FACT: The name of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a household one especially for those who know anything about contemporary Nigerian politics. He has managed to carve a niche for himself in the politics of Nigeria as the national leader of the opposition party All Progressives Congress. Even his critics openly and grudgingly admit that Tinubu is no pushover when it comes to the politics of entrenched interests in Lagos state. I wrote about him here, here and here and those should give you an idea of what I think about him.
FACT: In a bid to hold on to power at the centre, the PDP has found itself having to fight several battles simultaneously against a number of enemies who have coalesced into a clearly formidable force, the PDP has deployed every clean and dirty tactic into tackling its enemies. Several weeks back, a shocking expose of actions committed by General Muhammadu Buhariin his time as Head of States was aired as a sponsored documentary on AIT – this has now been followed by another seeming expose of Bola Tinubu’s corruption and embezzlement/misappropriation of funds and property belonging to Lagos State. From claims that he owns Television Continental and Radio Continental to First Nation Airlines, The Nation newspapers, Oriental Hotel and several other lucrative businesses mostly in Lagos. The alleged crown of the jewel is the Alpha Beta Consultants which is in the employ of the Lagos State government to help with tax collection in Lagos state.
FACT: The idea of Tinubu’s corruption is one which only few have not heard discussed in beer-parlours, markets and even polite conversation. Nuhu Ribadu when he was the helmsman at the EFCC once described him as very corrupt but strangely chose to align with him in 2011 to form an opposition party. Some have dared to raise the matter publicly but evidence against him as been hard to get. Diehard Tinubuists raise two defences to street allegations of Tinubu’s corruption, firstly that he doles out generous amounts of cash to his allies and supporters and secondly that if he was so corrupt then the federal government should have prosecuted him so far. It is ironic that APC members would point to Tinubu himself as evidence thatPresident Goodluck Jonathan is unable to fight corruption. Indeed, the closest Tinubu has ever come to going on trial for corruption was when he appeared before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
FACT: Those who render the latter explanation fail to understand that the political empire called Tinubu’s Bourdillon is filled with people who are highly intelligent and organised. Tinubu is surrounded by very intelligent men who are adept in matters of the law (like his then Chief of Staff Raji Fashola and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo), accounting geniuses (like Akinwunmi Ambode), dealers in land matters (like Gbenga Ashafa) and so on. Tinubu also maintains good relationships with bankers like Femi Pedro. Such a group cannot by any means be lacking in intelligence enough to embezzle funds, circumvent the law and cook the books as James Hadley Chase would describe it.
And the methods that may be used are so disingenuous: the Lagos State Government acquires a piece of property like the Ikosi Campus of LASPOTECH or shares in a telecommunication company, holds it for a while then sells it off to one of Tinubu’s cronies who holds it in trust for him. Sometimes, the state government may even decide to sell it off directly to him.
FACT: Tunji Olowolafe is a known crony of Bola Tinubu who sits comfortably on the board of Eko Distribution Company, one of the PHCN DISCOs. Opuiyo Oforiokuma, another Tinubu acolyte was the MD of the Lekki Concession Company in the expansion of the Lekki-Epe expressway. In 2012, he moved over to Asset and Resource Management Company (ARM) which had partnered with the LCC and got huge chunks of land where it constructed ADIVA Estate and Beechwood Estate. The details are hazy but I did master them at the time: LCC, a private concession company got the concession rights to Build, Operate and Transfer the road. It got funds from a bank in South Africa, using lands given to it by the LASG as collateral. These lands were acquired by the State Government under the Land Use Act, which law had been passed by the House of Assembly in Tinubu’s time as governor. An obnoxious section of the agreement between LCC and LASG says that if the concessionaire in the cause of executing the concession deems it fit to acquire a land in the area surrounding the concession, it shall make an application to the state government which shall acquire the land for the concessionaire. Lands were thus acquired all the way to Epe area and Eleko where the pet project of Senator Remi Tinubu has a New Era Youth Camp – NEYOCA.
Is there anything illegal in such actions? Surely, but it will be difficult to prove: the act is well backed by spurious laws passed by the State House of Assembly which give the state government the right to acquire land or property. If the state deems it fit to sell such acquired property to Bola Tinubu or anyone else, it is well within the law, even if it is at giveaway prices.
This is why it is all important for Tinubu that he controls the keys of the Alausa roundhouse. Such laws and awesome powers in the hands of any governor can be inimical to the godfather’s interests if such governor is not loyal to him.
This piece shows how it can be done not how it was done – for that you will have to do a bit of research on the names mentioned here and look for the connection.
Demola Rewaju is a super blogger and a writer who manages Demola Rewaju Daily.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.