, is rerun today with a view to offering readers
some illumination to better dissect the epistolary grenade hurled Wednesday by
former President Olusegun Obasanjo against Oba Sikuri Adetona of
Ijebuland over the latter’s claims in an autobiography, “Awujale”

Though isolated by space, a
correlation of irony is easy to decipher at two events in Brussels and Lagos in
July 2006. In a landmark pronouncement, the European Union fined Microsoft a
whopping $357 million for its refusal to obey an anti-trust ruling, thus
opening yet another epic chapter in international jurisprudence.

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The computer software giant, it is
alleged, would not avail rivals of technical information pertaining to its
Windows operations.

The Author, Louis Odion…Goes back to History to validate reasons for the drama

Earlier in 2004, the EU had levied a
record 497 million euro fine on Microsoft and ordered it to hand over
communication code to rivals that complained that they were being crippled
by its vice-like hold on the market.
Naturally, Microsoft objected to
both rulings.
As the world awaits the outcome of
Microsoft’s objection, the political undertone of this potentially explosive
international legal slugfest will certainly become audible soon. Microsoft,
owned by American Bill Gates, is being challenged by competitors on European
True, America may be signatory to
relevant international info tech protocols which owns make its corporate
citizen, Microsoft, liable. But notwithstanding, it would be entirely
surprising if the dominant mood back in the States would be that of a lynch
mob, due primarily to the spirit of nationalism.

Otunba (Dr.) Mike Adenuga….The Man at the Center of the Whole Drama of Arizona

Now, contrast that with the
spectacle witnessed in Lagos on the night of July 8, 2006 when business mogul,
Otunba Mike Adenuga, was seized from his residence by a team of gunmen who
practically broke down walls in a mafia-like operation.
When the news broke Monday,
many feared the worst had happened. Until the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) issued a statement claiming responsibility, followed with
another disclosure Thursday that the Globacom boss is still innocent
after all; that no felony had been established against him yet.

Ex-EFCC Chief, Nuhu Ribadu with President Muhammadu Buhari

From the latest seven-point release,
perhaps the only fresh angle the anti-graft body gave is that the investigation
of the business mogul has “international dimension”.
To be sure, this writer is one of
those who subscribe to EFFC’s puritan philosophy to reclaim the nation’s lost
moral territory, setting a new creed in corporate conduct. But as one had
observed on this platform countless times in the past, for EFCC, the big
challenge remains the ability to enforce moral order without creating an
atmosphere that, in turn, stifles or weakens the very basis of society itself:
loss of human dignity by individuals.

The Awujale of Ijebu Land, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona….Mike Adenuga is his boy for life

True, conflicts are inevitable in
the dog-eat-dog world of business, much less in an under-developed political
economy such as ours. What counts really is the degree of the benefit of
doubt a state is indeed willing to concede to a defendant, especially if he/she
happens to be its own national. National interest – much more, pride – is certainly
not served if operatives of a national agency begin to conduct themselves in a
way that suggests that its own nationals, against whom a protest is purportedly
lodged by a foreigner, is treated ab initio as guilty even before trial.

Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona The Awujale of Ijebu land in a Glo atmosphere at Ojude Oba Festival. With him is Senator Daisi Danjuma, wife of General T.Y. Danjuma

No self-respecting nation acts that
way. That perhaps explains why a Bill Gates would readily enjoy the sympathy
and solidarity of the American establishment in the times ahead in case the EU
monitors seek instrument to shut the cyber space against Microsoft.
In its statement, EFCC stated that
the investigation of the Globacom boss has “international dimension”.
In the absence of further clarification, perhaps it is safe to assume a
conflict of international dimension has ensued. In the circumstance, what could
then be considered a bigger tragedy is if it’s proved that Adenuga’s detention
was indeed prodded externally, as the EFCC statement seems to suggest.
Given his role in many jobs-creating
enterprises in Nigeria, the least Adenuga deserves is some respect. With a
business empire straddling banking, oil and gas, and lately, telecoms, the
magnate singularly provides a source of livelihood for tens of thousand of
Nigerians, and much more indirectly. Who, in turn, pay taxes to the state and
tithes to the temple.

Nuhu Ribadu (R) The Director of the Mike Adenuga Versus Obasanjo Script

At a personal level, with the deeply
contemplative eyes, avuncular agility and folksy sense of humor, the merchant
from Ijebu could, in fact, be described as the personification of that daring
instinct, optimism against adversity, the can-do spirit that readily set the average
Nigerian apart from the rest of the human race. Really, nothing could be more
iconic of the very new liberal economic order the Obasanjo reforms seem to
envisage. In terms of scale, perhaps the only other Nigerian entrepreneur in
his category is he whiz-kid of the sugar/salt/cement market, Aliko Dangote.

Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. in a Glo atmosphere with kids and workers

For instance, in the telecoms
sector, it is doubtful if the GSM line would have become so readily accessible
to the Nigerian poor today without Adenuga’s Globacom. After the first GSM line
buzzed in 2001, we were told thereafter by South African-owned MTN that per
second billing (PSB) was not feasible in the nearest future. Of course, the GSM
landscape was still monopolized then by foreign players. When we made a second
call then, we were billed by the minute, giving glamour to a new form of
corporate heist. But not after Adenuga stormed the arena. Globacom started PSB
from the outset. Suddenly, PSB became possible for others. By that gesture
alone, Adenuga no doubt gave one thing to long-suffering Nigerian consumers:
Of course, given what is now known
to the public, there is surely more to the Adenuga/EFCC romance. This becomes
even more evident if we put the theory of “international dimension”
to some scrutiny.
So far, we were told that the detention
of the tycoon extra-ordinaire was in connection with “international
crime”. Isn’t ironic that the same man, apparently no longer sure of his
own safety, has since taken the “NADECO route” to London, a
supposedly now hostile territory for financial criminals from Nigeria? Of
course, the phrase “NADECO route” is euphemistic of the somewhat
ingenuous self-preservation tactic adopted by “dissidents” when Sani
Abacha began to limit the political space beginning from 1994. Since the hunter
had resolved to police all official gateways, the hunted too soon learnt to
plot their gateway through border bush-paths.

Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. The Protagonist of  the ‘Awujale Versus Obasanjo Drama’

There have been conflicting accounts
on how Adenuga was seized on the night of July 8. Whereas EFCC
claimed that “minimal force” was applied when the Globacom boss
repeatedly rebuffed invitation to its office, the Adenuga people insisted that
the operation was cruel and humiliating, typical of Hitler’s Gestapo.
Apparently, it took public uproar
before the business mogul was released from detention. In letting him off, the
anti-graft commission made us believe that investigations of the alleged
“international crime” was ongoing, hinting that the matter was not
over yet.
Indeed, from the constellation of
information now put in the public domain, Adenuga’s “sins” can be
reduced to a four-count charge: that the PTDF placed deposits in Equitorial
Trust Bank owned by Adenuga; that public fund was converted to augment payment
for GSM license of Globacom in 2002; that he donated a building to ABTI University
owned by the Vice President (Atiku Abubakar) apparently as
“gratification” for his influencing the lodgement of PTDF money in
ETB; that the Vice President owned a stake in Globacom.
The last charge would seem to have
been informed by the fact that the Vice President presided over the FEC meeting
that approved the GSM license for Globacom while the president was on official
trip abroad. The inference to be drawn here, therefore, is that, left to the
president, Globacom would not have secured the license.
But truth be told, these facts can
hardly be said to correlate today when subjected to the rigour of simple logic
or even common sense. If Adenuga must be nailed, then it is better to start
digging elsewhere for skeletons. For instance, it is well documented that
Globacom paid for the license in 2002 with a loan facility from BNP Paribas
while the PTDF money was lodged in 2003. Again, it is hardly a secret too that
in the pre-consolidation era, banks in Nigeria mostly specialized in jostling
for public sector funds to bolster their liquidity. So, how could it now amount
to a crime for ETB to have been favored to bank PTDF money? Again, on the issue
being made out of donation to ABTI University, it is also well documented that
Adenuga had donated generously to causes involving the president (including the
Presidential Library in Ota).
Against this backcloth, argument by
the Adenuga people that the man is only being witch-hunted would, therefore,
now seem strengthened. What is invariably left unsaid is that perhaps authorities
are just unhappy that Adenuga, known to be very close to the Vice President,
refused to squeal information to nail him on his alleged “shady
deals” in Obasanjo’s desperation to nail his deputy since they fell out.
Of course, it is now also public
knowledge that Adenuga had famously committed a grave verbal indiscretion early
in 2006 in the heat of the desperate manouvre by Obasanjo’s strategists to
wangle tenure elongation.
At one of the nocturnal conclaves to
which he was invited to fine-tune the strategy, the guileless business mogul
had reportedly proposed the idea of a “Plan B” in the event that the
Third Term bid refused to fly. Just as he feared, not only did Third Term fail
like a pack of cards even after billions of naira was given to federal
lawmakers as bribes, Obasanjo’s political humiliation was compounded by the
lack of any dignifying “Plan B” immediately.

Dr. Mike Adenuga at a Social Event with wife, Titi & Ovation Magazine Publisher, Dr. Dele Momodu

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There is, therefore, some sense in
the argument of those interpreting the new frenzy of clampdown by EFFC on
perceived “opposition elements” and anyone related to them upon the
collapse of the tenure elongation agenda at the National Assembly gallery in
May 2006 as OBJ’s vicious fight-back.
Like the NADECO exiles of old,
Adenuga can only pray that the Abuja warriors (OBJ and Atiku) bury the hatchet
– a remote possibility now – to enable him return home and continue his normal
life. God save the 
P.O.Ws (prisoners
of war)


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