2011 Presidency: Shekarau As Northerners Best Bet - Nigerian Politics

18 September 2010

By Saka Raji Audu

 The 2011 General election time table is out. Presidential election is scheduled to take place on 22nd January. As part of the successful conduct of the general election, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan signed the new electoral bill into law and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) led by Professor Attahiru Jega has received huge sum of money towards successful conduct of the election. Some prominent people have signified their intention to contest in the 2011 presidential election.  Those that are still willing to come back in spite of having tasted the position are General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Other Presidential hopefuls are General Aliyu Gusau (rtd), Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau, the Governor of Kano State (the first to publicly declare his aspiration), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the former EFCC Boss, Alhaji Bashir Uthman Tofa and the incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who is billed to formerly declare on 18th of this month. Let us briefly look at the past activities of these presidential hopefuls to ascertain who among them should earn our mandate.  

General Muhammad Buhari (rtd) was a former Head of state, Minister of Communication, Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources and Chairman of NNPC as well as the Chairman of the scrapped Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). He came to power through the barrel of gun on 31st December 1983 to upset the civil proceedings of the four years old Shagari administration. Before the maradona boys rudely checked him out, he had made some restorations in the dignity of Nigeria in the area of indiscipline and corrupt practices. In the course of executing what he thought good for the country, he stepped on the toes of individual and group of individuals. He cajoled journalists through his decree 4 of 1984. His government hurriedly executed three promising young men in relation to cocaine pushing. He made the democratically elected President Shehu Shagari to go through the dark side of his life. Indeed, some people have argued that whatever Buhari claimed to have achieved in his short term in office was the handwork of his able lieutenant - the late Major General Tunde Idiagbon while according to Buhari critics, he as the Head of state weakly sat down indecisive. His weakness they say, informed why his government was toppled when the late Idiagbon was away to perform pilgrimage at the Holy land in Makah. 

Almost every second Republic political office holders was imprisoned by Buhari administrative cleansing. In addition, two prominent traditional rulers in the country were reprimanded for venting to travel abroad. In fact, one does not know whether or not the like of Alhaji Umaru Dikko has forgiven Buhari for smuggling him into a crate from abroad to Nigeria. Even after Buhari had left government house, most of his public comments were highly inflammable. The comment he allegedly made at Sokoto launching that Muslims should vote Muslims is still very green in his oppositions’ mind. In 2003 and 2007, he sought to be elected as civilian President of Nigeria under All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). But he could not make it in the two separate elections. Could all of the above be the reasons he was not elected for two past elections? For the third time, he is willing to try his luck again under a new political platform known as Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).  

We also have General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the same 'evil genius' who had put ten years ban on old breed politicians and now wants to tell us that the young breed politicians are not capable of administering the country. The 'evil genius' who knew very well how he appropriated the 1991 gulf war oil windfall is now telling us today that he is not a thief simply because he has not been sent to jail. In any case, it beats one's imagination to hear from a man who became President through the barrel of gun as not being a thief. Coup plotting is dishonest and dishonesty breeds thievery.  

According to a report by the News watch magazine of 6th January 1995, a total amount of $571.78 million (N12.58billion) was realized from crude oil sales during the Gulf crisis. This money was realized as a result of the increase in demand and the hike in the prices of oil following its scarcity in the international market, a short falls of four million barrels per day. This money also formed a part of $12.4 billion (N272.8 billion) realized in oil sales between September 1988 and June 1994 placed in special accounts.  The profit made by Nigeria during the Gulf crisis was so encouraging to the extent that Nsikak Essien, an editor with the then Concord press satirically prayed in one of his writings that God should never allow the Gulf crisis to end so that Nigeria would continue to make the huge profits out of her oil. But the 'evil genius' has not told us where was the large sums Nigeria made during the Gulf crisis? What was it used for and in whose interest? This is not to talk about his inhuman policies, his SAP that sapped Nigerians, his IMF loans that enslaved Nigerians, his government policy of chop- chop that brought about high level of corruption, which we are still battling today and his painful annulment of June 12 that almost caused civil war in addition to his other unfortunate incidences. So, what does IBB, the evil genius want again? Is he still referring to Nigerians as fools? This is appalling!   

To allow an evil genius as IBB and his fellow travelers in PDP to clinch to power in 2011 is to call Nigerians fool and make Nigeria a hopeless state where anarchy and lawlessness might reign supreme.  IBB would still have to explain to Nigerians what happened to the country oil windfall during the 1991 gulf war, his 1986 Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that turned out to enslave the common man, his 1989 IMF loan that enslaved the Nigerian Students and his 1993 annulment of June 12, Presidential election that led to loss of huge lives and property. What about the 1986 Dele Giwa issue? What about the Ogidi tragedy in Lagos where 150 Nigerian soldiers were bombed and the huge fall in the value of our currency, leading to high level of inflation where too much money chased too few goods at the detriment of Nigerians? All these IBB refused to explain to Nigerians in 2000 when he was called by the then Oputa Panel to do so. Thus, whoever is engaged or planning to eat from IBB spoils of office in anticipation of getting him 'elected' in 2011 should eat small as IBB has many loads up his sleeves.  

There is this man called Mallam Nuhu Ribadu whose trouble started sometime in 2006 when the former President Obasanjo was nursing the idea of going for third term in office as civilian president of Nigeria. This dream was however later shattered at the national assembly. This made Obasanjo a wounded lion that he later vowed to take politics as do and die affair. The way Obasanjo thought he could go about it was to frustrate, intimidate and cowed whoever refused to kowtow to his third term agenda. One of the government agents Obasanjo could conveniently use against his perceived political foes was the EFCC under the leadership of Nuhu Ribadu. He caused for the accelerated promotion of Ribadu, putting his other mates in the Nigerian Police behind him. He made Ribadu his dear queen of the time by extending series of preferential treatments to him. All these, made Ribadu a puppet to Obasanjo, to the extent that whatever he pointed at, Ribadu would go for it to satisfy his boss that had wanted every big politician and governor to be in his party. In 2007 when the general election for presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies were approaching, Ribadu deviated from his moral crusade  and intensified his witch hunt for Obasanjo's acclaimed political enemies, both the innocent and the guilty ones. Guilty one like the former ANPP governor of Jigawa State , Alhaji Saminu Turaki had to quickly dump his party and went to take cover under Obasanjo's ruling party. This evasive act could not still help him even though he is still serving as senator in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  

Ribadu used the power conferred on him as EFCC Chairman to endanger some people's political future. If he meant well for the system and was sincere and honest in his anti-graft crusade, why did he include the former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku in the list of corrupt politicians and left his boss, Obasanjo as innocent whereas, he knows very well that they are both in the same boat? While Ribadu was being used to destroy people of integrity under the guise of fighting corruption, some inconsiderate people were busy elongating Ribadu for the hatched job, not minding the fact that a coin has two faces. We are told that Ribadu had never worn his police uniform. We are told that Ribadu considered himself as special because he was just appointed to look after a federal government agency. People are still not happy with the recruitment pattern of EFCC workers, which was tilted to Ribadu's kith and kin. People are still not comfortable with the fact that in spite of huge sum of money recovered from the corrupt politicians, the country is still groping in abject poverty. 

One needs not talk about the allegations that the ex-corruption crusader, Ribadu also has houses in Dubai, Leeds, Chelsea and Abuja. This is because some people who are still in doubt about the true Ribadu's character said it is a false allegation. But when Ribadu was making the same pent-up charges and allegations against political and personal rivals of Obasanjo, the people did not doubt Ribadu because in Nigeria, once one is in charge, one becomes an angel.  In view of the catalogue of misdemeanors of Ribadu enumerated above, how can we trust him again for leadership? 

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is another presidential aspirant that wants to be the number one citizen after the January election. He is the former Vice President who has also served this country with his boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for eight years. Obasanjo/Atiku leadership cannot be exonerated from the woes of the country. It is on record how this duo manipulated the country to their advantage without the fear of God.  When they were later separated by greed towards the end of their tenure, the country was treated with disdain on how each tried to loot the country with impunity. The crisis led Atiku Abubakar to leave PDP and formed the Action Congress, AC now Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. In spite of the heap of public insults Atiku gave to Obasanjo and his PDP during the sad days, the former is back again to PDP to seek for its presidential nomination. These inconsistencies of Atiku might not earn him trust and integrity. For him to come back as President would mean preparing ground for vengeful mission and this will be at the detriment of socio-economic and political development of the country. For now, neither Obasanjo nor Atiku can be trusted again for presidency. So, there is no reason why Nigerians should waste their precious mandate for Atiku Abubakar in the 2011 presidential election even if he has his ways in PDP, which one doubts. 

The recent declaration of Alhaji Bashir Uthman Tofa to vie again for President of this country is a joke carried too far. The Tofa we know is not a man that can make any difference in view of his past political antecedent. Tofa was the presidential candidate of the proscribed National Republican Convention, NRC in the ill-fated June 12, 1993 presidential election. He is an economist but could not successfully run his Century Merchant Bank, which became one of the failed banks in Nigeria. In 1994, Tofa sneaked out of the country to evade the wrath of the late Sani Abacha's axe against failed bank chief executives. He could not also sustain his Pen Newspaper for months before it was packed up. During the June 12, 1993 presidential poll, Bashir Tofa could not win his Gandu Albasa ward as he clearly lost the area to Abiola's SDP though he satirically claimed to be the winner of the controversial June 12, 1993 presidential election annulled by Babangida military regime. Since then, Tofa became obscured from the political scene. He however gained momentum with the launching of his eight Hausa books where he got over N60M, with the highest donation coming from the government of Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau, the man Tofa now wants to challenge in the presidential nomination of All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). Apart from been one time National Financial Secretary of the banned NPN, there is nothing else for Tofa to convince the people of his credibility required for President of Nigeria. He is just merely being used against Shekarau's presidential ambition by certain faction of ANPP, In any case, Tofa is not Shekarau's match and cannot even represent his house, what is more of Nigeria.  Any way, a dog destined to miss road does not listen to the call of its owner.   

The present situation of the country does not also favour the aspiration of the incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who has also signified his intention to announce his presidential aspiration on 18th of this month. With the death of the former President Umar Yar'adua, it is only moral for Jonathan to complete his late boss first tenure and nothing else. Incidentally, his party, PDP had an agreement endorsed in its constitution that after the eight years rule of the south represented by Obasanjo, it would be the turn of the north to produce the next President for the country. It was based on this agreement that Obasanjo was pardoned and released from prison in 1999 by Abubakar Abdulsalam Military administration to contest that year's election. It is also based on this agreement that on completion of his tenure in 2007 by Obasanjo, Alhaji Umar Yar'adua was voted to take the Northern slot. Unfortunately, he could not complete the tenure before he gave up the ghost this year.  

 Because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, President Jonathan backed by Obasanjo refused to live up to the agreement by saying that any body has the right to contest for the presidency, thereby aborting the zoning agreement. By this singular act, Mr. President and Obasanjo want to see north as fool to have accepted the zoning formula in 1999. Why those that are making noise against zoning today did not tell us in 1999 and 2007 that zoning is not appropriate for the country? Were they silent simply because they had not got power in their hands? Incidentally too, these are the same people who have been accusing north as "cabals" because it held on to power. Now that the same power has gone to them, they refuse to let it go because it is 'sweet' to be 'cabal.' What surprised me in the whole issue is that why are the so called leaders practicing dishonesty? If for instance, Obasanjo who ought to be a gentleman and a statesman for that matter went against his words like chameleon changes colour, how does he expect the youth to behave? What moral rectitude do Obasanjo and his type get to tell us any thing and expect us to believe them? This is very unfortunate. 

It is time for the north to know the implication of Obasanjo's metamorphosis over zoning. Let us look at it this way. In 1993, June 12 Presidential election allegedly won by the late MKO Abiola was annulled by the Military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida. For whatever reason was the annulment, the north was castigated for not allowing power to shift from its base. The north was blackmailed into accepting sin it has not committed, dreaded with incessant fear.  The same prominent northerners that Obasanjo and his fellow travelers are fighting today are the ones that rallied round for his release from prison. If out of greed, dishonesty and distrust, Obasanjo is now saying no way to the north, the northerners should take it as a big challenge to them. They should fight back by uniting to vote against PDP that will likely produce Jonathan as its candidate in the January 22 presidential election. If they failed on this, the northerner should simply forget about their future. Our future is in our hands, we must not allow it to slip away no matter the blackmail. In 1999 and 2003, the north claimed that it is the region that paved the way for Obasanjo's victory and true, it was the north that gave mass support to Obasanjo at a time his people neglected him. Having realized that feat, Obasanjo has now turned his back against the north, perhaps, saying that after all, the north can no longer be a deciding factor, since in his abysmal thought, he has created 'disunity' among the ranks and files of the north. This is why I said a challenge has been thrown into the cot of the north and it is left to the region to make or mar.   

Mr. President's insistence on contesting the January 2011 presidential election instead of being a neutral umpire and cashing on the death of his boss should lead him to fall flat so that it will teach others of such vaulting ambition some lesson. This should be in addition to his anti-people's government he has been running since the death of his boss. Most importantly, we cannot see the needed progress cum socio-economic and political transformation in the Jonathan/Sambo ticket for 2011 in view of their poor performances so far. All what we have seen is kidnapping, insecurity, unemployment, corruption, insensitivity to the yearning and aspiration of the people, failed promises, desperation, greed, avarice, strikes in government agencies that provide social services, jail breaking, power/energy failure, etc. How can we continue like this just because of one man's desperate ambition based on opportunism? 

Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau is the only presidential aspirant that should earn the mandate of Nigerians because he is the only aspirant that is detribalized, peaceful, dynamic, ethnically and religiously unbiased, accommodating, progressive, trusted, hard working, easygoing, composed, forgiving and prudent. All these attributes are without prejudice. His principle of one Nigeria, one destiny is unshaken. He has always spoken of collective interest. For a man in his capacity to hold Kano for two consecutive terms as its Chief Executive is no mean an achievement. Shekarau holds no grudges against any body even if you offend him. It is on record that his opponents are always comfortable criticizing him than those they like because they know pretty well that he only listens to one's opinion and take to correction where necessary. Shekarau is tremendously loved by whoever wants Nigeria to grow because they know that Shekarau does not believe in vengeful mission. It is normal for a hard working governor like Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State to have pocket of people who still see him from the negative point of view but the fact remains that Shekarau is an achiever and performer per excellence, ambassador of peace, consistent, democratic, dependable, dedicated and principled, impeccably transparent, intelligent, nationalistic, security conscious, technology personified and vibrant reconciler.  

The vision of Shekarau for Nigeria is to see the country as a place where justice and fairness is the practice, a country where all forms of corrupt practices are reduced and curtailed, and a country where people are engaged in meaningful development, a country where smuggling is countered and checked. Shekarau wants to build a virile nation where every one will be proud to stay and work, a country where kidnapping and other social vices are tackled heads on and indeed where ethnic religious crises and the naughty issue of citizenship, indigeneship are nipped in the bud. The country has the wherewithal to make all these changes possible. Still, Shekarau is not happy that after 50 years of the country's independence, her people are still groaning in perpetual slavery because they could not achieve their hope and aspiration. Today, politicking has virtually taken over economic advancement and this has made us a laughing stock of other developing countries, which Shekarau hopes to correct. Virtually, all other presidential contestants have had one opportunity or the other to make change but they squandered such opportunity and how dare they want to come back again. This is why Governor Ibrahim Shekarau is more qualified to get Nigerians' made in 2011 presidential election than the others.   

Already, majority of Nigerians are of the strong view that those who have got the opportunity to preside over the country in the past should step aside for the new blood leaders to take the country to the Promised Land. Here, persons like Babangida, Buhari, and Atiku have been passionately advised by men of wisdom to keep off and act as statesmen. In any case, with the declaration of President Jonathan to contest under PDP, Babangida and Atiku are already out of the race because PDP might not take either of the two as its presidential candidate. The same fate would befall General Aliyu Gusau, rtd who is also nursing the ambition to contest the presidency under PDP ticket. One is optimistic that in spite of the avoidable crisis in ANPP, Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau will fly the flag of the party. If this happens, it is advisable for Babangida, Atiku and Gusau (who want to show that they care for the north) to ensure that Shekarau is fortified to come out unscathed at the poll so that the north is not disgraced. Even if the trio fails to cooperate, Shekarau's patriotic record of achievements will speak volume for him and will surely see him through in the 2011 presidential contest. In technical terms, Shekarau is the best bet for the north and it is hoped that the north will not shy away from this Shekarau's alternative in the 2011 presidential election.  


Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: sakaraj@yahoo.com




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