Lagos — In leadership lessons, one vital skill is the ability of a leader to take responsibility for his every action, whether it achieves success or failure.
John Fashanu, former footballer, may not have acquired this aspect of leadership, or so it seems. Recently, the ex-international squarely put the blame for his controversial 'Fashanu Report' on the media.
He said the claim that $6bn was allegedly fleeced from the country's coffers between 1988 and 1993 did not emanate from him, but was a mere media creation. He therefore apologized to the former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, whose junta supervised that period in Nigeria's history.
"There was never a time that I accused General Babangida over funds stacked away in any foreign land. It was just a media creation and I have personally apologized to him for the embarrassment it has caused him," Fashanu said.,
Continuing, he stressed, "I can say it again and again, that there was nothing like debt buy-back or any billions stacked away in any account anywhere. It was all a misrepresentation by the media world-wide, and it is rather unfortunate. I am sorry; we have not found any debt buy-back or any allegation at all. I have also apologized to her Excellency Maryam Babangida as well."
Many people are taken aback by what they describe as Fashanu's resort to the blame game. They still remember that Fashanu, in April 2000, had claimed to have names, dates and account numbers of those involved in the alleged debt buy-back scam.
However, the hollowness of his denials started becoming evident when recently he failed to show up at a Professor Bolaji Aluko-led Nigerian Democratic Movement (NDM)-organized public forum, where he was to confront Robert Minton on the controversial report. Incidentally, this was after repeated assurances from Fashanu and his agent, Robert Clarke, that he would be at the public forum to state his position.
Robert Minton, whom Fashanu had accused of serving as a front for the Federal Government, had accused him of being sponsored by Scientology organisation, a cult group Minton had brought into critical light.
Minton said: "Fashanu has been used by the Scientology organisation that considers me to be their greatest enemy in the world. There is no chance Fashanu investigated it on his own. His investigator is a full-time worker for Scientology. This is a vendetta on Scientology's part against me and they are using Fashanu and Nigeria as a tool to beat me on the head. That is the bottomline."
Whether these inconsistencies were the creation of the media or self-inflicted is a question only Fashanu himself can answer.
But there are Nigerians who suspect that he may have realized that he needs the powerful strings of the former military president to pull through some of his business or political ventures.
They allege that Fashanu is not new to using propaganda as a way of survival, and point to his role in the controversial One Million-Man March campaign organised for the transmutation of the late General Sani Abacha into a civilian presidential candidate, to buttress their point.
Emeka Nwata, Lagos-based legal practitioner, is among those who consider Fashanu's recapitulation as unfortunate. "It did not surprise me because it is typical of Nigerians to deny what they have said and heap the blame on the media," Nwata said. "I have every good reason to believe that what the media wrote was what he said. Coming back now to deny it is quite unfortunate and lamentable."
Fashanu was born on September 18, 1962 in Kensington, London, and commenced his football career at Norwich City in 1979.