By Wole Olujobi
In the politics of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) where self-interest towers above national interest, there are daggers in PDP’s men’s smiles, warned Michael Achimugu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s media aide, in a recent media expose of his boss who he alleged was in the presidential race to enrich himself and members of his family.
Achimugu alleged that as Nigerians thirst for good governance, and even as discontent swells over power shift brouhaha between North and South as recommended by the National Conference and adopted by the leading political parties in the country, personal ambition of his boss, including those of members of his family, is Atiku’s motivation for his aspiration at the Nigerian Presidency.
He cautioned that voting for his former boss is like a willing and deliberate journey to the Golgotha that offers no hope for redemption, and the safest way for Nigerians is to ‘run away’ from Atiku at polls to avoid a poisoned chalice dressed in redemptive accoutrements.
For Achimugu, running away from Atiku is no act of cowardice, but a tactical device to tame a comprador for Nigerians to enjoy the benefits of visionary and selfless leadership in the nation’s democratic governance.
What Achimugu did is also in sync with other lessons of history as explained in both farcical world of make-believe and actual reality of life in governance process.
Achimugu was probably reading the mind of Malcolm, William Shakespeare’s character in ‘Macbeth’, who warns his brother Donalbain that “the murderous shaft that is shot (in the air) has not yet alighted, and our safest way is to avoid the aim….”
Malcolm reasoned that to escape Macbeth’s world is the best in the circumstances of the time, surmising that “there is warrant in that theft that steals itself when there is no mercy left”.
The rhetoric here is not different from the moral in the same Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’when Cassius led other Roman noblemen in assault to tame Caesar from becoming a vicious and monstrous potentate.
Achimugu had done his country a profound patriotic duty and it is left for Nigerians and the laws that govern them to transcribe the scandal in plain language for the benefit of the nation’s legal system. As it is said, to be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.
If the voices of reason among some Ukrainian partisans had not been muted by a complex power game that produced former President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine in the February 14 2010 election, the troubled Russian neighbour would probably have been at peace with herself today and hunger will not ravage the world.
After he emerged the President on February 14, the then new Ukrainian leader showed no virtue consistent with the February 14 St Valentine’s Day graces, such as love for his people; instead, Yanukovych’s appetite for wealth knew no bounds, as he and his family simply stole Ukraine dry just the same way that the Nigeria’s controversial 1999 election threw up a raft of challenges that have held Nigeria’s fortunes down by the Nigerian potentates of the right.
According to the Transparency International, the former Ukraine President stole over $40 billion in state assets, as he and government officials from his party made huge amounts of money to disappear via a network of shell companies like we have seen in Nigeria with the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) through which top officials of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration allegedly fleeced the nation as explained by Atiku in the audio tape.
Yanukovych lived a luxurious life at the expense of Ukrainian citizens. He had an estate spreading around 137 hectares, with a private zoo, ostrich farm, and a golf course.
The Yanukovych family, a group of young businessmen described as “robber capitalists”, were buying up both public and private businesses at “rock bottom” prices available in the stagnating economic conditions brought on by Yanukovych’s economic policies like we witnessed in Nigeria through Atiku-led privatisation scheme between 1999 and 2007.
Yanukovych’s son, Oleksandr Viktorovych Yanukovych, a shrewd businessman, became one of the richest men in Ukraine during his father’s time in office, leading a group known as “the family” and another conglomerate called Management Assets Company (MAKO).
This is not different from the alleged ambition of Atiku’s children (31 of them), who were reported on tape to romanticise potential sufferings among Nigerians while they hope to live in affluence and opulence of billionaires. While an average Nigerian desires basic necessities of life, such as food and shelter, Atiku’s 31 children allegedly plot the robbery of hapless Nigerians to become billionaires at all costs and by means if their father is elected as President.
In another history of huge scam in government, the Malaysian government established a development fund called Malaysia Development Berhad (MDB), another three-letter devil acronym like in Atiku’s SPV, through which citizens lose their lives and fortunes to their leaders. Prime Minister Najib Razak took the fund at the time. The idea was to use strategic investments to improve the Malaysian economy. But MDB served Razak and a few others more than the citizens.
Like Atiku’s SPV through which Nigerians were duped, President Razak of Malaysia used a web of shell companies to transfer billions from the development fund that led to over $700 million in his private accounts. Razak claimed it was a gift from a Saudi prince, like Joshua Dariye’s N100m was paid into Marine Float owned by a shadowy bank holder for the private enjoyment of PDP leaders.
There is nothing bad in creating special fund account for the benefit of all citizens, for instance, the Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account; but creating fraudulent accounts to steal common wealth is the very devil that must be punished by “hanging” through the instrumentality of the law.
Constitutional lawyer and APC’s spokesman, Festus Keyamo, has pointed our attention to the Nigerian laws that Atiku’s alleged conduct has offended. He listed Money Laundering Act, EFCC Act and Code of Conduct Act as the laws that must apply in Atiku’s case. All these legal codes were formulated to guide against unwholesome practices that can lead Nigeria to the Golgotha of bankruptcy.
But can Nigeria afford a bankruptcy
similar to that of investment bank Lehman Brothers in the United States, with $600 billion in assets that failed in the late 2008, precisely on September 15, 2008 in New York?
According to available records, it was the largest bankruptcy in history and a spark to the worldwide financial crisis just like a bankruptcy in Nigeria will be a bankruptcy to the African continent, Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa. Can Nigeria afford to be bankrupt? Can Nigerians afford to entrust their country in the hands of corrupt leaders whose passion is sure journey to bankruptcy?
I was one of those accusing Obasanjo of vindictive conduct over his dislike for Atiku over alleged corruption, but that opinion has since changed after listening to Atiku himself on tape explaining in plain language how he plotted the fleecing of his country in spite of his leadership position that should ordinarily elicit responsible conduct.
So far, there is nothing to suggest that Atiku has imbibed conduct that can elicit confidence among Nigerians that PDP is a credible alternative to APC in the next dispensation.
After the story of his SPV scandal broke, instead of sobriety expected from the villains caught red-handed at the scene of crime, what we have seen is a stone-faced, audacious bravery among PDP’s partisans that the Lawrence Aninis and Monday Osunbors would not contemplate when they held forte in the cruel underworld in Nigeria when citizens lost their possessions in daylight robberies.
While PDP’s media handlers resorted to the old tricks that had long been buried in the dustbins of hackneyed propaganda, other leaders of PDP lapsed into ridiculous public shows in anger against Tinubu as if the APC’s presidential candidate was the one who sold the SPV idea that has put Atiku and his men on the black page of the Nigerian history, that now threatens their ascendancy to the throne again.
Atiku’s spokesman, Dino Melaye, a knight of the streets, who courts troubles as if violence is a virtue in democratic governance, upped the ante of such irresponsible conduct few days ago when he led some thugs to burn Bola Tinubu/Kashim Shettima’s campaign materials.
It is on record that Melaye, a rancorous, foppish dandy with the sinews of a buffalo, had rioted several times, clawing at the throats of the opposition, even as he had in the past repeatedly menaced members of his own political party who shared divergent views on mundane issues.
But such garrulous temperament rarely wins election, particularly for a candidate that is perceived as a blight to the scheme for national redemption. Is thuggery by arson a better way to convince voters that their interests will be served if Nigerians have the misfortune to elect Atiku? If PDP leaders had done violence to the nation’s coffers, must they continue to deploy violence as a means of asserting themselves as a credible alternative as Nigerians brace to elect a President that respects the best international practices in democratic governance in the civil society?
These are the reasons why people should wisely elect credible leaders that know and understand their pains and are ready to ameliorate the sufferings instead of giving power to those that are likely to abuse it like before.
Great that more top opposition leaders are seeing the light and are defecting to APC in unprecedented leaps in the last few weeks! Men of good will, determination, candour and vision must continue to coalesce in APC to join the Jagaban and Alhaji Kashim Shettima to rescue Nigeria from the pangs of want and hopelessness that PDP founded on a solid, treacherous rock between 1999 and 2014 in Nigeria. Nigerians cannot afford the current world economic crisis to be managed by the very source and fountain of Nigeria’s economic problems.
It is plain that PDP leaders cannot be trusted with power. The last time, they served themselves through their monstrous Special Purpose Vehicle ( SPV) to defraud Nigeria. And proto, the captain and his goalkeeper held amazing fortunes, and from the ashes of their businesses sprang best of the private universities in Nigeria.
APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was once trusted with power in Lagos and he delivered unmatched dividends for the most populous and complex state in Nigeria. A vote for Tinubu is a vote for prosperity and responsible leadership, to deactivate the automation of poverty that PDP has foisted on Nigeria through their monstrous Special Purpose Vehicle that drove Nigeria to the cliff of precipice and poverty.
These dangerous drivers of Special Purpose Vehicle must be stopped from driving Nigeria’s political and economic ship to prevent a reckless ride to the Golgotha that holds no hope for redemption. Nigeria should not be a trading place to fund the excesses of PDP leaders and their families while millions of Nigerians suffer in penury and the nation driven to bankruptcy propelled by poverty of visionary leadership.
Olujobi is Deputy Director, Media and Publicity,
Ekiti State APC Presidential Election Committee