Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The transformation of an ice-cream vendor – By Louis Odion, FNGE

By on 18:04
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Goodluck and Patience Jonathan

If additional exhibit was needed to prove that ex-President Jonathan's so-called "transformation agenda" was more about filling the pockets of a select few than fixing the country, the ongoing unraveling of his wife's closet should suffice.

At the last count, bank accounts bearing more than $22m cash have been traced to Mrs. Patience Jonathan, the mercurial First Lady whose biggest contributions to nation-building (?) would undoubtedly include the corruption of English language itself.
Her signature tune: "This blood that you people are sharing (shedding), diaris God o!"
While the nation would seem busy all the while laughing itself to stupor at Mrs. Jonathan's grammatical infelicities, emerging reports however suggest she was quietly smiling to the bank with sacks and sacks of dollars.

Louis Odion

In what should open a new chapter in larceny, the immediate past First Lady and self-proclaimed "Mama Peace" had allegedly opened two accounts with Skye Bank with $15m in the names of her houseboy and driver even though she remained the sole signatory to both and sole beneficiary of the wealth therein. To say nothing of another wondrous N10b hotel resort in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, which was inaugurated in April 2015, barely five weeks to her husband's ignominious exit from office.
Dazed by the sheer grandeur of the hospitality paradise named Aridolf Resort Wellness and Spa, not even the upscale London Financial Times could conceal its own adulation after the commissioning. Its most flattering description: "The (hotel) is an unlikely monument to kitsch... In the lobby, Louis XIV furniture is accompanied by bowls of plastic fruit, faux Dutch landscapes and a grotesquely gaudy chandelier.
"The Aridolf... is symptomatic of how superficial progress has been in addressing the festering sense of marginalization in the region, which remains desperately impoverished despite benefiting from a tide of petrodollars in recent years."

But in truth, the Aridolf could not have been captured in the asset declaration form filled by Mrs. Jonathan either in 2007 or 2011. Regardless of the effrontery of hack writers to rehabilitate history while the Jonathans were in power, no one could deny that Patience started life in the humblest of circumstances in Port Harcourt. For a woman who started married life as ice-cream vendor in the garden city of Port Harcourt, hers must now go down as one of the most dramatic flights from abject penury to staggering opulence in recent memory.
Patience Jonathan
Before her husband's foray in public life, her last known official address was the Bayelsa civil service. (In an unprecedented act of sycophancy, Governor Seriake Dickson would at some point breach all known rules by promoting her Perm Secretary in the Bayelsa civil service in absentia while she was First Lady).

Even if she did not touch her pay cheques all her working life, there is no way all her savings could have paid for even the sand-filling of the swamp where Aridolf is erected. So, the puzzle: how much gold or barrels of crude oil did she sell to come by the hotel? As First Lady, one malfeasance she was often accused of was merchandising access to her husband. Could Aridolf possibly be part of the proceeds of that racket?
Patience Jonathan sharing a toast with her boy, Waripamo Osei Dudafa as Preye his wife looks on
Ever so forthright, Mama Peace did not deny ownership of the fat Skye bank accounts. On the contrary, she, without shame or fear of God or man, has slammed a N200m suit on her bankers for, according to her, divulging the details of what she assumed was a confidential banking relationship.
Audacious still, she blamed the "mix-up" of her name with those of her aforementioned domestic aides on the bank. But she conveniently chose to be silent on how she continued to service and draw on the accounts without her BVN in consonant with the rule imposed when her husband was president.
If nothing at all, the unraveling of Mrs. Jonathan also clearly speaks to the complicity of the regulatory authority. Holders of small accounts could be excused. But it is quite indefensible that Skye Bank incubated Patience's multi-billionaire travesty for so long until the bubble burst. To the public, banks often make a song and dance of "know your customer" engagements. How come a driver and a houseboy fronted for the First Lady in her accounts for so long without any alarm bell ringing anywhere? Whose thumbprint was taken or passport photograph entered? Each time a demand was made on the accounts, were the picture, signature and thumbprint cross-matched?And now the most cynical emotional blackmail - Patience's publicists are saying that the bulk of close to $1m she raked up on her VISA Platinum Credit Card was on medicare abroad. But, pray, whatever happened to the endless list of hospitals often touted on NTA those days as "transformed" to glittering centers of medical excellence under Jonathan? Are we now to believe it was all lies to also swindle the nation?
Ibrahim Magu, EFCC Boss
In the early days of the Yar'Adua administration, the story is often told of how Jonathan was thoroughly "marginalized" as Vice President, practically left with little or nothing to "eat".  Then, the usually caustic Patience was said to have famously lamented: "All they leave my husband to do in office is reading newspapers."
By going on a binge after Jonathan providentially ascended the throne as president in May 2010, perhaps Mama Peace was only trying to make up for the deprivation of those early days.
Goodluck Jonathan
Wherever she campaigned for PDP last year, she never tired to say her husband must retain the presidential seat because "I don't want to be carrying food to my husband in prison o". (An poignant innuendo at Buhari's penchant for slamming long jail terms on politicians perceived to be corrupt in his first incarnation as military law-giver).
Now, with the torrents of filth cascading from her closet, we can only join Mama Peace in prayers that her worst fear doesn't become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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