God bless the soul of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. In 1980, the legendary Nigerian musician released one of his hit songs, “Authority Stealing”. The lyrics of the song go like this: “You be thief (I no be thief); You be rogue (I no be rogue); You dey steal (I no dey steal); You be robber (I no be robber); You be armed robber (No be armed robber)…”
There is no better way to describe the dogfight between the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. These two old men want us to vote for them in the presidential election coming up February 25, 2023. But from the way they have disgraced each other, one wonders what they are still doing in the race.
Like Fela, they have been shouting, “Catch am, catch am! Thief, thief, thief…!” Tinubu fired the first salvo. In a press conference on January 16, 2023, his campaign spokesperson, Mr. Festus Keyamo, said Atiku was involved in money laundering, criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation, conspiracy and breach of code of conduct for public officers. He petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to arrest Atiku for these corruption allegations within 72 hours.
Keyamo noted, “Nigerians have been in shock over the public revelations of a whistleblower, Mr. Michael Achimugu, who has provided the nation with evidence of letters of appointment by Atiku Abubakar, e-mails, documents, audio clips, sworn affidavit and his direct oral evidence as to how Atiku, who happens to be the presidential candidate of the PDP, during his tenure as Vice-President of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, colluded with his then boss, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, to fleece the country and steal public funds using what he termed as ‘Special Purpose Vehicles’.” The SPVs, Keyamo alleged, were companies which Atiku registered upon assumption of office as the VP. The purpose, he added, was to divert government contracts to those companies as ‘consultants’ and through the companies, siphon money which they would use to fund the PDP, their private businesses and family activities.
keyamo, who is Minister of State for Labour and Employment, vowed to go to court if the anti-graft agencies failed to act on his petition. True to his threat, he went to the Federal High Court in Abuja a few days ago. He prayed the court, among others, for an order to compel the EFCC, ICPC and CCB to arrest, investigate and prosecute Atiku if found wanting. He also prayed the court to compel Atiku to submit himself to the EFCC, ICPC and CCB for a thorough investigation in connection with information available to him in respect of a certain bank account belonging to a company called Marine Float and other accounts of two undisclosed companies.
Atiku did not waste time to respond. His campaign spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, made sundry counter-allegations against Tinubu and the APC. He made reference to the formation of a uniformed squad, Jagaban Army, by the APC and asserted that it was a treasonable act and that Tinubu should be arrested and questioned. The Jagaban Army, which he called ‘Jagabandits’, was allegedly set up to disrupt the 2023 general elections and raid polling units for votes on behalf of Tinubu. According to him, it is a direct affront to the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies, as well as an assault on the sovereignty of Nigeria.
He added that Tinubu had a litany of confirmed legal impediments on very grave issues such as trafficking in narcotics and taking proceeds of narcotics. “In the recent case revealed in the United States of America, it is on record that the APC presidential candidate forfeited the sum of $460,000, which was confirmed and found to be proceeds of trafficking in narcotics, an international crime for which Nigeria, being a signatory to international convention on trafficking in narcotics, is obliged to enforce. The effect of the conviction and forfeiture of the sum of $460,000 by Asiwaju Tinubu confirms that he is ineligible and not qualified to contest for the office of the president of Nigeria, as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended),” he averred.
Later in another press conference on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) vowed to furnish Nigerians with the compendium of Tinubu’s alleged corrupt activities. Ologbondiyan, who addressed the conference, said, it’s now in the public domain how Alpha Beta, which had for over 20 years allegedly held the exclusive rights to collect taxes in Lagos State in return for a commission under very shady arrangements, reportedly siphoned billions of naira belonging to Lagos State.
So far, the only major allegation against the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, is that he is stingy. Obi has continued to move round the country telling Nigerians how he intends to rescue the country from the myriad of problems besetting it. Recently, he was at Chatham House in London. It was a brilliant outing where he answered all questions thrown at him, reeling out statistics to back up his claims. He did not pass the questions to his aides to answer for him as Tinubu did when he earlier appeared at the same Chatham House. He said it was the acute poverty in the country as well as cumulative effects of leadership failure over the years that were fuelling agitations in Nigeria. As he put it, “When people start seeing justice, fairness, an inclusive government and doing the right thing, all those things will start reversing and that is what Datti and I are discussing.” At the end of his presentation, many Nigerians, who were at the place to listen to him, started chanting, “All we are saying, give us Obi!”
In sane countries, Atiku and Tinubu should have been forced to step down from the presidential race. Can you ever imagine what will be the fate of these candidates if they were to be campaigning in the United States of America? The US system would have ended their ambition one way or the other.
Here in Nigeria, anything goes. Our own brand of politics is transactional and all for selfish interests. That is why many Nigerians today will gladly join Keyamo and Ologbondiyan to say, “Catch am, catch am! Thief, thief, thief…!” Atiku and Tinubu’s dogfight is divine, as there is no better way to dispense with them and rescue Nigeria from acute leadership deficit. A new Nigeria is still possible.
Re: Atiku, Tinubu’s poisoned bread to Ndigbo
Dear Casmir, Igbos excel in everything in Nigeria but politics. The duo of Atiku and Tinubu, like every other presidential candidates in the past, take advantage of this weakness in every campaign. They would make bogus promises to get the Igbo votes. They would throw bait to them with promise to help them actualize their dream of producing the presidency in the nearest possible future. President Buhari in 2019 through the secretary to federal government, asked Ndigbo to vote Buhari and get the presidency in 2023. Neither Buhari nor APC deemed it wise to zone the presidency to South-East during the party primary.
-Onyejaka Alex Arinze, email@example.com
Dear Casy, you may not publish this opinion of mine but I have to write it nonetheless. Peter Obi is the most qualified candidate among the four strong contenders but he will not win the election due to lack of strong political structure across the country. If Buhari who had a cult following and was seen as a demigod among northerners would fail three times because of the lack of structure, I don’t see Peter Obi winning the election on the platform of the Labour Party. His chances of winning would have been brighter if he’s a candidate of either the PDP or the APC. Let Ndigbo support Atiku. After all he is our in-law; moreover his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, is an Igbo man. Peter Obi is for the future.
-Emeka from Owerri, +234 805 627 8945
Dear Casy, Messrs Tinubu and Atiku that are, today, deciding when it should be the turn of Ndi Igbo to taste the presidency are playing God which derives from their ballooned ego. An ego that arises from their excess self-estimation which, also, arises from obscene wealth acquisition, as their major credentials, from a purloined socio-political and economic system called Nigeria. Since the duo, probably out of senility, have forgotten that it is God that makes kings, permit me to draw their attention to what happened to Nebuchadnezzar at the biblical corridor when power got into his head and he played God, resulting in him turning into a beast and becoming a guest of the bush for seven years as punishment. He who covets what rightly is not his, as on matters of zoning, which rightly, is for the Southeast of Nigeria but diverted, attracts to himself mortal misfortune. Zeroing in on Peter Obi, permit me further to remind the duo about the dictum that one human palm can never shield the moon from shining when it is her season and that, biblically, David defeated Goliath and the same David was anointed king of Israel by God, even when his senior brothers, counting on their human standards or credentials like the duo under reference herein, were the first to show up for selection and installation! A tail-less cow has God as her only protector from the darts of flies.
-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.
Atiku and Tinubu’s quest for South East’s votes is founded on veiled threats and insults. Why should a candidate say, or is of the belief that a race imbued with an unfettered right to assume a political office must use him as a gateway to see the presidential light? Or, in another verbal onslaught, a race is threatened to be fed with crumbs if one is not voted for by them? The same Atiku had preached equity when his ‘unending ambition’ to be Nigeria’s president was being threatened. And lately, Tinubu was also seen dramatizing his ‘Emi lokan agenda’ to a funny height. Naturally, Peter Obi should be the one crying aloud for attention knowing full well that his people’s artificial denial of a shot at the presidency is the most pronounced and has now assumed a proverbial dimension. Yet, Peter Obi is not captured by the ‘my-turn’ identity. He rather dishes out his agenda and the way forward. The complexity of Nigeria makes its continuous existence a matter of ‘give-and-take’.
-Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +234 810 809 5633
Casmir, it is obvious that Tinubu and not Atiku, is playing on the intelligence of Igbo via his offer of bringing Igbo into mainstream national politics. Should Tinubu win, power will be retained in 2027 and it will, thereafter, go back to the North in 2031, for another 8 years! The last president through PDP was a southerner in the person of Jonathan. PDP has also produced only one northerner – Yar’Adua – who died after 2 years in power. Obasanjo and Jonathan combined had 14 years. The North has a right to go for power in PDP, because APC produced Buhari. For now, the death of Yar’Adua has changed the circumstances and necessity for power rotation at the national level between the North and South. It is not ‘automatically’ the turn of the South, because, the North has now had power for 10 years (Yar’Adua + Buhari). For the South, it was 14 years of Obasanjo + Jonathan. There is an ‘imbalance’ that needs to be ‘settled’ by a northerner spending ‘a term’ to bring both regions to 14 years in power since the 4th republic began in 1999.
-Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +234 816 111 4572
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, January 23, 2023