In the face of the many disturbances and crises that have been confronting the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan of late, he may yet need to contend with another bitter one which has just reared its head like a hydra-headed monster.
This time around, the disquiet is coming from within his cabinet and has to do with two ministers who hold very powerful and influential portfolios. The ministers are those of Trade and Industries Dr. Olusegun Aganga, and Finance, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The two, according to very reliable sources from within the presidency, have been in a running battle over an alleged discovery by Okonjo-Iweala, which was very shocking and of monumental financial impropriety, being laid at the door step of Aganga, the Trade and Industries minister.
Those in the know, say that Okonjo-Iweala, in her present capacity as the finance minister discovered to her astonishment that Aganga, while he was Finance Minister, had signed an agreement with one business concern, known as Alpha Beta, a tax collection firm said to be purportedly owned by a former governor of Lagos state and chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu. The agreement, it was discovered by Okonjo-Iweala was for Alpha Beta to solely be in charge of collection of taxes and levies at all Nigerian ports, a deal which was said to be worth several billions of Naira in terms of concession.
The disvoery was said to have shaken Okonjo-Iweala to her marrow, and pronto she summarily reported her findings to the president, who in turn was very bitter and vexed over the matter as perpetrated by Aganga.
Without any intimation of Aganga for explanation, the contract was terminated with immediate effect and automatic alacrity, thus setting the stage for a tug of war between Aganga and Iweala.
Meanwhile, since the discovery and the sudden termination of the contract, many tongues have been wagging over the rationale behind the award of such a very complex and sensitive contract to a person of Tinubu’s ilk, who is openly known to bean avowed opposition leader to the Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government. Thus, in the festering face-off, a group bent on reproaching Aganga for such a misdemeanor, and as a way of vendetta, Lagos Coalition of Lagos Indigenes, went to work from all fronts to nail Aganga. First they claimed that it leaked to them through a privileged source that Aganga is actually not a Lagos indigene as he is being made to be, and that he is actually from Sabon-Gida-Ora in Edo state. They argued that it was on the strength of this that a calculated move was made by Tinubu to get Aganga an authentic certificate of origin from Ketu in Lagos state, to validate his claimed origin of Lagos State. Tinubu, it was averred by the group, even went further to instruct all the three senators from Lagos to thrown their weight behind Aganga thereby helping him to scale the seemingly insurmountable hurdle at the senate screening of the ministerial nominees, which Aganga eventually passed overwhelmingly. Feeling outsmarted by Tinubu and his co-horts over the development, the Coalition members became more determined, and as their Plan B, they have already prepared an accusation of perjury case against Aganga over indigenization nay fake certificate of origin said to have been swiftly facilitated by Tinubu in his crooked mission. The perjury case is still awaiting mentioning at the appropriate court of law and may commerce soon, as soon as the group completes its compilations.
Conversely, on the side of the Aganga caucus, they have also sworn to have their own on Okonjo-Iweala, on the strength of an alleged atrocity and impropriety surrounding a huge contract her ministry was supposed to have carried out long before the outbreak of the fuel subsidy removal saga which enveloped the country, and which momentarily overtook some other issues of national concern because of its urgency and intensity. How do we mean?
Inside sources within the Aganga caucus explained that the purported contract was meant to be a survey across the country to sample opinion, thinking and expectations of the fuel subsidy removal. They alleged that the contract was dubiously awarded to a company said to be a proxy of Dr. (Mrs) Okonjo-Iweal and that substantial amount of money has already been paid as mobile station fee and other incidentals before the crisis ballooned.
Beyond all these accusations and counter-accusations, another interesting dimension was brought into the whole nauseating development. As it stands, it is being bandied by some Aganga antagonists are pushing that while Jonathan and his finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are trying to drastically reduce the huge cost of governance, Aganga is brazenly increase his own spending via the running of his new ministry, Trade and Industries. They claimed that recently Aganga appointed for himself anew Special Adviser to add to his already bloated number of Special Advisers and Assistants. The new S.A., with the acronym T.A., it was gathered, was once alleged to have paraded himself as an Harvard graduate, when in actual fact, it is his wife who attended the prestigious Harvard University in USA. This and many more are some of the inadequacies and imperfections which Aganga is believed to be perpetrating in office and it appears no one is looking in that direction, just as that of the finance minister, of which no issue has been made till date.
For now, no one knows exactly where the loyalty of Aganga lies; whether it is to the CAN, as he has severally been enjoying the patronage and subtle supports of its leader(s), or whether to the President, who appointed him as minister in the first place.
The inference here is that Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Dr. Olusegun Aganga are at daggers drawn, albeit artfully and craftily, the attendant intrigues and effects continue to have its toll on the president as he appears its sensitive and political nature. President Jonathan sure has a lot to grapple with in the months to come even as the incidences of insecurity, Boko Haram menace, fuel subsidy removal brouhaha, other internal wrangling and many more. How he is planning to overcome all these vicissitudes is what is confounding many and Nigerians are waiting.