Flashback: The Amazing Wealth of Obasanjo

Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo: an open letter sent to South Africa

Obasanjo

By Ademola Adegbamigbe

As much as possible, influential politicians in Nigeria, like President Olusegun Obasanjo, would do all they could to avoid the nation’s bad roads. Travelling on those roads endanger their lives as well as those of their exotic automobiles. To get round the danger, Nigerian leaders prefer commuting by helicopters and make beelines from the comfort of their abodes in the capitals to the villages.

During one of such trips two years ago, Chief Obasanjo took Prince Bola Ajibola on his Presidential chopper for what looked like a war reconnaissance along Iseyin Road in the Oke Ogun area of Oyo State. He and Ajibola, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, have been friends from childhood. And in the recent past, he appointed Ajibola to oversee the implementation of the World Court verdict on Bakassi after which Nigeria ceded the oil-rich peninsula to Cameroun. They therefore, could afford to swap jokes.

As the helicopter hovered in the air, Obasanjo’s croaky voice sliced through the clattering of the machine’s propellers and the crackles of its radio communication facility. “Bola, look down to your left,” Obasanjo nudged his friend. “What can you see?” Prince Ajibola’s eyebrows arched in an attempt to lock his eyes on the direction and reacted that he could see nothing other than what looked like an evergreen forest. “Look properly, are your eyes failing you?” Obasanjo asked further.

Obasanjo then patiently revealed that what Ajibola saw were not trees haphazardly scattered by nature, but a carefully planned plantation of teak. The trees are like the cedars of Lebanon, valued for their usage as electric poles, export-earning and artificial regenerative potential. Ajibola interjected: “Segun! What are you doing with teak?”

Shrugging, Obasanjo replied: “For your information, there are over one million trees in that plantation,” adding that they were part of what would sustain him in retirement. He further revealed that his teak plantations are not only in Iseyin, but in other parts of the country where he also owns farms producing palm oil, rearing chickens, pigs and other things. “These are money-spinners,” Obasanjo said with satisfaction.

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Even as Obasanjo’s helicopter will take off from Abuja on 29 May (after handing over power to Umar Yar’Adua) and land at Navy Secondary School, Abeokuta, from where he would proceed for a reception organised for him by his Egba kinsmen, what he, his passengers and crew members will see will go beyond teak. They will have an opportunity to appraise the extent of work at his multi-billion naira Presidential Library, Hill Top mansion in Abeokuta, and his farm in Ota, Ogun State.

Apart from all these, however, President Obasanjo, in the view of critics, has other business interests that will not only sustain him during retirement, but will make him one of the world’s wealthiest statesmen. These span land ownership, farming, oil exploration, banking, hospitality business, a university and an ethanol factory among others.

Indeed, President Obasanjo is looking forward to his retirement, the rites of which will begin this week. Like in 1979 when the late General Mamman Vatsa, then Commander, Brigadier of Guards, accompanied Obasanjo back to Abeokuta from Dodan Barracks, Lagos, after handing over to the civilian government, headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Obasanjo will, on 29 May, also be given a rousing reception at Moshood Abiola Stadium in the Ogun State capital. On Sunday, 3 June, a thanksgiving service will be held for him at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Ake, Abeokuta. This will be followed by another reception at the Valley View Auditorium of the Government House in the city.

After these, he will relax and enjoy the fruits of his labour, or scheming, as the case may be. “I am going back to my farm,” President Obasanjo said on a Nigerian Television Authority phone-in programme. “But I am getting old and so I will not be able to run the farm hands-on,” he noted.

Established since 1978, Obasanjo’s farm has been producing fresh agricultural products for almost 30 years. According to Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Special Assistant to the President on Public Communications and now the Minister supervising the Aviation ministry, the President’s farm makes an average of N30 million a month or N360 million per year.

Click here to read the rest: www.thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2019/04/from-the-archives-the-amazing-wealth-of-obasanjo/