Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Strong PIMP Hand

When President Yar'adua was sworn in, many pointed to the manner of his emergence, and the overwhelming influence of Baba on that process as evidence that Yar'adua would be a mere marionette, and Baba would be pulling the strings. I must admit that part of me shared this view. Then I ran into a certain paramount ruler from the northern part of Nigeria, and in the course of talking polictics, he told me things about Yar'adua which made my jaw drop. I am now seeing some of these things manifested.

President Yar'adua is not a tough-talking, rambunctious, hard-as-nails, general-who-never-fires-blank like his predecessor, but he's certainly demonstrated a capacity for independent thought since he took office. The list of policy positions he has taken in direct contrast or even glaring opposition to Baba is growing daily.

First, he repossessed the refineries in the wake of deafening public outcry, an action Baba would never even have contemplated for a nanosecond. This demonstrated that President Yar'adua was cut from not just a different cloth, but came from a different textile factory entirely. At that time, I rubbed my hands in anticipation of what would come next.

When Ettehgate occured, inside gist had it that Baba prevailed on Yar'adua several times to use his office to save her job. Yar'adua not only refused, he flared up whenever anyone suggested he was going to act to save Etteh. Again, this was a marked departure from the norm under Baba, during whose tenure the very idea of an independent National Assembly would have had the originator of such a perfidious idea immediately sent to pasture. Indeed, the emergence of Senator Ken Nnamani as Senate President was not Baba's idea, and he balked at it, but the Senators, for once, stood up to him and insisted on having their own President for once. And we all know how that turned out for Baba.

Now, Yar'adua is begining to re-examine the entire privatisation process. It started with a Ministerial investigation into the sales of NIOMCO, Delta Steel and Ajaokuta Steel to Gbenga Obasanjo (yes, the same one), and though the full findings of the panel are yet to be revealed, a sneak peek reveals several irregularities, and downright illegalities. This means the "sale" will have to be scrutinised even deeper, and maybe repudiated.

The most recent event involves the "privatisation" of NITEL/Mtel and subsequent takeover by Transcorp. Now, that particular takeover has been plagued by more problems than a pastor in a whorehouse. First, the whole IILL mess cost Llonge his job at First Bank, and the process was stopped. Then the process was restarted, and Baba refused to include the value of Mtel's mobile license ($250 million) and NITEL's considerable equipment and property holdings nationwide in the valuation of the company as it was sold at a knock-down drag-out price to Transcorp.

Then Transcorp came in, brought BT to operate NITEL, and in record time, BT pulled out. Since then, NITEL/Mtel have not had an operator. Salaries have been unpaid, and now the government has gotten fed up with all the delays and excuses, and has passed a resolution ordering Transcorp to make 27% of it's holdings in NITEL/Mtel available for sale to an investor with proper qualifications and experience.

Okereke-Onyiuke, Chairman of Transcorp's Frankensteinian board, has come out to say nothing can be done with NITEL until 2009 under the terms of the privatisation agreement. I think someone should whisper in her ear that she should keep such ideas to herself if she doesn't want to piss off the Federal Government.

A pissed off Federal Government will simply nationalise Transcorp, boot out the board, including herself, and then do what it wants with the assets of the company, including one 5-star Hilton Hotel. And if she doesn't think it's possible, she should talk to Jimoh Ibrahim.

In any event, President Yar'adua is certainly showing us all that his PIMP hand is strong. Very strong.

1 comment:


I like your reference to 'pimp hand'. lol. It is such a direct contrast to the references to Yardy that many of us use. I personally use "sof'ly, sof'ly" and Ijebuman uses "yawnadua".

I will also mention something someone said at my blog a while ago, it is easy to reverse a predecessor's decisions, but harder to initiate one's own policies (or something like that. Whether that commenter was wrong or right, there are changes happening in Nigeria. Some good, others not o good. I just wish for and hope for the best for Nigeria and its people.

Is this my first time here?


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I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...