Jean Eyeghe Ndong
Former Prime Minister of Gabon
- PRESS RELEASE -
Libreville, Gabon, August 29, 2014.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
Ladies and gentlemen in your various qualities,
Thank you for being available and to have responded favorably to my invitation today.
My invitation is in the context of the democratic life of our country, as enshrined by the Preamble and the first article of our Constitution.
This Constitution, any Gabonese of good faith and common sense understands it perfectly: its formulation excludes any action and any behavior similar to the opacity in the management of public affairs. Which, as a result, returns to the need and requirement for us all, of transparency in the management of the public affairs, in other words the State affairs, that is to say, that thing which legitimately are in the interest, in one way or another, of all Gabonese.
The State (i.e., government), for which, modestly but firmly, I have always fought for its respect while I was in business, not without observing however that some compatriots viewed me a little in this regard as tacky. But where are we today?
I talk about the management of public affairs (governance) among which ranks high Justice, sector of the government that is getting lot of attention right now, wrongly perhaps, but certainly from my point of view, rightly so.
“Good governance, financial investigations, the psychosis is touching politicians” and “who has managed the rotating celebrations”, those are the titles of two articles that the newspaper the Union No. 11613 of the Tuesday, August 26, 2014 has devoted to what is one of the highlights of the news in the cottages and plush villas of nice neighborhoods. As a faithful reader of this daily, I thank them for that.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I guess you are wondering where I am going with this. You are quite right.
Well do you know that I am the subject of two judgments of the Court of Auditors (Court des Comptes) pursuant to which I am declared, yes provisionally, responsible of of two large sums of money that I have (allegedly) received from the public Treasury in my capacity as Chairman of the Committee of the «Rotating Celebrations» for the province of Estuaire? And that, having received these funds, I have executed no expenditure of public interest. In other words, according to my understanding, I would have used these public funds for personal purposes.
These funds are respectively according to the Court of Auditors to 1 billion 300 million CFA francs (about 2.6 millions USD) on the one hand, to 97 billion CFA francs (about 192.2 millions USD) on the other.
I am, therefore, enjoined by the Court of Auditors to produce within a period of three months, from the date of notification of these judgments, the management accounts of fact encompassing all the operations carried out duly certified and signed, supported by documents of justification.
That is the judicial information concerning me and which has led me to invite you today.
An information that I judge very serious given the particularly important sums of money that I would have received from the public Treasury, aimed to be used in the implementation of projects selected in the framework of the celebrations of Gabon’s Independence Day, hereinafter referred as «Rotating Celebrations».
In the comprehension of the common person, the «Gabonese lambda», I would have diverted public money, that is to say, the Gabonese taxpayers’ money for personal purposes. A charge referred to as «intuiti personae».
I therefore felt it would be useful for the sake of transparency to inform the opinion by noting that the high financial jurisdiction, the Court of Auditors, did not consider it necessary to hear me previously before taking its judgments. Which means for me that it has obtained and brought together all the elements of information that would have helped to make such a judgement.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As any citizen accused in a legal case, having received notification of these two judgments, I have contacted a lawyer who has replied back to the Court of Auditors as required by legal procedures, with a response to express my surprise and simply let the Court of Auditors know that I am totally innocence to such accusations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since I assume that justice is independent and impartial, it is thus transparent. Since it is transparent, it must thus be exercised without any opacity. As well, in respect of public funds, in other words the public money that I would have received from the public Treasury, the Gabonese taxpayers should be informed because it is their money. That is why, I put the matter on the public square in asking the sovereign people on whose behalf the justice is rendered, either of nailing me to pillory, either washing myself from any suspicion.
That said, certainly I have been appointed Chairman of the Committee of the «rotating celebrations» of the province of the Estuary, it is important to indicate that this designation has not been pronounced by a regulatory act, that is to say that the Head of State which took the initiative has not taken an action of legal matter to this effect. This allows me to say that it was a function purely ceremonial justified by the fact that as Prime Minister at the time, I was the first political personality of the province of Estuaire in the way of the precedence, province where I am from. It is the practice in our country.
My functions as President of the Committee of the «rotating celebrations» of the province of Estuaire were limited to preside over the meetings of the political personalities, members of the government, parliamentarians and mayors originating in and function in the province of Estuaire, and on the occasion of which these personalities were decaying infrastructure projects selected in their respective communities. Following these meetings, these personalities were put in relation with the departments of Public Works, finance and business bidders in view of the tendering procedures conform to the Code of public procurement.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If we are in the strict domain of the right and if with the independence, impartiality, neutrality, transparency, which are the foundations of the judicial system, therefore of the Court of Auditors, permit me, without trying to offend the distinguished judges of the financial order, questioning myself aloud: since, according to the two judgments of the Court of Auditors I have received public funds from the public Treasury, in a state of law as ours, what are the official procedures of legislative and regulatory nature to obtain money from the public treasury? In other words, what is traceability?
On the basis of the audits carried out by the Court of Auditors from 2007 to 2013, as regards to the management of the funds made available by the public Treasury and to be used in the implementation of projects selected in the framework of the celebrations of Gabon’s independence day hereinafter referred «Rotating Celebrations», the Court of Auditors stated in its two judgments that I have received the sums of one billion and three hundred million, and ninety-seven billion (of CFA francs), without having made an expenditure of public interest.
For the province of Estuaire that hosted the «Rotating Celebrations» in 2006 and 2007, to my knowledge the projects selected in this framework have been recorded in the laws of finance of these two years as follows:
-Roadworks services of Libreville and departments: 15,000,000,000 cfa francs;
-Other works: 5,000,000,000 cfa francs;
-Construction and equipment of various school buildings: 10,000,000,000 cfa francs;
-Construction and equipment for sanitary buildings: 10,000,000,000 cfa francs;
-Rehabilitation of various networks: 5,000,000,000 cfa francs;
-Water system and rural electrification: 5,000,000,000 F cfa ;
TOTAL : 50,000,000,000 CFA francs (about 100 millions USD).
For the two exercises, we are at one hundred billion CFA francs. Which logically means that I am supposed to have distracted from these hundred billion the sum of ninety-eight billion three hundred million CFA francs.
The Act no.11/94 of September 17, 1994 laying down the organization, the composition, the skills, the operation and the rules of procedure of the Court of Auditors stipulates in its article 58 that “the adversarial procedure is guaranteed by the rule of double order which asks the Court of Auditors to decide by provisional successively order, and then final, and by the faculty which is offered to it to communicate all or part of the report of instruction to the litigant and to any interested person who must respond. “
In order for me to respond to the Court of Auditors in the required time on the basis of article 58 above, it should be put at my disposal:
-the reports of the audits on the «rotating celebrations» of 2006 and 2007 carried out by the Court of Auditors that have helped make this judgment on a provisional basis;
-the receipts or other accounting documents attesting the payments of these amounts to Jean Eyéghé Ndong or to a legal person which he had the management as well as the identity of the payer party ;
-the references of the bank accounts of Jean Eyéghé Ndong or of the legal person having received these amounts.
Similarly, on the basis of article 57 of the same act, I request the Court of Auditors to hear in the capacity of a witness:
-the minister in charge of the Budget in 2006 and 2007 in his capacity of chief authorizing officer of the budget of the State;
-the director general of the Budget in 2006 and 2007 in its quality of authorizing officer by delegation of the budget of the State;
-the Treasurer Paymaster General in 2006 and 2007 in his capacity of chief accounting officer of the State budget.
These personalities are still in life.
Each of these witnesses will attest to this that I have received or not the sum of money relative to the realization of the projects in the context of «Rotating Celebrations». They must also declare to the Court of Auditors the destination of the one hundred billion CFA francs of budgetary allocation assigned to the implementation of the development projects in the framework of «Rotating Celebrations» of 2006 and 2007 in Estuaire.
May I add that as a public servant, under the «Rotating Celebrations», because I have never interfered in the handling of public funds, I have never been able to make myself author de facto of management within the meaning of the decree no. 0653/PR/MBCPFPRE of April 13, 2011, relating to the liability regime of the authorizing officers and public accountants. This means that I have never played under the «rotating celebrations» the role nor of authorizing officer or public accountant. I would not bother you in referring to the case of a financial authority that we could put in place for the needs of a specific management. In this case, the administration anticipates a public accountant and an authorizing officer. However, this is not in this mode that the funds of the «Rotating Celebrations» have been managed. Without any intention to give lessons, I believe the Court of Auditors should therefore conduct investigations to know the operating mode (procedures) to get money out of the public Treasury.
This legal, judicial and accounting component being said, I am taking the opportunity to analyze a little bit this matter politically.
I begin by recalling that since 2009, Gabon has been experiencing a serious political crisis because of the electoral coup perpetrated that year during the presidential election. Everyone knows this, starting with its perpetrators. Clearly, it is the legitimacy at the highest level of power that is the main issue here. On June 16, 2009, the day after the death of President Omar Bongo Ondimba, during his funeral, my official message to Gabon was very clear. I still stand by it today especially as nothing, absolutely nothing, will convince me otherwise. Those who have believed that I was wrong and even in treachery and who are in power today have their consciousness to deal with. I have mine with me also. Only, the history with a capital H we will judge us, and will know on which side to place the supporters of those who have engaged themselves in what I consider to be the lowering of our country in terms of republican and democratic values, and those who have resolutely chosen the path to the dignity of Gabon and Gabonese. I am pleased and proud that, from this point of view, we are hundreds of thousands of Gabonese.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to say this: the Gabon is an association of Gabonese citizens, do not forget that. His executive board is the State (i.e. the government). This government is responsible for managing the general interest and not the partisan interests of the few at the expense of the others; this government is responsible to avoid dividing the children of Gabon whatever their political differences expressed within the democratic framework enshrined in our fundamental law. The holders of State power and of the public administration do not have the right to blackmail other citizens or use threats for the conservation of power.
Unfortunately, here we are, and we are all going through it everyday; the proof is that I am here before you today to explain myself on a case fabricated simply because the political power, considerably hampered to the creaks of the fact of his original sin, the illegitimacy, chooses the strategy of diversion and disinformation, and count on the media time which in fact puts the suspicion on people unfairly implicated in the management of public funds in general and of public funds relating to «Rotating Celebrations» in particular, and thus to divert the attention of the public opinion of the reality that the country is experiencing at the example of the real financial scandals which are corrupting and continue to gangrene it.
My heritage since the beginning of my public career can be scrutinized and it will reveal that the «pédégiste» (as they call members of the ruling party PDG) that I was, and the determined opponent of the regime that I became, hides no fortune nor in Gabon or abroad. Is this the case for our «lecturers»? Do we truly want to open the Pandora’s box with the hope to smear opponents, some of whom having courageously decided, and rightly so, to leave the PDG boat or to resign from the government in 2009 to avoid being accomplices in the maneuvers and conspiracies which hatched between personalities who were taking advantage of their positions in the government apparatus. For example, the conspiracy on the same day of the swearing in of Mrs Rose ROGOMBE (as interim President) consisting of implementing the plan of the dismissal of the Prime Minister and the project of replacing him by his grandson on the pretext that they belong to the same natural family.
For my part, I have served the country at a high level. Therefore, I must in principle hold my tongue in relation to matters of which I had knowledge of at the time or because of the exercise of my duties. But if I am forced to untie it, watch out for damage for all those who, in search of popular legitimacy, have unfortunately chosen to explode the Republic. This Republic, not to say this State, I am familiar with to have served at the top level. Do you want me to open a few of these drawers at the risk of splashing more than one. Watch out!
To refer again to the «rotating celebrations», can some still remembers, as in the National Assembly, at a session of oral questions to the government, I had said that the President of the Republic would benefit from surrounding himself with fifteen experts to identify infrastructure projects which seemed indicated to him and useful for each province, and ensure their implementation? I still remember, as if it was yesterday, the curious replica that has been made to me in the chamber that day: “you do not have a lesson to give to the Head of State”. And yet at the time, there was already the problem of diversion of funds earmarked for the «rotating celebrations». A little later, the International Monetary Fund sent a report on the «rotating celebrations» uncovering inefficiencies in public spending. It was a «brulot».
Still on the «rotating celebrations», the Prime Minister that I was has not forgotten that a portion of public funds earmarked for this purpose ended up in a local private bank; certainly not my initiative, since I was neither authorizing officer or public accountant.
Gabonese, I am convinced, have enough to mind the bad relations some Gabonese have with money and are questioning private property paid by taxpayers, located in Paris and London. There are also personal aircraft and luxury cars. The same Gabonese have also been able to observe coincidentally the departure from office of the Treasurer Payer General, the Minister of the Economy and of the Minister of the Budget after they made a financial transaction yet touted by the regime. In this regard, insiders of the financial community will remember that, in 2013, Gabon has contracted a bond on the international market for an amount of 750 billion CFA francs (about 1.5 billion USD of Eurobond). A portion of this amount was used to pay the previous loan maturities, that of 2007, the remaining 450 billion CFA francs has been paid on an account opened at the Central Bank. This money which was intended to finance the 2013 budget, since the bond was registered for budgetary resources, has never been made available to the public Treasury for the payment of the expenses of the budget. What is the explanation? That is a question which must be asked and to which must be answered by those running the State or government of Gabon.
Those of you who have chosen to support Ali Bongo Ondimba and be the pillars of his regime, do you not see the Machiavellian game that your man is playing? The «legal smoke» of Ali Bongo Ondimba badly masks his willingness to get rid of all those who made him king against the will of the Gabonese people. Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba would wish to leave the dirty work to the Gabonese opposition, which is not fooled.
Ladies and gentlemen,
No one shall be immune from prosecution. Even a Head of State may have their immunity lifted by the will of the people.
In summary, the strategy of Ali Bongo Ondimba is known by all of us to achieve his objectives in 2016: raising legal actions like that ridiculous one of NGO Convergence, and introducing an amendment to the Constitution by inserting the age criterion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
By informing you that I have still the audit report on «Rotating Celebrations», I see three personalities cited therein; I would be happy to know if they have been the subject of a judgment of the Court of Auditors as well as me.
What are we talking about? The financial management of our country? Do we have the will and determination to clarify and shed lights on the management of public funds in practiced for decades to the present day? Or, they are mocking the Gabonese people, with the majority of them not knowing what we are really talking about.
No gentlemen! The sauce does not take, the bluffing either. The power must cease to present the opposition members as hungry, embittered or relics especially those who were stamped «PDG» and who left, certainly to do «useful work» and thus participate in cleaning up the public life. Moreover, it is to note that this attempt of «demonization» is counter-productive for the power within the population, it sought at any price to blacken personalities whose sin is to have said no to a political regime marked by lies.
A power which shines daily by escapades of any nature, which says that the opposition has no political project, does it not know that a responsible opposition does not disclose its strategies against an opponent. And what an opponent who is working to erase blithely the rare traces of history of our country as if it had accounts to settle to someone. For what reason for example was the conferences building (palace) of City of democracy shaved, for now housing official meetings in a tent? I am not sure that President Omar Bongo Ondimba would be proud. Why the hospital buildings «Jeanne Ebori» have disappeared from the landscape? Gabon is now truly looking like a territory under the authority of a blind caliph. But fortunately, the reason will inevitably overcome this blindness of an apprentice monarch of the tropics.
Who do they think they are misleading by pretending to trigger clumsily financial investigations in this country where examples of mismanagement come from the top. The opposition will not fall into the game of blackmail whose purpose is, by organizing and maintaining a permanent climate of threats in the country, to bring the leaders of the opposition to the fault in the eyes of their fellow citizens, but also in the eyes of the (international) partners of Gabon by using ridiculous statements on immoral behavior of past and present political leaders.
We can all face the legal system in Gabon: political leaders of the majority as of the opposition, civil servants and senior officials, elected officials, senators, ministers, Prime Ministers, Heads of institutions, President of the Republic. To all of them, I still ask these questions: are we willing to open the files of the unjust enrichment of one in this country? More trivially, are we determined to open the womb of our country?
If we have nothing to be ashamed of or to hide, so why do we refuse to hold a sovereign national conference or a similar event to examine the problem of ill-gotten gains for example. Call on Ms Eva JOLY to do this dirty work, she would respect the neutrality in her investigations. I take this opportunity to appeal to all our judges to patriotism, to the rejection of the «instrumentalization» or exploitation by the political power. Let’s stop this smoke-like talk which distract us from the real problem of democracy that we face in our country.
The real answers to events that occurred the day after the death of President Omar Bongo Ondimba have never been given. It would also require us to investigate the department of the Interior, the Cenap (i.e., the permanent national electoral board) and the Constitutional Court, about what happened during the presidential election of 2009.
The legislative electoral farce of December 2011, the issue of the biometrics never resolved, cynicism displayed by the power during the last local elections, particularly in Libreville where there has been pure and simple renewal of team PDG-CLR (two political parties of the presidential majority in power) which has already failed miserably in the management of the Gabonese capital city, are all ingredients that we should pay attention to.
Our role is decisive, that of all fellow Gabonese who also must not be afraid to invest in the struggle for democracy, justice and freedom in Gabon.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The silly chat on economic performances over the past five years without any real effect on the majority of the population is not enough to keep us silent on the inevitable question of the legitimacy of those in power in Gabon.
What about the garish social inequalities across the country between the urban proletariat and the ruling «plutocracy». The Gabonese must know that the social pact that is being sold to them now is not a discovery which deserves their applause because it is only in the logical extension of the social policy initiated by the government of Omar Bongo Ondimba, which I observed that the heirs want systematically shut down the work that is his. The announcement of the 250 billion (CFA francs) spending on welfare demonstrates amateurism and lightness in the strategy of fiscal policy of the government.
What about Education and Higher learning, the housing policy, road infrastructures on which big lies are uttered on the airwaves of Gabon Television. Similarly, the large project of the Marina with a particularly high cost that should have been subject to a notice of the Parliament or National Assembly during the budget planning, is found today faced with difficulties of all kinds in its realization.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If financial investigations and other charges on managing «Rotating Celebrations» are designed to weaken the leaders of the opposition, it is a waste of time because a new Front was formed within the opposition which represents the majority of Gabonese, who are not afraid to eventually take bullets of the regime in power; they should not let themselves be manipulated by speeches which play on ethnicity, an obscurantist way to retain power.
I therefore today make the «CALL OF NKEMBO» to everyone who has always supported me to share the philosophy of Front for the selection of a single candidate who can only be a true Gabonese, regardless of his/her provincial origins, in preparation of the presidential election of 2016.
Reminding you that, when it comes to the management of «Rotating celebrations» (of Gabon’s Independence Day), I am simply innocent.
Jean Eyeghe Ndong
Translated from french by Citoyen Libre Gabon