Fellow Nigerians, I’m sure this must have been a very interesting week for you like it has been for me. I spent the first few days attending the Inauguration ceremony for the brand new President of the Republic of Liberia, former World Footballer, George Opong Weah and his Vice President, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor. I must say I was greatly inspired by what I saw in Liberia, a country which is like another home for me. About ten years ago, I received one of the greatest honours in the country when I was “gowned” and made a Chief with the powerful title, The Kiazolu of The Grand Cape Mount County. I’m eternally grateful to the Council of Traditional Chiefs of Liberia for such privilege. Interestingly, one of the dignitaries at my “gowning ceremony” then is now the new Vice President, Senator Jewel Taylor.
I met many African leaders in Monronvia, including Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, former Presidents, Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama. Of course, our one and only indefatigable President Emeritus, General Olusegun Okikiolakan Aremu Obasanjo (Rtd.) was fully on ground. The Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and his wife, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, stayed in the same hotel with the Ovation team which included the Editor, Michael Effiong. Naturally, the Boulevard Palace Hotel, where we stayed, became a Mecca of sorts. It was the place everyone wanted to be accommodated in but this was well nigh impossible.
It was while in Monrovia, that I read former President Obasanjo’s bazooka of a letter to our dear President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.), and the impact and reverberation of what can almost be described as an atomic bomb is still being felt at home and even in far flung places. The letter did not come as a total surprise to some of us. It was in fact long awaited and sooner expected. Baba’s letter was much more longer and extremely detailed than the one I wrote to President Buhari about three weeks earlier, but we shared some things in common. The verdict out there on the streets is that the ruling Party, APC, has performed far below expectations and cannot, and should not, in good conscience, seek another term in office, under the current leadership of President Buhari. The other major challenge for the President has been his health which became very worrisome for several months last year. Miraculously, the President resurrected and returned triumphantly to power after some of his vociferous critics had written him off. But what is not known, is if he has enough stamina to cope with the rigours of running a country as complex and complicated as Nigeria, never mind the rigorous campaigning that must precede an attempt at a second term. Obasanjo amplified this particular issue, repeatedly, in his latest missive. The long and short of the matter is that Obasanjo believes that Buhari should not contest again.
Many have argued that it is undemocratic to ask Buhari not to contest when the Nigerian Constitution expressly allows him. But there is no big deal if the same people that supported him in the past are now advising him to save himself from the stress of campaigning again. The advice can easily be ignored since it is not enforceable. Let me confess that I thoroughly enjoyed Obasanjo’s letter. Wow, if Baba was not a soldier, he would have been a journalist. I’m not surprised that he is an accomplished author to boot.
But as much as I enjoyed this letter, which I’ve read repeatedly since it was released, I’m not so sure about Baba’s thesis, or hypothesis, on the issue of a third force.
I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria truly requires a serious political Party with impeccable ideology. This was my dream in 2010, when I decided to join the Presidential race which I eventually contested in 2011. My idea was simply that Nigeria deserves better Parties than the ones on parade right now. I decided to join the Labour Party for that purpose. Little did I realise the naivety in that decision. First, I did not know that the Nigerian Labour Congress had no direct control or influence over the Labour Party. Just imagine a party with all Nigerian workers as bona fide and fee-paying members. This dream was truncated because no such thing existed and I had to try my luck elsewhere. I joined the National Conscience Party and won the Presidential Primary after a stiff contest. I eventually contested as a Presidential candidate in 2011 but lost resoundingly. But despite this loss, I gained two things, experience and exposure. It is based on that experience that I wish to plead with the conveners of the third force to be very careful.
Politics is a game of numbers and figures. It is not for the faint-hearted. I’m almost certain that no major force apart from PDP can sack Buhari and, or, APC from power next year. It is an established fact that only two dominant Parties are viable in most countries of the world. There are a few exceptions here and there, but they belong in the realm of magic and miracle. A quintessential example of how tough it is for a third force to emerge and succeed is Donald Trump who had to hijack the Republican Party in the United States to get a formidable ticket. I believe that it is too late in the day, with elections coming next year, to build a third Party, or movement, of force, or whatever to compete against APC or PDP.
I understand where Obasanjo’s problem lies. He can neither join APC nor PDP now. Both political Parties currently harbour some of his sworn enemies, or people he doesn’t fancy at all. If he would have any influence or relevance, he would have to seek and work with other Parties except those two. But I must sound a note of caution urgently. As much as I’m not a fan of PDP, I don’t see any other Party that can unseat APC right now, unless that Party addresses all its internal conflicts and presents a united front. Truth hurts but we must swallow that bitter pill. If Baba has virtually foreclosed Buhari coming back next year, he must be ready to accept whatever or whoever PDP throws up. It is not possible to eat your cake and still have it. Nigeria has finally reached a cul-de-sac so soon again after the exit of PDP.
It is important to note that most of the names being bandied as potential aspirants and candidates are not likely to be able to tackle Buhari readily and easily. PDP would have to get its act together. Over-ambitious members would have to bury their vaunting ambitions and make the huge sacrifice to rescue Nigeria by seeking the best candidates at all levels. APC can also spring a surprise by dropping Buhari peacefully and give their ticket to any of the younger and cerebral elements. The job of the President these days cannot be treated as business as usual. No country, least of all a developing one, can afford to run on cruise control or auto pilot. That is more or less how we have operated these past years. The President of Africa’s greatest country must be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with world leaders and speak their language, discuss business, talk foreign affairs, understand diplomacy, and so on. Exchanging the baton of backwardness every four-years can no longer work to our advantage. Nigeria is too big to be handled and handed to those without requisite preparation for the new world order.
I believe the third force can checkmate the traditional politicians while working slowly and steadily on building a new coalition of like minds. The death knell of APC was sounded when it chose to welcome every Tom, Dick and Harry into its fold, but it had no choice if it wanted to win elections. I also suppose that is an essential aspect of democracy. However, what APC lacked was the will to consign the chaff, flotsam and jetsam to the rubbish heap. On the contrary, they were promoted to vantage positions. Truth seems to be that the good candidates would not win elections in the near future without the assistance of bad guys. The immediate priority of APC and PDP should be how to save Nigeria from the monumental tragedy of ineffective leaders. I really do not care which Party gives us the next President but I care about the quality of leadership. If care is not taken and a third force fails to align to one of the existing Parties, the third force may act as a spoiler by chipping away at some of the votes a creditable, credible opposition Party would have garnered. A good example is the 1979 scenario where the combined force of UPN and NPP would have torpedoed the abysmal and woeful NPN which Obasanjo bequeathed to Nigeria. Clearly, this does not augur well for Nigeria.
I hope someone is listening to my patriotic sermon…
TIME TO END OUR MILITARY MENTALITY
I was happy to watch President Donald Trump’s speech in Davos yesterday on CNN. I was very impressed about how he spoke eloquently and convincingly about the new ease of doing business in America today. I saw a man who was very serious about creating jobs at home, by all means necessary. As a businessman himself, he obviously understands the rudiments of running business and creating opportunities for job seekers. That should be the priority of all governments, but I’m not sure Nigeria is ready to treat our investors as the kings they are in reality.
I was shocked to read the latest harassment of one of our business icons, Dr Mike Adenuga, on social media yesterday. According to the widely circulated reports, Dr. Adenuga’s company is owing the Federal Government some huge sums of money running into billions of naira. It was not stated how members of the House of Representatives arrived at their figure, but they claimed they’ve summoned Dr Adenuga to appear before them several times but he refused. The tone and anger displayed by the committee members probing the alleged infractions sounded more like vendetta than genuine interest in getting whatever amount his companies are allegedly owing, back to government coffers. One of them went downright personal when he said Adenuga is not the only billionaire in Nigeria and he cannot disrespect them. My view is that unlike public service where you may call for the Minister or Agency head, you cannot do the same for a private company, particularly where the individual is not an executive Chairman. There are appropriate officers of a company to deal with such matters. Asking Adenuga to come personally demonstrates not only a lack of understanding of corporate nuances but also unseriousness, even arrogance, by our legislators who appear not to have done their homework.
Furthermore, if the Honourable House members have concluded their investigations and findings, are they the ones to prosecute and judge at the same time? The allegations they make are matters which are either for the civil or criminal courts. Their powers are limited. Therefore, why can’t they refer the matter to the appropriate authorities instead of this unnecessary grandstanding. If we continue to humiliate all our great and visionary business men and women publicly by trial in the court of public opinion rather than the Court of Law, who would be left standing? I agree that matters of this nature should be investigated, but not in this barefaced gra gra manner.
Dr Adenuga is undoubtedly one of our hardest working businessmen. He has provided employment for thousands of Nigeria. We all know him to be reclusive in nature and he does not partake in the orgy of ostentation that some of our politicians are known for. He is shy to a fault and is hardly seen in public. Such an institution deserves some respect and protection. If he collapses, God forbid, many thousands of Nigerian families will suffer. We should try to find means of helping people like Adenuga to stay afloat for the sake of our youths. Before our very eyes, Etisalat ran into troubled waters and could not swim afloat. The same must not be allowed to happen to Glo. Once in a while we must eat yam because of palm-oil or eat palm-oil because of yam. No man is perfect in life but we can help to make people perfect, out of love, genuine concern and even the selfish interest of the nation that is already in its death throes from businesses being mortally wounded.
May the tribes of Adenuga increase and may God bless Nigeria mightily through them…
Presidential Debate: between Buhari and Atiku
By Jude Ndukwe
The much talked about Presidential Debate scheduled to hold on Saturday, January 19, 2019, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, has come and gone but not without its dramas that have kept Nigerians wondering and talking about so many things including why the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, shunned the debate, and why his closest challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, excused himself from it after realizing that the incumbent was not going to be in attendance.
The debate was supposed to be a Presidential Debate. Such debates world over lose their essence and savour once the incumbent is not present, and it is unthinkable that the incumbent in the US, for example, would miss out on such a debate since the debate is designed to scrutinize the performance of the incumbent/his party and extract commitments from the contenders.
It is therefore sad and unfortunate that President Muhammadu Buhari did not see it fit to seize this all important opportunity to engage his challengers in particular and Nigerians in general through the debate. His absence totally vitiates the importance of the debate and obliterates its essence just like a well advertised world heavyweight boxing match is scuttled by the absence of the reigning champion. No matter how well publicized the match is, it does not even matter if the tickets were sold out and the arena packed to the rafters, the excitement, the anticipation and expectations of those following developments both at the venue and other places dissipates at the speed of light once the reigning champion chooses to stay away from the match for whatever reason. Such a disappointment cannot even be assuaged or compensated for by the challenger no matter how much he tries to entertain the crowd with shadow boxing and showboating which is what a Presidential Debate without the incumbent is.
In fact, in developed democracies, presidential debates are usually organized for only the top contenders, and in the case of the US, between just two, the Democrats and the Republicans. While there are usually dozens of other political parties fielding candidates for the presidential elections in the United States, only candidates of the two major contending parties feature in Presidential Debates after the parties’ primaries.
Although candidates of the other parties have always been in the contest, their chances of victory are very slim and insignificant to the extent that the debate feature only the top two contenders. If it was in the US, the Presidential Debate would have been strictly between the top two contenders, in this case, President Muhammadu Buhari and his closest challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The verdict, based on what happened yesterday, would have been that the Debate would not hold since Atiku turned up but Buhari was nowhere to be found near the venue. In fact, he was in far away Plateau State, showing total disregard for the debate, as always.
Just like in Nigeria, apart from the major political parties, there are also such parties with considerable influence in the American political system but who are not invited for Presidential Debates. The wisdom in this is that it allows the contenders with the realistic chances of having ample time to scrutinize one another. For example, former New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson, was the presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party (LP) at the 2012 US general elections. Johnson had votes in every state in America except only for Michigan and Oklahoma. His total votes in the election were over one million.
Again in 2016, the LP fielded Gary Johnson, and this time round, he received over four million votes in the presidential election.
Another party with similar strengths as the Libertarian Party in the US is the Constitution Party. The strength of this party can be measured by the fact that its gubernatorial candidate at the Colorado election in 2010 actually came second with 36.4% of total valid votes cast, beating the candidate of the Republican party to third position.
It is noteworthy that despite their strengths, only candidates of The Republicans and The Democrats tango in the US’ Presidential Debates. If the debate was to be in America, the debate would have been strictly between Buhari and Atiku, and the natural and correct thing to do when the incumbent is not present is for the organizers to call it off and or for the top contender to excuse himself as he cannot debate against himself. One is not saying that the other contenders are not important, it is just that having narrowed the contest to two major contenders with the most realistic chances of winning, they need time to scrutinize each other and marshal out their points.
Atiku was absolutely right in excusing himself from that Presidential Debate after seeing that the other major contender, Buhari, was absent. Debates are not just addresses or rallies, they are ultimately a stage where “opposing arguments are put forward” by the debaters. In fact, another dictionary described it as to “argue about (a subject), especially in a formal manner”. One of the synonyms for debate is to “dispute” on an issue. At this stage of our national life, we can no longer be taking certain things for granted. If it was a debate on critical national matters, who would Atiku be debating or disputing with on this matters?
Does Kingsley Moghalu know why our soldiers are being killed on a regular basis by a ragtag Boko Haram despite trillions of naira budgeted and spent on the military in Buhari’s almost four years tenure? Can Oby Ezekwesili provide answers to why the Buhari presidency keeps making excuses for those who murder our fathers, rape our mothers, wickedly rip out the unborn from their wombs, maim our children, sack communities and forcefully take over other people’s lands without any repercussion or even as much as a challenge from our security forces under Buhari as Commander-in-Chief? Could Fela Durotoye have been able to provide answers to why Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world under the Buhari administration with all its known inefficiencies, gross incompetence and blatant ineptitude? Who among them could have explained why the fight against corruption under this administration has been turned to a fight against opposition? Who among them would have been able to provide answers on why appointments are lopsided and why Nigerians have been so bitterly divided along parochial lines under the Buhari presidency based on the words and actions of the president and his officials?
Critical issues and questions of national importance would have come up at the debate to which only the incumbent would have answers to. But what is the essence of a debate of presidential candidates when the one to give answers to those issues plaguing us as a nation is not there to either defend himself and his administration or give explanations as to why certain things happen under him which have left Nigerians bewildered.
Such disputing on the podium would then give all the candidates including the incumbent chance to put forward what they would do differently going forward. This is why a debate is between the forces for and those against. It is not a narrative exercise, it is an argumentative one, and when one critical party to the salient points to be raised at the debate deliberately makes himself unavailable, it rubbishes the very essence of the debate.
This is the reason why the other contenders should have also insisted that they would not participate in the debate if Buhari was not going to be there. What was the essence of all they said about the precarious situation of the country when the man at the helm of affairs was not there? Who were they disputing with? Or, rather, who were they debating with? The truth is that all the other candidates who chose to go ahead with the debate did not do so because they are comfortable with the fact that Buhari was not present or that they love Nigeria and Nigerians more than Atiku, but only seized the opportunity of rare free live television coverage provided by the occasion to speak of their ambition and have their faces on camera. That is the hallmark of desperate politicians who would compromise standards and rightness just to further their own personal interests which they masquerade as national interest.
But Atiku is not a desperate leader. His ambition is obviously about Nigeria and not about his person. He shows this by insisting that the right things have to be done by all irrespective of status. He has willingly engaged Nigerians at different forums where he was subjected to grueling questions agitating the minds of the people. He was fully prepared for the debate despite his long trip and the hectic schedules arising from it, yet, he moved straight from the US to the debate venue, but alas, the president, the most pivotal factor of such an exercise chose to stay away.
Buhari’s absence is surely not unconnected to the mindset of his presidency as stated by one of his acolytes, Prof Itse Sagay, that the presidential debate was designed for “political dwarfs”. Until Buhari comes out of his shell of “political dwarfism” even as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, those who go to presidential debates without him there as president have only succeeded in cutting their own average heights just to fit into “political dwarfism”. As for Atiku, it is obvious he is not ready to reduce his towering heights in order to satisfy the conditions for being a “political dwarf”. Certainly, it is time for political giants in the mould of Buhari and Atiku to square up in a debate. This is the real deal and when could this be?
—firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @StJudeNdukwe
Pendulum: Why Atiku’s US Trip is a Super Coup Against APC
BY DELE MOMODU
Fellow Nigerians, this season of jolliness and bonhomie has not been the best of times for the ruling party, APC, and certainly not for its Presidential flagbearer, President Muhammadu Buhari. It may not be unfair to say that this has been one of the worst weeks since the President returned to power on May 29, not May 19, 2015. The President has come under a barrage of social media attacks for series of gaffes on his part in recent time. The first was the interview he granted the Editors of Thisday newspapers and their sister station, the fast rising, Arise News Channel. That amateurish video production was so dire and awful that had it not emanated from the Presidency it would have been condemned immediately as trash. As it is, it seems symptomatic of the malaise currently dogging the President and his team.
The story was told of how the President’s handlers insisted they must handle the recording themselves and hand the tape over to Arise News Channel. That is fine, no problem, but the production turned out to be beneath acceptable standards of journalism and certainly belied the efficiency and perfection one would expect from the Presidential Team. The audio and vision were not the best, not to talk of the meat of the interview itself. The President came across as someone not too sure, or confident, of himself, and what his job entails. The unfortunate display which was avidly circulated by social media aficionados did not compliment the President at all.
As if that was not bad enough, there was yet another interview, in quick, rapid-fire succession, organised on the government-owned NTA. This one was a total PR disaster for President Buhari despite the fact that the cerebral Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was co-interviewed by one of the best television personalities in Nigeria, and beyond, Kadaira Ahmed, and in his inimitable intellectual, charismatic and charming manner, the Vice-President tried to limit the damage being done by his boss. As much as the interviewer tried to be mild-mannered and pleasant, unlike her usual combative style, the interview just didn’t flow in the right directions. Opportunities were missed and justifications and explanations were stilted. There were just too many negative soundbites which ignited cyberspace and in no time went viral globally.
As they say, when it rains it pours, and this was the case for APC, two days ago, when The Boss, a popular online newspaper, broke the news of Atiku Abubakar’s trip to the United States of America. For over a decade Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had not been able to obtain a US visa talk less of travelling in that direction. It was one of the nagging questions I posed to him when I got an exclusive session with him in Lagos, long before he won the PDP ticket. His answer became a major point of controversy, as he told me, candidly, that he had applied for American visa and was yet to be granted. Naturally, his political enemies went ballistic and taunted me and him endlessly about his inability to enter the US, as if I was his spokesperson and more importantly as if a visit to the US was indeed a precondition for winning the Presidential election. Many swore that he would never surmount that obstacle, matter-of-factly. They stubbornly rejected the notion that if Atiku was afraid of America, he would never have attempted to apply for a visa, in the first instance and, that, if America wanted him so badly, he would have been granted the visa so that he could be snared and entrapped, or in the absence of that, he would have been put under International Police (Interpol) watch, and he would have long since been picked up on one of his frequent trips abroad. Truth is logic no longer knows logic in our climes.
So, it was assumed that Atiku and America were on permanent divorce, due to irreconcilable differences. At a point, even the ruling party warned the United States not to be swayed or tempted to issue him the much sought-after visa, and everyone wondered if it was their business to dictate to America. Now, let’s fast forward. Atiku won the Presidential ticket of PDP and went about his business. His victory was dismissed by the APC as a non-event and its supporters even boasted, openly, that Atiku will never defeat Buhari. They never forgot to end by adding, “a man who cannot attempt to enter America.” But the ways of God are not the ways of man. The men of power began to flex muscles and subjected Atiku to subliminal attacks. A Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for eight years, from 1999 to 2007, some courtesies that used to be extended to him were suddenly withdrawn. His plane was frisked, and he complained about being searched, more than usual, on return from one of his foreign trips, but the gentleman bore it all with equanimity. In no time, thereafter, rumours began to fly about the seeming and perceived intimidation of his supporters. His campaign found it tough to raise needed funds. No one wanted to fall into the hands of Buhari’s goons. But Atiku remained defiant and trudged on, like the old Roman soldier. His campaign was dissed as lacklustre, and not able to match Buhari’s fire-power and razzmatazz.
All seemed tight and tough for Atiku but he maintained a steady focus. His campaign started at a slow but steady pace. Surprisingly, he kept packing the crowds, while the Director General of The Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign and The President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, remained uncharacteristically upbeat. He was dancing so much at rallies that many began to wonder the source of his sauce. He constantly lit up the campaigns. Saraki and former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, stewed so much as they danced Shaku Shaku style and tried to compete with our best choreographers. We didn’t have to wait long for answers to the posers. It landed, without warning, at my desk Thursday afternoon. I was on a flight from Monrovia, Liberia to Lagos, Nigeria, and was in transit in Accra Ghana, when it landed, thunderously. Scoops are the best meals of journalists. It won’t be wrong to call them our opium.
Before we took off, I quickly drafted an urgent press release which I fired to our Editors. Their initial response was that of incredulity, but I told them to shoot immediately. No other media group should beat us to this. You only get such exclusives once in a green moon.
By the time we landed in Lagos, I rushed to put on my phone and ran to open my biggest addiction, Twitter, something I share in common with President Donald Trump. I was happy our story was everywhere but sad our mainstream media seemed unable to confirm the biggest story of the year, or too scared to take a risk because they felt it was an impossibility.
As soon as we disembarked, and I climbed into my waiting car, I zoomed to work on my phone, frantically. I called some impeccable contacts who gave me the blow by blow account of how Atiku left Nigeria, unannounced, and obtrusively, on his most important journey ever, the game-changer any politician would wish for, exactly one month to the biggest election of all time. I called the Editors and fired some more authoritative gist. We did an update on how Atiku left Lagos, in company of Saraki and Senator Ben Murray Bruce and others. Then my phones began to buzz. I was told Daily Trust has debunked our story based on an interview granted them by Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe. I simply ignored the talk of the story being fake. I expected Paul to avoid being so categorical but… We moved on knowing news bomb would soon explode and expose whoever was right or wrong.
Shortly after, I saw the story on Cable News, owned by my dear Brother, Simon Kolawole, and I said now we are inching closer to an eventful evening. Then, at The Boss, we did our last update before everywhere finally exploded. This time, it was how Atiku’s plane filed a flight plan to London, from where it changed and headed to Washington. All this while doubters, and APC supporters, were on my case, flashing the Daily Trust story at me, but I remained unperturbed. I saw a Punch story that the Nigerian Embassy said it was aware of Atiku’s presence in the US. I smiled to myself, knowing very soon, they will know by which technology he navigated his way to America. Soon, and very soon, we shall see the Wazirin in America. I already queued up for the first pictures. And it came.
That was how in one second, Atiku, or the Atikulated campaign, took off with uncommon favour and fervour. My dear friends in APC went quiet, a few threw the usual tantrums. I had expected them to pretend a little, but they couldn’t hide their shock and, possibly, disappointment in America. By yesterday, my big Brother, Alhaji Lai Mohammed came out of the grove to declare, majestically, that if Atiku likes, he can pick up a green card in America and stay there for as long as he wants. Wow, he was not done. He became an instant Prosecutor, or Minister of Justice, EFCC boss or Supreme Court Justice, when he pronounced Atiku guilty of bank fraud and malfeasance, and that he should be ready to answer questions about the collapse of Bank PHB, upon his return. This coming after about one day gone in the United States, and one month to the start of the general elections. Lord have mercy.
Why is APC fighting on all fronts? Who is misleading my friends and, once upon a time, fellow Buharists. Are they not tired of this commotion, tension and confusion. Not too long ago, the Senate President and the legislature; more recently, the CJN and the Judiciary; now the leader of opposition, Atiku Abubakar. My prediction is very simple and straight-forward.
It seems to me that APC needs a miracle to win the next election, if it continues to follow this destructive path. APC has inflicted these difficult times on itself. I am not sure that some of the distinguished party faithful are not working directly against the interests of the party and its presidential candidate. There are apparently Fifth Columnists abroad! Otherwise, the only other thing that can be said is that the party appears to be hell bent on following the PDP template for rejection and failure that the same APC constantly and serially condemned just before the last elections.
All the party’s antics now smack of great desperation and panic attack as they seek to land the plum job of President of Nigeria. The senior members should have summoned the courage to advise the President to serve only one term, especially after his health failed so spectacularly two years ago. His amiable, cerebral and inspired Vice-President would have taken over and unified the country. But hell no, they didn’t see the need. How on earth, and at this time and age, did APC expect Buhari to run a serious campaign and manage a big and complex country like Nigeria, given all that seems to be wrong? At least the President was honest enough to acknowledge this when he ceded leadership of the campaign to the irrepressible Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The only problem is that this gambit itself appears to have backfired as the President has made more appearances on the campaign trail and hustings than the appointed leader of the campaign.
I’m wondering if APC remembers the promises made to Nigerians to make the economy better, corruption exterminated, the Naira stronger and security tighter. In good conscience, have they delivered? This, will be answered hopefully next month, when the people troop out to vote.
Congratulations to Atiku on what is turning out to be a good trip for him both at home and abroad. The APC is jittery and this alone may be worth the medal for Atiku. Meanwhile, we await your arrival and looking forward to your trial …
God help Nigeria.
The Trials of a Chief Justice: Justice And Buhari’s Aberration of Due Process
By. Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.
On Monday, January 7, 2019 a petition by one of President Buhari’s pally was filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Two days after, said petition had made its way to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Chairman’s desk. In uncharacteristic manner, the petition was expedited with charges dated the 10th of January 2019, filing and service of charges were effected on the Chief Justice on the 11th of January, 2019. Effective legal system? Think again.
Trial was hurriedly fixed for the 15th of the same month in what must be the nation’s fastest legal system process in living and late memory. It won’t be surprising to see the kangaroo tribunal produce a ruling or judgement still within January. Everything absurd is possible under this government.
Of course one may make the mistake of applauding the process while failing to discern that the pace is not so much from a quest for justice but a rush to score a political advantage over perceived non-loyalists of the APC-led government. So desperate was the set-up that its facilitators, as usual of them, failed to properly follow or respect laid down principles at law in such cases.
Mr. President’s legal advisers are regrettably slow, inadequate or simply pressured by their principal’s desperation to cut corners in due process where it serves their shallow whims. They’ve demonstrated such woeful interpretation and awareness of the laws of Nigeria to indict their relevance to the country. For the avoidance of doubt, the Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen may only be tried by a Tribunal if (and after) the National Judicial Commission through its own constituted investigative committee finds him culpable of any offence and sanctions him. The above due process/principle was emphatically laid down in the decided case of Nganjiwan v. Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The decision to try the country’s Chief Justice at the Code of Conduct Tribunal without due process on charges of false declaration of assets brings once more to the front-burner the question of the real intent of executive rascality on the judiciary. Is it truly a case of justice in operation or oppression?
I would happily concede, of course, that no one is above the law and that the Chief Justice does have a duty at law and morally to clear himself of the allegations levied against him. What, however, offends my sensibility as a concerned citizen is threefold; firstly, the apparent readiness of this government to prosecute non-party members of the APC while sleeping on their responsibility where the accused are members of the APC, secondly the opportune timing is much too convenient to not be suspicious given the elections are but a few weeks away and elections tribunals are anticipated by products of said selection. Thirdly, and perhaps more instructive, is the identity of the leveler of the claims against the Chief Justice.
Is it truly the case that APC members are beyond reproach? Is it truly the case that the APC would readily pardon conformist party-members for gross allegations while sounding the war-drum where the accused is from opposition parties, or simply non-loyalists of the APC. Babachir Lawal presents an ever perturbing insight into the working of the minds of the Buhari government who, till date, refuses to prosecute or try Mr. Babachir in court for his involvement in swindling the government of at least N250 Million naira to cut grass. Let’s not forget that Mr. Babachir continues to play a prominent role in the APC even after his resignation (rather than outright sack) from office.
Abba Kyari has severally been indicted by substantiated claims of using his position to defraud unsuspecting individuals while pocketing kickbacks from government contractors. The APC National Legal Adviser was indicted for paying questionable sums of money to a judge to influence a decision but that is a matter that has long grown cold. Okoi-Oblat continues to seat as a Presidential Adviser on persons to prosecute while himself indicted for forging his certificate and by implication bereft of the qualifications he claims as a lawyer.
There is of course Senator Omisore who has long since had his traveling documents returned to him and his EFCC case ‘forgiven’ given his role in helping steal the people’s gubernatorial mandate in Osun state. Lest I forget, there is of course Chief Uzor KANU wanted ( and declared wanted by the EFCC) but publicly galvanising at APC rallies without reproach. I could go on but I believe my point is made. I leave Nigerians to consider if these individuals become saints once their loyalty shifts to the APC.
With the elections in view, it has been suggested that the harassment of the Chief Justice may be strategic given Buhari’s reservations about a Chief Justice from the south. Should the Chief Justice be successfully driven from office, the next in line from the apex post is a Northerner, a convenience that must greatly please Mr. President with his demonstrated strain of nepotism.
But more than that, the identity of the individual who made the claims against the Chief Justice lends greater credence to the suspicion that removing him is a strategic play by the APC. Hiding under a fictitious organization, Mr. Dennis Agher, a former aide of President Muhammadu Buhari wrote the petition against the Chief Justice. The accelerated preparation for the trial of the Chief Justice only goes to confirm that justice in this country is selective and politically strategic. Mr. Dennis is but a pawn employed to destabilize the judiciary to perhaps pave the way for the executive to exert themselves on the judiciary. To believe the contrary would be to exhibit an unforgivable naivety that may very well empower the gradual dismantling of the non-negotiable features of a democracy; rule of law and separation of power.
Only recently, the APC unveiled it’s campaign logo and slogan, NextLevel and retracted it when it was made public that both the logo and slogan were plagiarized. It wasn’t the first time this government would be caught stealing other’s ideas from a lack of originality on their part, neither was it the last. Just last week, their Website put up a copied speech promising to ‘make America great again’ !
This aren’t things to be trivialized as these are pointers to the general cluelessness of this government. If they’ve spent their time copying speeches and slogans, their ruthlessness as an oppressive government is actually inherent in the personality of their principal head- President Buhari, a one time military head who abrogated the constitution and disregarded the judiciary.
This is Buhari 202. Let’s hope we never experience Buhari 303. To Get Nigeria Working Again, Buhari simply has to go.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq., is the Principal Partner at Pelumi Olajengbesi & Co. Law Corridor.
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