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 on 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 to 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 responding. 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 the 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 around 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 the 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 an acute leadership deficit. A new Nigeria is still possible.
By Casmir Igbokwe
The opinions and views expressed in this write-up are entirely that of the Writer(s). They do not reflect the opinions and views of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or any of its employees. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of materials herein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or its employees concerning the legal status of any country, its authority, area or territory or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers. Equally, the sketches, images, pictures and videos are gotten from the public domain.