Monday, October 1, 2007

Akinjide tasks Obasanjo on privatisation revenue

SECOND Republic Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Richard Akinjide has challenged former President, Olusegun Obasanjo to explain how his government spent money realized from the privatization programme he embarked upon in his eight year rule.

Chief Akinjide who condemned the privatization policy of the ex-president said Nigerians needed to know who bought all the assets sold and at what cost.

“We have had the worst government in this country within the last eight years. I am ready to challenge anybody on it", he said at a forum organised in Ibadan by the Ibadan United Front.

"Chief Obasanjo sold everything the country had. The only things he did not remember to sell are National Assembly building, Aso Rock, and the Supreme Court building”, Chief Akinjide said at the forum.

Explaining his role in the emergence of Alhaji Shehu Shagari as President in 1979, he wondered why anyone would blame him for bringing the idea of 122/3 saying he, as a lawyer, he only argued for his client adding that he was not the Supreme Court that gave the judgment and as a good lawyer, you must do all you can to win a case for your client.

His words: “I don’t know why people keep blaming me for the idea of twelve-two-third. I only argued the case. I did not do anything to influence the judgment of the Supreme Court. I did not write the Supreme Court judgment. It is wrong to blame a messenger but blame the message.”

According to him, he is no longer interested in politics but to play the role of a statesman. “I know my brother (Lam Adesina), is a politician and he has never disappointed me. What I want at this stage of my life is what God gives me. I was 27 years when I joined the parliament. What do I want again? I’m no more a politician but a statesman and I will speak the truth no matter whose ox is gored.”

His denunciation of politics did not go down well with Alhaji Adesina who, in fury, said “I know you are a statesman, but you must help to correct the things that have been destroyed. There are many thieves at the federal, state and local governments. Many governors are thieves. Obasanjo should be held responsible for what is happening in Ibadan. We allow nonentity and mediocrity to reign in the city. What he (Obasanjo) did not succeed in privatizing are the ordinary Nigerians."
The former AGF also dismissed the conception of Nigerians that something was wrong with the extant constitution emphasizing that our leaders were the ones who shirked in their responsibilities.

His words: “I feel very sad and embarrassed that in the last 45 years, we have had more than five constitutions but the critical point is that nothing is wrong with our constitution but our rulers. If you bring Americans here to operate this constitution, it would work. And in the same vein, if you take Nigerians to America, you will find out that the constitution there would not work for them.

“In the past eight years, what we had in Nigeria was a military government masquerading as a civilian government. And let me correct one thing which most Nigerians do not know. When we drafted the 1979 constitution, what came out was not what we submitted. There were 17 critical amendments.

“We should stop comparing American Constitution with ours. There is no basis for comparison. In America, the president is elected by electoral votes but in Nigeria, president is elected by popular votes.

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