Tag Archives: Corruption

One On One Session With Atiku Abubakar

PEDULUM By Dele Momodu
Email: dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com

Fellow Nigerians, I’ve always wondered what drives or propels the man, former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. For real, I have never seen a man so fastidious about his dream and so obstinate about achieving a lifelong ambition to be the number one Nigerian Citizen. I’ve followed his trajectory with keen interest since 1993 when he took on both Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe, in an epic Presidential primary, that Chief Abiola ultimately won. His formidability we were told was a result of the influence of his godfather and political colossus, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, now of blessed memory. Chief Abiola actually reached out to the General, as he was fondly called, to prevail on Atiku to pull out of the race and support him. A deal was subsequently struck, between Abiola and Yar’Adua, for Atiku to be Abiola’s running-mate. Everything looked good on paper until the powerful and influential Social Democratic Party (SDP) Governors threw spanners in the works, forcing Abiola to renege on his word. Whilst Abiola wanted Atiku, the Governors led by the irrepressible Olusegun Osoba, from Abiola’s home State of Ogun, insisted on Abiola picking Kingibe. They convinced Abiola that it was dangerous to pick Atiku who would have been more loyal and too submissive to his godfather.

I have no doubt that from that moment onwards, the June 12 Presidential election was already threatened and endangered. According to insiders, the General was so miffed and enraged that he swore Abiola would not be President for dumping his godson. Efforts were made by different personages to settle the matter, but it seemed the camaraderie was over between Abiola and Yar’Adua who, once upon a time, were successful business partners at African Ocean Lines.

Anyway, Atiku was kicked out of the race to fight another day. Abiola won the Presidential election eventually but was never allowed to assume power. The June 12 election fallout led to a cataclysmic eruption that consumed many of the big players, including Abiola, his wife, Alhaja Kudirat, Major-General Yar’Adua and General Sani Abacha. The boss of bosses, General Olusegun Obasanjo, escaped only by the whiskers. He was jailed but came back to be President. Ironically, the same Atiku who was not allowed to be the Vice-Presidential candidate in 1993 became the substantive Vice President in 1999, when he ran, and won, with Obasanjo. Whilst Obasanjo emerged, in a bid to assuage the betrayed and wounded Yoruba, Atiku’s choice appears to have been predicated on the sense of injustice that he had suffered as a result of being dumped by Abiola.

Everything initially ran smoothly between Obasanjo and Atiku in their first term in office, from 1999 to 2003. However, the relationship collapsed when Atiku started showing interest in the number one position. I will not bore you with the rest of that fiasco, including the anecdotal humbling of Obasanjo who allegedly had to beg his deputy, Atiku, to allow him a second term. My mission was to provide some background to Atiku’s uncommon trajectory. He has pursued his dream since 1993 and has never given up. That was 24 years ago. Indeed, Atiku has been in partisan politics for 28 years but only served in government for eight years. He has criss-crossed different political parties in search of that magic wand that could give him his heart’s desire. It has been a painful journey. He’s been dissed and lampooned as a serial “decampee” famed for wandering endlessly in the wilderness of Nigerian politics. That, for many people, is a major weakness which signals integrity issues. There are other minuses weighing on him like an albatross. How does he deal with these very serious issues of perception or misperception?

The opportunity came for me to engage him very critically, and very privately, yesterday afternoon in Lagos. A mutual friend had called to arrange the meeting at Atiku’s behest. I gladly accepted not only as I was anxious to bombard him with many nagging questions, but also because by some quirk of fate, the political gladiators for the number one hot seat in Nigeria seem to feel that a session with me is a sine qua non for their aspiration. I’m deeply humbled by that trust.

The meeting was arranged for Lagos. Atiku had arrived on Thursday. I arrived in Lagos yesterday afternoon from Abuja where I had been the Chief Presenter of Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi’s book, On a Platter of Gold, chronicling President Goodluck Jonathan’s twilight days as President. I checked into my hotel just before 12 noon and put a call through to his room. He told me to give him a short time to freshen up and invite me over. He’s obviously been doing a lot of consultations and was working well into the early mornings. I dozed off. Suddenly, I was awoken from my slumber by banging on my door. I stood up to look through the peephole and was pleasantly surprised to see the most-talked about politician of the moment at my door. I opened the door and Atiku immediately apologised for the intrusion. He came without any aide, so we were both comfortable to talk frankly.

I thanked him for the honour of actually coming to me and asked if he won’t mind me asking some tough questions. He said that was fine and I should feel free. My first shot was about his moving from Party to Party. Does this not make him look desperate and unserious? He must have answered this question a thousand times because he wasted no time in answering very calmly and confidently:

“There is nothing wrong with it. Ours is a fledgling democracy of barely two decades since the end of the last military regime. What it means is that the political parties are yet to mature and are going through constant transformations and changes. That is why even President Buhari has been able to move from party to party, including ANPP, CPC and now APC. And for those who read about world history and political books like I do, they will know that Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill and others went through so much before achieving their dreams…”

He went further: “I’m not different. I know what I want for my country. I’ve served Nigeria in different capacities and I am one of the most experienced leaders around today. There is no part of Nigeria I’m not familiar with. I have friends everywhere. They know me and I know them. The benefit of being around for so long is that they have come to know me for certain principles and know that I have a rich knowledge of Nigeria and what it would take to move us to the height of greatness. They can also trust me that I’m not coming to government to steal their money. God has blessed me with business acumen. How can you run a nation if you cannot run your own business? I run my businesses to international standards. Let any of those who want to compete with me show what they have managed successfully. I’ve lifted over 45,000 families out of joblessness and poverty through my microfinance company in my State Adamawa and we’ve have empowered mostly women. The good news is these women have been very honest. Returns on our loans have been about 98 percent. They have not disappeared with the loans given then. We plan to replicate this nationwide…”

I asked if he was obsessed with being President at all costs. His answer was an emphatic, No! He asked rhetorically why he should not give back some of his experience and exposure to a country that has given him so much? Why should he allow incompetent people to run down the country when God has given him the talent and wherewithal to lift up Nigeria?

I told him the belief out there is that he is a corrupt man and that the stain won’t be easy to remove. His former boss, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has sold us that line, and would stop at nothing to regale the world that Atiku is a thief who nobody should vote for. Atiku’s response was very concise and assertive: “I have the highest regards for my boss. He gave me eight years to serve Nigeria under him. We had our differences but we both tried our best. But on the issue of corruption, I have challenged anyone, anywhere, who has any evidence of corruption against me to come forward. I’m sure they would have combed everywhere trying to find anything incriminating against me, but they have not found it, or they are still searching. Dele, I’m throwing that challenge again, let them bring out whatever they have on me…”

I followed with a bazooka and asked him “how come you are running away from the United States of America? What offence have you committed to warrant not being able to visit, since all this time?” Atiku fired back at me: “It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America. I applied, but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline me categorically either. They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process. This is not peculiar to me. For about 15 years, Buhari could not enter America on account of religious considerations. The current Indian Prime Minister, Modi, suffered the same fate for years. Today, he is being treated to red carpet treatment in America.. I fly to different parts of the world, including Europe, if America wanted me, it would be so easy for them to reach out to their allies…”

We soon dovetailed to the nitty-gritty of politics. Why did he not wait to contest the primaries in APC first and see the outcome before running away? I felt this was defeatist! His response: “After Buhari won the election, he was no longer interested in the Party that made him President. Every activity stopped and not even the Party Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, could take any decision. I called Chief Oyegun a few times to tell him our Party was dying slowly but he told me he would not do anything unless he got clearance from the President. At a stage, I gathered about 18 prominent members and began to meet in the hope that we can re-energise Party activities, but some people lied to the President that I wanted to use the forum to launch my Presidential campaign. That forum became simply dead on arrival. No BOT, no NEC meetings, as stipulated in our Constitution. The Party became a one-man property. Everyone grumbles behind the President’s back but they are too timid to raise a voice against the illegalities being perpetuated. I should be bold enough to know what I want, and can do so at my age, so I decided to leave…”

So, where is he going from here? He says he hasn’t formally declared for any Party, but is sure PDP is waiting to welcome him back into the Party he co-founded with others at the end of military rule. I asked if he has any guarantee of getting the PDP ticket. He told me why he should get it: “Nothing is absolutely certain in this life, but PDP needs a candidate with the brightest chance and that can only come from someone who has major experience, exposure, knowledge about running an economy, who is a Nationalist and not a sectionalist and whose brand cannot be intimidated in anyway by that of the current President. If PDP picks a weak candidate, then the Party is doomed. Some of those whose names are being touted and bandied about have not grown beyond their immediate domains.”

If he gets the PDP ticket, is he confident he can beat a sitting President and Buhari for that matter? “I will definitely beat him this time. He has wasted a lot of his massive goodwill. A lot of people are disgruntled but keeping quiet and lying low. Our youths are suffering terribly and now they are being sold into slavery. Everyone knows my track record of inviting and attracting a good team and giving them the opportunity to work professionally. Nigerians are tired of leaders who cannot think big and work big. Dele, I will be ready from day one…”

Is he not afraid of Buhari? “No, definitely not. Buhari is free to contest and I’m free to contest. And Nigerians will make their choice.” I could see that glow in his eyes. He sounded determined and more prepared at this time, than at any other time.

Will Atiku play a joker as his last card in 2019? Time will tell.

Advertisements

​OUR MANY TRAVAILS AND THE NEED TO CONSOLIDATE OUR DEMOCRACY

By: Moshood Muhammed

Generally speaking, the people constitutes mainly the element, admissible and permissible in democracy, the Nigerian system of government, with whom the decision of who becomes what, get what and at what time is taken and for.

With reference to the definition a former President of United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, participation of people, who are an indispensable element of government and leadership of a country, is believed to be non-negotiable. But, reverse is sharply the case in the issue of Nigeria, the most populous black-skinned people country in the world.

The rare magnanimity of the then military ruler and Head of State, Rtd. General Abubakar Salami saw Nigeria return to democratic rule in 1999 with Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo as the democratically elected President. After he exited office, Nigeria has successfully transferred power from one leader to the other and most recently, from a political party which Nigeria started with, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the now ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in a very peaceful and uncommon manner, alien to the African politicians and its many years of political sojourn. This remains one of the feats we have achieved as a country.

On return to democracy eighteen (18) years ago, expectations were high, no thanks to the ‘nightmares of military rule’ and having seen what democracy infers in other climes. Nigerians could not hide their joys when the Obasanjo administration came on board; many were promised with very infinitesimally done so far and nothing done in many cases, even by successive occupiers of the Aso Villa and other public positions in the yesteryears up till now.

Power supply has remained consistently out of supply in many homes, villages, cities and factories, forcing Nigerians to make darkness their neighbours, while many businesses went out of operation, with others relocating to neighbouring countries; education is yet to recover from the colossal damage done to its structural and administrative hitherto strong rooting. Same is the case with Agriculture, which was formally our source of national financial muscle depleting into a business of very few with little concentration from government, not until recent time. The list is endless.

As much as it incontrovertible that all is not so well, coupled with corruption fast becoming regalia of our political actors, it does not translate to the end of the road for the country. The country has despite the political upheavals that greeted the preparation for last general elections among other issues emerged, a united country, though with affray from some parts of the country.

As Nigerian democracy gets a year older, concerted efforts must be made by all in seeing the birth of the new and assuring country Nigerians would be proud of.
Now, the leadership of the country and government structures across board must be sanitized and made to work in the interest of the people, while the trademark of corruption on most political office holders is ‘confiscated’. Our leaders must be aware that if everyone who has at one point or the other occupied the office did not leave, they would never have the opportunity to get there.

Furthermore, the central government must not surrender in its struggle for a well respected country in Africa and beyond, flush out, in sincerity the demonic corruption tendencies, that has almost brought the country on its knees, out of the country; wipe out the inkling Boko Haram insurgence stint, rescue the remaining Chibok School girls, get back home Nigerians leaving like foreigners on the own soil, neighbouring countries. Also, our economy which somersaulted must also be revamped, with the diversification plan executed speedily while ensuring an enduring, stable and uninterrupted power supply to all nooks and crannies of the country. This will do doubt help recover our hailing economy and set us forthwith on the path to prosperity.

On the other hand, Nigerians must see The New Nigeria project as a collective assignment, on which the destiny of millions of our country men and women are tied to, and indeed that of many generations yet unborn. Should the war against corruption be won, proceeds recovered and ultimately pumped into the economy, Nigerians can be certain of a speedily developed country. Hence, everyone must resolve to join the campaign, reject proceeds of crime and never be involved corruption. Charity they say begins at home.

Similarly, our parents, families, religious leaders, teachers and schools must note that they are either partner in crime or partner in progress, depending on what they make of the flock in their care. There is therefore a great need to have them support government and by far, the popular view, rid the country of many rots she has found herself in. This implies that the song of anti corruption, transparency, accountability, hard work and perseverance should be continuous on their lips.

The truth is, should we fail to augment our resolution for the ‘hell-lots’, vent our displeasure with the widely affirmed abysmal state of things, by participating meaningfully in the affairs of the country, our complaints would be mere noise. In other words, our political affairs, call for accountability, responsive and responsible government should not be left in the hands of politicians and the acclaimed ‘opposition’ parties, we must all make Nigeria work for our good. The rumoured military take-over is not and will never be in the interest of majority of Nigerians. As such, we must all defend our democracy and make it stronger.

Though, all may not be rosy for us as a country, it is never a time to give up; our participation in governance should be strong, defiant of oppression tendencies of any public office holder, bad governance, misrepresentation among others, like never before. Surely, we would get there.

If you are not participating, it is not making sense. #Standwith9ja

God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria

BANKS ON ROADS

By: Adekunle Adewunmi

Prior to this age, virtues such as sanctity, honesty, contentment and uncoveteousness were the order of the day. Scarcely did reports fly of theft. No ears heard for long the cry of inconvenience from the struggling masses. All appeared like it was well!

Banks are known to be registered with the Central Bank before any operation can begin. The management also recruits different staffs in order to make transactions an easy-to-do job for the benefit of both parties. But, deposits are not only made, cash withdrawals are also part of the transactions possible at banks. Simply put, deposits and withdrawals are allowed in banks. Suffice is to say here that the people don’t deposit in banks by being coerced.

Nowadays however, unofficial banks are being mounted and operated on the highways which birth the illegal collection of money, forcefully deposited to these unofficial bank operators without a strain of empathyfor the state of the pockets they hijack. This brash phenomenon ushers in a sigh of painful enquiries. Why have they chosen to fool us? Who are they even fooling? Those who make life not worth living and inconvenient to their fellow humans keep spitting untrue words at us that they are friends of the citizenry.

Alas, Nigerians are now enlightened, the dark ages are over, the light has come!

Governments emerge, their time elapse, yet, there’s nothing to show for the many years of their stewardship. All centers on the looting of state treasury, which involves squandering of national funds, only to leave the hopeless electorate in a sorry state of reproach. As if that isn’t enough, human-banks are now being mounted at roads where they are fearfully beheld askings of the terrain in which they become unquestionable beasts that devour anyone who fails to ‘cooperate’ and tender daily deposits into their sacred pouches. Some have evengone from collecting daily deposits to levying dues per hour.

This act has gone rampant to the extent that the ordinary man’s business will almost always encounter rude disruption by these armed men. On the sight of a vehicle loaded with food, things fall apart within their skulls; and all schemes veer towards hijacking the burdened hulk from its navigator, even if it hasn’t been smuggled in from another country.

Those Forces in khaki and black clothes, who are instructed to safeguard the properties and lives have been found, countless times, exploiting and endangering the very properties and lives they were sworn to protect. Safety of the masses is now in the hands of bullies who, of course, strangle the people’s way of survival for their selfish gains. The salaries and allowances being paid them by the government for their works are being kept only to keep extorting the ordinary drivers on the highways; individuals who have chosen to find succour in the stressful jobsthey have taken as a profession.

Many of these drivers, who are the victims of callous highway extortions, go into commercial driving because they want nothing but the best for their families; their children in particular. Some of them overwork themselves even till midnight in order to pay the tuition fees of their children in higher institutions. Still, some locusts would seem to appear from the mirage and cut their monies short. It is possible that, by the ripple effect of such a condition, much mishap is caused. Some children of these commercial drivers might even end up being dropped from school due to not meeting up their payment deadlines.

A voyage to a town in Oyo State, Igbo-Ora to be precise, which is known to be the land most populated with twins revealed the ordeals commercial vehicles drivers go through when they set out for their daily businesses and the level of unnecessary pains inflicted daily on them by these road-bankers. It was so astonishing but head-aching to find the Forces at road sides almost within a two-minute drive interval, demanding for daily deposits otherwise known as “rabba or bribe”. Any commercial driver who tries to argue with them may meet his waterloo and get roped with different offenses that cannot be found in the statute of vehicle movement. The predatory logic is that by the time they cause passengers to be delayed and complaints spill from the driver’s customers, he’ll be forced to pay even more than he would have paid if he had not struggled with the Forces.

A personal encounter with one of the commercial drivers who makes his daily living on the route further exposed the high rate of wickedness leveled against them on a daily basis. He posited that if he was opportune to own any charm, he would have used it on “those wicked government security officials” because he often returns home at night from the day’s toil with almost nothing to show for the sweat due to the problem faced with the soldiers and policemen.

Without mincing words, this shows frustration, pain, and anger, which may result in rebellion and trouble against the Forces if the government does not find a lasting solution to halt the evil activities of these thieves.

Apparently, they operate this way almost everywhere since they believe they can’t be checkmated by anyone. Little surprise is to hear that these Forces build gigantic edifices and live big. President Muhammadu Buhari should try to start looking into the bank accounts of individual Force members so as to see clearly the billions of naira they have therein stolen and forcefully collected from struggling drivers.

Banks mounted on roads should hereby be destroyed so that sanity, freedom, and welfare should become the order of the day!