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Atiku vs Buhari (2) -Opeyemi Agbaje

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In the first part of this column, I characterized the 2015 election of Muhammadu Buhari as a historical error not supported by his antecedents in policy, administration, economic management, democratic norms and human rights or national ethos, but could only be understood or permitted against the context of then Goodluck Jonathan’s administrations weakness and naivety. I also described the Atiku Abubakar candidacy as complicated on account of his branding (particularly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo) as corrupt and his perception as a typical Nigerian politician.

There are two dimensions of the matter that I reserved for this second part-beyond the “irresponsibility” inherent in asking Buhari to continue his destruction of the Nigerian economy and polity beyond 2019, are there any benefits associated with an Atiku presidency on its own merits? And secondly, what of the ostensible alternatives to Buhari and Atiku? Could Nigerians vote for these others on offer?

It seems to me, and I think most objective observers of Nigerian politics that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the only viable alternative to Buhari in the 2019 presidential elections. There are four major strengths of the Atiku candidacy and potentially presidency, to the Nigerian nation in contradistinction to his opponent-unlike Buhari, Atiku has played the role of uniter and consensus builder since his entry into Nigerian politics. Atiku came into Nigerian politics on the platform of his mentor, late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua’s Peoples Front (PF) which later became Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM). PF/PDM sought allies all over Nigeria and acquired the character of a pan-Nigerian movement with strong membership and support in the South-West, South-East, South-South, North-Central and all across the Northern States. No one could credibly accuse Atiku of playing an ethnic, religious (not to mention sectarian!) or regional card in his political practice since the early 1990s when he came into national reckoning as a presidential candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) of the Babangida transition. It was Atiku by stepping down for the late M. K. O Abiola who made Abiola’s presidential candidacy of the SDP possible and in effect his victory in the aborted June 12 1993 elections. He has since then cemented his image as a national and cosmopolitan politician with friends and allies all over the country.

Atiku is also very competent in policy, economy and administration. He is a well-known and successful businessman and employer who understands markets and economic management, as he proved as Vice President under Obasanjo. It was not co-incidence that the arrow-heads of the economic team of that era (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Nasir El-Rufai, Chukwuma Soludo, Fola Adeola, Nuhu Ribadu etc.) were either recruited by or gravitated towards Abubakar who also facilitated the mostly successful privatisation and liberalisation agenda of the Obasanjo government. As a student of economic policy in Nigeria, I have observed that Atiku is one of the few politicians of that generation who can identify with free enterprise, investment, deregulation and liberalisation, and markets as core elements of economic policy and management.

Atiku has also become the only national contestant for the presidency who has anchored his aspiration on a firm undertaking to restructure Nigeria’s constitution along the lines of federalism. He has clearly thought through the issue and understands why federalism is imperative for economic growth, national unity and cohesion, and sustainable development in Nigeria. Another benefit of an Atiku candidacy or presidency is that it offers a much-need transitional figure who can be a bridge across Nigeria’s generational, regional, religious and ethnic divides. You can easily picture Nigerians of all ages, sexes, religions, regions and ethnic groups around Atiku, unlike his main opponent who has not been able to transcend his provincial and sectarian inclinations. As much as we need a transition of national leadership to a younger, more educated, less ethnically-focused and more urbane generation, Atiku strikes one as a figure who can bridge that transition and hopefully help identify and nurture that future leadership class. It does not hurt that Atiku Abubakar has the material resources and network of relationships to mount a strong, determined and effective challenge to the APC’s looming political hegemony! As I wrote in the previous part, he has already transformed a race that may have been written-off in favour of Buhari into a balanced and competitive contest. The point of all these is that there is some substantive merit in an AtikuAbubakar Presidency beyond “anyone but Buhari!”

Finally we must consider the case for considering the so-called alternatives-Omoyele Sowore, Fela Durotoye, Donald Duke, Oby Ezekwesili, Eunice Atuejide, Kingsley Muoghalu et al. I have thought long and hard on this issue…and I would have to conclude that there is no reasonable pathway to the presidency for any candidate other than Atiku or Buhari. None other has the platform, network, resources or organisation to mount a credible challenge against Buhari. In effect their strategic positioning would amount to a de facto undermining of the Atiku candidacy as well as implicit support for Buhari! In any event, many of the alternatives either bear some moral responsibility for the Buhari error of 2015, or lack the moral credibility to attack the PDP, which they either served happily under or benefitted tremendously from! In some notorious cases, both disqualifications apply!

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From Boardroom To Politics, Ex-First Bank Boss Eyes Oyo Governor’s Seat

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Adesola Adeduntan, the erstwhile Managing Director of First Bank has been named as one of the would-be successors of the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde come 2027.

 

The banker who was allegedly eased out of banking for some undisclosed misdemeanors is claimed to have began consultations as he charts a new path in politics.

 

Sources hinted that Adeduntan had been interested in an elective position but his participation was measured because of his banking career. But now, the coast is clear and he is already aligning himself with some stakeholders ahead of 2027.

 

A list of names including Ilaji boss, Dotun Sanusi, Taofeek Arapaja, Stanley Olajide and many more has features as interested minds gunning for the number one seat in Oyo, a list Adeduntan has recently joined.

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Ex First Bank Boss, Afonja Dies In Auto Crash

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-Femi Bamgbose

 

Details have emerged on Monday, 20th May, 2024 regarding the tragic death of a former Chairman of First Bank Plc, Ajibola Afonja.

 

The 82 year-old man was said to have died in a car accident.

 

The accident occurred somewhere around Oyo town.

 

Sources hinted papermacheonline that the former Minister popularly known by his company name ‘IDS’ Integrated Dimensional System was rushed to the University College Hospital, Ibadan where he eventually gave up the ghost.

 

The news spread like wildfire within the society circle across Oyo State where Afonja was highly revered.

 

Family sources claimed he would be buried today according to Islamic rites.

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‘How Yahaya Bello Withdrew Almost $1M From Kogi Account To Pay Child’s School Fees’ EFCC boss, Olukoyede

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, has revealed that a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, transferred $720,000 from the government’s coffers to a bureau de change before leaving office to pay in advance for his child’s school fee.

 

Olukoyede revealed this during an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

 

He said, “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

 

“In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?”

 

 

Olukoyede further stated that he personally reached out to Bello, offering him a chance to clarify the situation in a respectful setting within the EFCC office but the ex-governor reportedly declined to cooperate, citing fears of harassment from an unnamed woman.

 

The EFCC boss added, “I didn’t initiate the case; I inherited the case file. I called for the file, and I said there are issues here.

 

“On my own, I called him, which I am not supposed to do, just to honour him as an immediate past governor. ‘Sir, there are issues. I’ve seen this case file. Can you just come let us clarify these issues?’

 

 

“He said, ‘Ha! Thank you, my brother. I know, but I can’t come. There’s one lady that has surrounded EFCC with over 100 people to come and embarrass me and intimitade me.’

 

Bello was said to have suggested that the EFCC come to his village rather than conduct an investigation at the agency’s quarters.

 

“I said if that is the issue, I’m going to pass you through my own gate, and you will come to my floor. We will accord you that respect. I will invite my operatives; they will interrogate and interview you in my own office. What could be more honourable than that to allay the fear?

 

“You know what he said: ‘Thank you, sir, but can’t they come to my village? Olukoyede added.

 

The chairman also highlighted the agency’s achievements during his tenure, stating, “We have recovered close to 120 billion and secured over 1,600 convictions in six months.

 

“I’m so passionate about the need for us to move forward in this country. We need the EFCC to survive. There are so many victims that we have wiped tears off their eyes, people that have been swindled in their millions. Every day, we keep recovering money for victims.”

 

PUNCH Online reports that the EFCC chairman, Olukoyede, has vowed to resign from his position if Yahaya Bello is not prosecuted.

 

The EFCC is seeking to arraign Bello on 19 counts bordering on alleged money laundering, breach of trust, and misappropriation of funds to the tune of N80.2 billion.

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