Thursday, 23 December 2010

Opinion: Atiku’s Decision to run, “A Rude Shock”

Atiku Abubakar
By George Kerley
When some of us heard about the return of Atiku Abubakar to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), we were happy that he can come to help rebuild the house he once threatened to sweep away from the political space of Nigeria having armed himself and his followers with tonnes of brooms with which they planned to use for the sweeping of Nigeria.
Clearly not used to menial jobs such as sweeping and having being accustomed to the good life provided by the billions he has made from his ‘fortunate investments’ and handsome gifts provided by top international companies, Atiku Abubakar has let go of the broom and returned to the shelter provided by the PDP umbrella.
The question is. what is it about the broom that made Atiku uncomfortable? Are the volatile contents of his statements now part of a larger scheme to see to the implosion of the PDP – destroy it from the inside and then go back for the broom?
What is it about the PDP that Atiku is not telling us? Is he saying that it is not possible to be President without being a member of the PDP? If so, then why did he fight so hard to destroy the party in 2003?
When he quoted Franz Fanon last week, was he referring to the fact that those who make peaceful sweeping impossible could be inviting violent sweeping?
The shock wave that ran through most of us was intense. Some of us felt that Atiku Abubakar would come face to face to Nigerians and explain the various accusations that his former boss Obasanjo and the EFCC hurled at him.
We thought he would come back to Nigerians and explain how all those millions of US dollars got into the account of his wife Jennifer Atiku while she was in the United States of America.
We thought he would explain to us the kind of dealings that his wife had with Siemens AG that warranted the deposition of more than two million dollars ($2m) in her American Bank account.
Yesterday he was with the broom. Today he is seeking shelter under the umbrella. What could he be doing tomorrow? Maybe he will be with a shovel trying to dig a grave for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Desperate leaders cannot be trusted.
For a man who has turned out to be the most disloyal Vice President of the Nigerian State, Nigerians must beware. The increasing tone of desperation in his recent comments show the state of a man who can resort to just anything just to get a shot at the presidency.
Recently, while responding to questions from media executives at the Golden Gate Restaurant in Ikoyi on why he was so desperate to be president, he responded that he was not desperate for anything whether it be 2011 or any other.
He went on to say that he had never been desperate for anything. He then added “If I had been desperate, I would not have stepped down for Abiola in 1992 OR allowed Obasanjo to be President”.
Such reckless arrogance coming after a session of reckless rhetoric, makes me wonder what on earth could be wrong with this Atiku fellow.
There are those who believe that Atiku’s increasing arrogance and reckless rhetoric could be the result of the failure of the Nigerian State and its anti-corruption machinery to rope-in corrupt leaders hence a tendency of these so-called untouchables’ leaders to arrogate to themselves, the right to rule Nigeria by any means necessary.
One wonders why in spite of the reports of the millions of dollars that were reportedly siphoned into the accounts of his then US-based wife Jennifer Atiku most of which were wired from Nigeria and others from US-based companies like Siemen AG etc, no government or international agency has bothered to ask questions on why so much money was wired of out Nigeria in such a short space of time.
Do such allegations fall outside the mandate of the EFCC or Interpol? Or was Atiku Abubakar just too smart to be caught?
What is most intriguing is the fact that even Siemens AG has acknowledged that they paid in millions of US dollars into Mrs Jennifer Atiku’s account in the United States. So what is no one investigating this matter?
Why is Siemens AG not being called up to explain why they paid so much money into Atiku’s wife’s account? Was it bribe money? Was it money for influence peddling?
Any wonder then when Atiku Abubakar suddenly wakes up to say that “Nigeria is broke”?
There are too many question marks on Atiku’s head. I wonder who can provide the answers.
(Kerley is of "The Jonathan Project")

Article: ACN Ticket Is Between Ribadu, Bafarawa And Others

By Bashir Bello Akko

As the year 2010 draws to a close, ushering the highly anticipated year 2011, when general elections are expected to be conducted, the political tempo too is significantly rising. It is not just because elections will be held, but also because the expectations of the nation for free, fair, and credible elections has probably never been higher, especially with a presidential promise from Goodluck Jonathan himself, and his appointment of an umpire that many Nigerians seem to have so much trust and confidence in his capability and impartiality.

Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, now an amalgam of fusing political parties, is gradually becoming Nigeria’s centre of political attraction, not just because it has been the biggest gainer of legal victory in governorship election matters so far in this dispensation, (it has won three states now in the courtrooms, making its control of states now four) but again because it believes it has now assumed the position of Nigeria’s leading opposition party ready to wrestle power from the hands of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).

Having already conducted a national convention that produced only its national officers, ACN’s focus seems to shift to its selection process of a presidential ticket bearer in a party primary that will not be long in coming. In its convention of Tuesday December 21, 2010, the Party showed a remarkable trace of cohesion, compromise and consensus when all the officers emerged unopposed, and without a single dissent or protest. This is unusual in pre-elections conventions where emerging officers are believed to be those with the mandate, or even power to make electoral difference especially during the primaries from which bona fide candidates of the Party emerge.

It seems therefore the attention of the party will now shift to settling on who its presidential candidate will be. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu so far seems the only aspirant that has not only made his ambition known, but has gone further to do the formal declaration ceremony on Wednesday December 15, 2010. Another name making the rounds in the ACN is also Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa who was a two-term governor of Sokoto State and one time presidential candidate of the now defunct Democratic Peoples Party, DPP. The party, DPP, was a splinter of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, which later got INEC’S registration and contested the 2007 elections. Another name being speculated is of Dr. Usman Bugaje, who until the last convention was the party’s National Secretary. Bugaje was a governorship aspirant in his native Katsina State under the PDP, but decamped to the ACN when the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua pitched tent with Ibrahim Shehu Shema that eventually won the state governorship seat.

Who then, among them, is the key contender? Bugaje is yet to formally declare, and seems to be prudent in letting out much information on his political ambition. His resignation as national secretary of the party may suggest a plan to contest either governorship or presidential seat in the ACN, but if the proposed merger between ACN and General Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, scales through, even the Katsina governorship seat could be relinquished to former House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Bello Masari, a CPC decampee from PDP that is leading negotiations on behalf of Buhari for the merger.

This then leaves Ribadu and Bafarawa for the hot race. On paper, Bafarawa seems to have an edge over Ribadu in terms of financial might. But in modern politics, it is having people, and not money alone that wins elections, even at primary level. This is why Buhari twice picked ANPP’S ticket when the likes of Rochas Okorachas were in the party’s race. Ribadu himself explained in an interview with international correspondents that his idols like late Sardauna of Sokoto Sir Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa and even Shehu Shagari did not have massive money when they contested and won elections.

Similarly, Bafarawa seems to have an edge in terms of political experience having been in politics for some time now, especially that he won governorship seat twice, and was a presidential candidate at least once. This is unlike Ribadu who has never contested for election or ever been an active player in any party politics. However, the Ribadu team sees things differently, insisting that Ribadu’s experience comes from his almost thirty years of meritorious public service.

They insist that Ribadu’s 18 years as public prosecutor earned him the record of successful convictions unmatched by any individual in the almost 150 years of police history in Nigeria. They further showed that Ribadu is not only an exemplary police officer of many years, but a lawyer that has read even beyond a Masters level and now a registered Ph.D student. One could also point to Ribadu’s impeccable personal integrity which built an anti-graft agency, the EFCC, from the scratch to one of the most visible and most effective financial crimes fighting agencies in the world. Bafarawa is perhaps only best known as a successful businessman.
Arguments continue to float front and back, but Ribadu apologists believe that while Bafarawa’s exposure is more limited to state level with no significant record of national or international participation, Ribadu’s spans across the nation and even at international spheres. You can at least point to the EFCC as a major national and even international achievement Ribadu earned.
In a forum recently organized at Mambayya House, Kano, to commemorate late Mallam Aminu Kano’s legacies, speakers alluded to Ribadu’s legal background which they believe will position him better to enhance the rule of law and democratic practices badly needed in Nigerian politics. Similarly, they said his intelligence training and orientation as a police officer and as EFCC boss will provide more realistic instruments for giving the nation better security and safety. They also said that his experience in the EFCC will provide the solid foundation needed to fight corruption which is characterized as the No. one administrative problem of the nation. Also with the international exposure and contacts Ribadu has, it will attract better and more foreign friends to help and invest in the country. All these are not advantages Bafarawa seems to have, they argued.
During a visit by Team Ribadu to the ACN presidential hopeful, these volunteers supporting his campaign insisted that since Ribadu came into the party before Bafarawa, and that since Bafarawa is only a decampee that came after the party was firmly grounded, justice and fairness should rightly give the presidential ticket to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
More importantly, however, they opined that since Ribadu has better organization and structures to meaningfully prosecute the campaign, and that since he has put in so much hard thinking and clear policy solutions backed by untainted public service credentials, coupled with his personal towering integrity record, ACN does not need a second option or even primaries to settle on its ideal and deserving flag-bearer.
One of Ribadu’s campaign co-coordinators also argued during a press interview that since Bafarawa is still enmeshed in legal battles with Sokoto state government, a state he once ruled, on his past deeds during his tenure, he should suspend any bid for elective office and clear his name before re-joining mainstream politics. After all, if the state government implements recommended actions of its white paper and seeks legal indictment in a court of law, Bafarawa may be disqualified and ruin the electoral fortunes of the party. ACN will therefore do well to first look very well before it leaps into the horizon of selecting a flag-bearer. Doing this is imperative because as things are now, it is either ACN or CPC of all the opposition parties that can give the PDP a meaningful democratic fight at next year’s polls. The ACN has set a worthy precedent of peaceful, rancour-free and consensus filled national convention which produced credible and acceptable leaders. Let choosing its flag-bearer go in the same spirit so that the best could emerge to give Nigeria a deserving change.  
(Akko is an Abuja-based practicing journalist)