Malabu oilgate, Etete, and the Jonathan Presidency By Adeolu Ademoyo

Most recently, agitpropists and covert defenders of the presidency have tried very hard to cover the track of the presidency from the Malabu oilgate. However, because corruption and fraud are evil as a first principle, and President Jonathan and our nation’s Attorney General, Mr. Mohammed Adoke were conscious of their involvement in the deal, these defenses only reveal the deep complicity of the presidency in the scandal.

Let me outline how the presidency, through its official and unofficial spokespersons have tried but failed to defend the presidency’s complicity in the Malabu oilgate.

First, they claim that the federal government was only a honest broker to transfer money that Shell oil had paid to Malabu. Second, that the Malabu scandal predated Mr. Jonathan’s presidency and he is only trying to manage a bad situation. Therefore the important thing is where we are today and we should move on.

The third concedes that Malabu is a “dodgy” company, but the government should not be held responsible for its dodginess. The fourth is that the government is only carrying out its international obligation by acting as an honest broker. Finally, they assert that Mr. Adoke the Attorney General has said everything and there is nothing more to add.

With their defense, the ethical question is: at what point do public officials such as President Jonathan and Mr. Adoke violate public ethics and a nation’s laws which they originally swore to uphold and defend when they accepted the job they are paid by citizens’ taxes to do?

I am aware of those who, sadly, defend President from an ethnic, zonal and religious standpoint. I will ignore those for they count for nothing. Since 1960 we have been in this business of wanting our country, Nigeria to get it right. This has been without much success. The ethnic arguments in defense of rulers are mere distractions we are used to. So the tantrums of the zonal men, ethnic and religious bigots have no place in this conversation. They will be ignored with the deserved contempt.

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My argument is simple: President Goodluck Jonathan and the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Mr. Adoke are guilty in the Malabu oil scandal of abusing public trust and using the hallowed status of the Nigerian state to nourish and facilitate a fraud at the point they had the power to but failed to resolve the serial criminalities of Malabu company by asking it to perfect its existence under Nigerian laws before facilitating the so-called payment.

And given that this was an act of commission on the part of President Jonathan and Mr. Adoke, they have the moral obligation to inform Nigerians why they failed to address Malabu’s serial criminalities before they facilitated the payment.

Now let us take the so-called defense systematically. The defense that the government was “only” playing the role of an “honest” broker begs the question.  Mr. Adoke, the Attorney General, is a lawyer. He ought to know that it is a bad argument to assume the conclusion of what you want to prove in your premise. Thus, you want to prove that using the status of the Nigerian state to pay 120 billion naira to Malabu is a honest deal. Your premise is that you were playing a role of a honest broker.

Simply put, this amounts to: “The payment of 120billion naira to Malabu is honest because Nigeria’s role is honest.” If we put aside for a moment the serial paucity of public ethics and honesty under this presidency, this defense shows that what you have in Aso Rock are also bad or at best, poor thinkers.  

An average first year undergraduate student will not make this kind of error in thought. You do not assume your conclusion in your premise. And more importantly, how can you claim to be a honest broker to a palpably and serially dishonest company, which Malabu is. Wasn’t the status of serial dishonesty known to you or ought to be known to you? It is morally unacceptable to put public trust in service of a common criminal and petty thief like Malabu.

 Having unmasked the fact that the federal government knew that Mr. Dan Etete, a former minister of petroleum in Federal Republic of Nigeria is an ex-convict, a convicted fraudster, who runs a company- Malabu which has violated Nigerian corporate laws, and that Malabu has distributed same money to companies which are unknown to Nigerian laws, the defenders of the presidency argued that Mr. Adoke and President Jonathan were “only carrying out our international obligations” and that Mr. Adoke’s “robust” defense should show that the government is not culpable.

Now let us break this down again: ”We know that Malabu is dodgy but Nigeria was only carrying out its international obligation in paying Malabu therefore government is not culpable”

This argument shows why President Jonathan will never be committed to a thorough fight against corruption. Now forget that the spokespersons and defenders of the presidency were only forced to admit that Malabu is an illegal company under Nigerian laws through continuous media [particularly Premium Times] revelation of the brute facts. Originally, they never did. Also note the equivocation. Instead of admitting that Malabu is an illegal company based on its history of registration, Aso Rock defenders say it is “dodgy”.

But the more important point is what this so-called defense implies. It implies that President Jonathan decided to violate Nigerian laws in order to carry out an international obligation! My simple point is that Mr. Adoke and President Jonathan were primarily hired by Nigerians to serve Nigeria. It is unacceptable to violate our laws under any guise. No self-respecting country does that. No self-respecting president does that. Literally, it boils down to President Jonathan and Mr. Adoke violating their citizens in order to serve others.

If state power can be deployed to unmask the Otedola/Lawan “dodgy” relation in a 620 million dollar “dodgy deal”, why could the same state power not be deployed to first unmask the “dodgy” Malabu before “carrying” out the “international obligation” in paying 120 billion Naira to a “dodgy” company owned by a convicted fraudster-Mr. Dan Etete?” In other words, under the watch of President Jonathan, Nigerian citizens were used by President Jonathan to facilitate the payment of 120 billion Naira to a “dodgy” company and an ex-convict,/a fraudster called Mr. Dan Etete.

The final defense is that Malabu scandal predated President Jonathan, and what is important is that we should move on.  On the contrary, the question is not merely that we should move on, the issue is HOW to move on. If Mr. Adoke and President Jonathan are “moving on” by violating our laws, it shows either that they have not moved on, or that they are “moving on” the Nigerian style by recycling and reproducing EXACTLY the corruption under Messers Sanni Abacha, Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo. 

In civilized environments, Mr. Adoke, our nation’s Attorney General, who is the chief architect of this violation would have been shown the way out of office. But who will when the Attorney General is in bed with President Jonathan and Mr. Dan Etete’s Malabu on this?

Adeolu Ademoyo is of the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.








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