A former commissioner for economic planning in Lagos State, Ben Akabueze, has reacted to allegations that his former boss and former governor Babatunde Fashola misappropriated 78m naira ($391,560) of public funds for the upgrade of a personal website.
Speaking to a Lagos TV channel Akabueze said: “I think that if he (Fashola) really wanted to steal money, it wouldn’t be N78m out of over 400bn naira that he had access to.”
This is a ludicrous defence at so many levels. Firstly, 78m is no small potatoes for anyone. Secondly, Fashola could not possibly steal all the money he had access to. Thirdly, the stealing of public funds is a process of diverting varying amounts over the term of office.
Fourthly, the suggestion that Fashola was a man of considerable means who couldn’t possibly demean himself by stealing 78m naira, is not supported by his financial situation before he came into government. He was said to be renting a flat in Lagos before his predecessor Bola Tinubu appointed Fashola his Chief of Staff.
Yinka Odumakin, the publicity secretary of Afenifere, a Yoruba cultural/political organisation, said in a statement in April this year: “Before Fashola can run his mouth against those who have been at the vanguard of the battle for federalism in Nigeria before he was born, we ask him to publicly declare his assets today against the Mercedes Benz 200 flat boot and Sagem handset which he brought to Alausa when Tinubu appointed him as Chief of Staff in 2002.”
Fashola may now be wealthy beyond the dreams of most Nigerians from looting public funds as we showed here. But Akabueze should not deceive anyone by suggesting 78m naira was beneath his former boss.