Prove corruption allegations against me or shut up – Atiku
Buhari, APC used and dumped me after 2015 elections
This came after the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, publicly declared her support for Atiku’s presidential quest in 2019.
The minister said she would support the ex- vice president even if President Buhari decides to seek re-election in 2019.
The foremer Vice President, in an interview on the Voice of America (VOA)’s Hausa Service, said he had been abandoned in spite of his efforts in making sure that the APC defeated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they are but three years down the lane, this is where we are.”
However, he applauded the president on the successes recorded so far in the fight against Boko Haram, but said it was not yet time to celebrate because a lot is yet to be done and “the ruling government had failed in many fronts.
“Yes, there were successes but not comprehensive success because the Boko Haram miscreants are still very active, killing our people and many local government councils in Borno and Yobe are under their firm grip. People cannot dare go back to their dwellings,” he said.
Source: The Nation
2019: Buhari’s minister in Villa, insists on backing Atiku
Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Fidelis Soriwei and Eniola Akinkuotu
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Alhassan, on Thursday, said that there was no going back on her decision to support former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election.
Alhassan, who stated this in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, said, “Let the will of God be done.”
The minister, who was sighted at the villa at 2.24pm, was not seen by President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The minister, had on Wednesday, said she was ready to support the former vice-president in the 2019 election against Buhari.
Alhassan had, in an interview on the BBC Hausa Service, said that although she respected Buhari, Atiku remained her godfather.
She also confirmed her statement in a leaked video, where, during a private meeting with Atiku, endorsed the former vice-president.
Also in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, she stated that Buhari had said that he would spend only one term in office.
She said that before the 2015 elections, Buhari promised that he would spend only one term in office to clean up the mess of the Peoples Democratic Party’s government.
It was not clear if the minister was summoned to the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
Alhassan was seen leaving the Office of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who was said not to be on seat at the time she came.
When asked by State House correspondents to react to media reports credited to her that she would support Atiku in 2019, Alhassan, while walking to her car, referred newsmen to the interview she granted the BBC Hausa Service. She said her position had not changed.
Alhassan said, “No, I have no comment. What will I say now? I have said all in BBC Hausa. Get someone who speaks Hausa very well to translate it for you.”
On her relationship with Buhari now, she asked, “How will I know? I have not seen the President but I don’t think the President is a naive person.”
On whether she was confident that she could retain her job, she replied, “God gives and God takes. That is all and I have said it all in Hausa. You know that there is an end to everything.”
She also responded to Buhari supporters, who said she was not loyal to the President. Alhassan said. “Let the will of God be.”
Attempts to make Alhassan to disclose the purpose of her visit to the villa did not succeed. In an SMS sent to her she was asked if she was summoned to the villa or she was there on her volition. She did not pick the calls to her mobile telephone line. Also, the minister had not responded to the text message on the issue as of the time of filing this report by 8.30pm
It was learnt the minister walked around the Villa but the purpose of her visit could not be ascertained as of press time.
A top source at the Villa said, “She came to the Office of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, but he was not around so she left almost immediately. She was walking over the place and then we didn’t see her again.”
The source said everyone was waiting to see what Buhari would do.
He added, “There is supposed be a cabinet reshuffle soon and maybe she knows she might be asked to leave and that is what is giving her the effrontery to act in such a manner.
“Anyway, we are all waiting to see what President Buhari will do. He will also look at the security and political implication of having someone who is not loyal to you in your cabinet.”
The Presidency and the APC again on Thursday kept mum on Alhassan’s comments about the 2019 elections and Atiku’s criticism of the ruling party.
Atiku, had on Wednesday in an interview on the Hausa Service of the Voice of America, said he had been sidelined by the APC-led Federal Government.
He had said that he used his contacts and resources to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015.
Atiku had said, “Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved.
“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was sidelined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they’re but three years down the lane, this is where we are,” Atiku said.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, declined comment on Atiku and Alhassan’s statements. “We have no comment at the moment,” he said.
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he would not comment on the matter.
“As I said before, I cannot comment on the issue,” he said.
Source : The Punch
2019: Minister pledges to back Atiku against Buhari
Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Eniola Akinkuotu, Leke Baiyewu and Olaleye Aluko
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, has declared her readiness to support former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s bid for the Presidency against President Muhammadu Buhari if the former decides to contest in 2019.
Alhassan, in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service on Wednesday, said she respected Buhari, but stated that Atiku remained her godfather.
The minister had, in a leaked video on social media, endorsed the former vice-president for the 2019 presidential election.
According to the leaked video, Alhassan endorsed Atiku when she led a delegation on a private visit to the former vice-president on an undisclosed day during the last Sallah celebration.
The minister, who spoke in Hausa in the video, said, “Your Excellency, our father and our president by the grace of God come 2019, before you are your people, your supporters for life, the people of Taraba State.
“They are here to pay our homage and to greet you on the occasion of Sallah and for all that Allah has done to you because Allah has raised your status.”
On Wednesday, Alhassan, in the BBC Hausa Service interview, confirmed that she would support Atiku in 2019.
The minister added that Buhari had not told anybody that he would contest the 2019 presidential election.
She, however, said even if the President decide to contest the election, she would support Atiku for the presidency.
Alhassan stated, “Since I was in the civil service, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, has been my mentor and godfather. He has remained so even now that I have joined politics. There is a reason for every political relationship.
“Secondly, Baba Buhari has not told anybody that he is contesting in 2019. I can assure you that today, if Baba Buhari says he is going to contest, walahi tallahi (I swear by Allah), I will go and kneel down before him and say ‘Baba, I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve as minister in your administration but Baba, like you know, Atiku is my godfather’.
“If Atiku says he is going to contest, but he too has not said he will contest… Why I said (Atiku) ‘our President come 2019’ is that we expect that he will contest, but he has not told us he will contest. But if he contests, I will go and do what I just told you I will do.”
Alhassan said she was not a hypocrite, adding that Buhari was aware of her relationship with Atiku.
“I am not one to betray trust. If I now say I have no business with Atiku, even Baba Buhari will have doubts about me, he will say ‘this one is a betrayer of trust,” the minister stated.
In response to a question on if it was not too early to talk about 2019, Alhassan popularly called mama Taraba, said, “I said what I said when we went to pay Sallah homage to (Atiku). Is it before him that I am going to campaign? The issue of campaign does not arise.
“Even me, people are calling me to go and contest but I tell them this is the tiome for governance. This (leak) is the handiwork of my detractors, those who are asking that I should be removed as minister.”
Alhassan believed the ministerial appointment she got was the work of God, adding that whatever happened to a person was destined by Allah.
She stressed, “Is Baba (Buhari) a mad man like them? They have been sharing this (video) using their mobile telephones, saying that ‘if Baba sees this one, he will sack her’. He will not sack me on account of this unless I commit an offence.
“I am doing my job as minister honestly. I defend this administration because it is a government of my party – the APC and Baba is our President whom I respected long before I joined partisan politics. I respect him as President and I will continue to respect him as a man of integrity until I die.
“Those who are saying I will be sacked will be put to shame. Even if I am sacked, it is Allah’s will; I never lobbied for it. It was Allah who gave it to me.”
Presidency, APC decline comments
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, declined comment.
Also, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, neither returned to one of our correspondents’ telephone calls nor a text message sent to him.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he could not comment on the issue.
“I don’t want to comment on the issue please,” he said.
The Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, said she wasn’t competent to speak on the matter.
“I believe I’m the least person qualified to speak on an issue such as that. If the situation changes, I’ll let you know. Many thanks,” Onochie stated.
Sources in the Presidency said Buhari’s media team had been instructed not to speak on the matter but to leave the minister to handle the issue.
Endorsement of ex-VP shows executive decadence, indiscipline –Junaid
But a Second Republic lawmaker and northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said the endorsement of Atiku by Alhassan showed lack of discipline and the decadence within the executive arm of the Federal Government.
He stated, “Let me be honest with you. The step by the minister is very unfortunate and it is a very serious indication of the decadence and lack of discipline within the executive branch.
“This is because being a minister is a privilege granted by the President to any individual, whether in the same party or not.
“It is important to also consider the fact that loyalty pays in whatever one does in life. It is not something that the political party should be happy about.
“I sincerely hope that the President will take this as a sign of warning that something is missing within his political party.”
Resign if you want to work for Atiku, Shehu Sani tells minister
The lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, however, advised Alhassan to leave Buhari’s cabinet if she want to work with Atiku.
He condemned the criticism that followed the open admittance of her loyalty to the former vice-president, saying the minister was better than others in the Buhari’s government who were nursing political ambitions and were undermining the administration.
Sani stated, “The difference between that woman, who made the statement as a minister and others, is that she was open and others are still having it in their minds.
“If she is prepared to work for the former vice-president, I think in the event that this President contests (again) or not, she can easily excuse herself from this government and concentrate on what she believes in in 2019.”
Source: The Punch
As We Begin the Journey to 2019
By Dele Momodu; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fellow Nigerians, unbeknown to many of our people, the battle for who becomes our next President has already started in earnest. Never mind the fact that the incumbent President is still firmly in power even if he’s spent more time outside than inside in recent times. Despite his absence, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to exert almost total control on the affairs of state through regular phone chats with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is deeply loyal and committed to their joint cause, and emissaries who criss-cross the two continents to transmit messages to him and relevant officials. Nonetheless, you can’t blame the gladiators for shaping up this early for the big contest that is looming. It is big because it is unlikely that the current incumbent President will run again because of the fragile state of his health. Like joke, like joke, the Buhari/Osinbajo government is in its third year. By this time next year, the general elections would just be about six months away. That’s just too close for comfort.
The Presidential race is always the biggest deal in most countries, Nigeria in particular. The reason is simple. The President of Nigeria is probably the most powerful black President in the world. This is why you find so many perpetual contestants who never get tired of seeking power. Let me just go straight to the meat of my message without wasting your precious time on any long preamble.
Some aspirants have actually started making subterranean moves, here and there, to prepare the grounds for their eventual launch. The most obvious ones include former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. The boldest and most vocal visible aspirant is the current Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Fayose who has even announced a date for the official declaration of his bid for the Presidency. Fayose seems to have mastered the art and science of politics. He has warned that no one should underrate him. I won’t because nothing is impossible in our clime.
Anyway. Let’s move on. The main cause of the early moves is the general belief in political circles that President Buhari is not likely to contest in 2019. His poor health has virtually eliminated him from the race no matter how much and how well he recovers from his present ailment. I think so too. Baba himself had declared in one of his rare interviews that he’s never been this sick in his life. Only the cruellest human being would advise President Buhari to continue to subject himself to the rigours of the Presidential office when he returns. To add the vagaries of rough and tumble of a Presidential race to his recuperation would be inhuman indeed. God has been very kind to him and there is nothing more to prove or to achieve. Others must carry on the fight as his able Vice President, now Acting President has been doing.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had shown interest in becoming Nigeria’s President since 1993 when he contested the Presidential primaries of the then Social Democratic Party alongside Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Ghana Kingibe. He was persuaded to withdraw from the contest and throw his weight behind Chief Abiola on the basis of his relative youth amongst other things. Age, it was said, was on his side, and he had many years to seek the Presidency. Since then, he has never stopped dreaming and aspiring. Unfortunately, he has always just fallen short! He had made his next move in 2003, after he served as Vice President to President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999. The “abortive coup” (as it was described), to force Obasanjo out and bring Atiku in, by the all-powerful Governors of the time failed spectacularly. The cold war between Atiku and his boss exploded into full view and became a smouldering inferno. Atiku instantly became a marked man. He himself would be forced out of the party he helped to found and had to join others to form another party. But before too long Atiku was compelled by circumstances to scamper back to PDP. Not many felt that was a smart move. He was viewed as being too desperate and unprincipled. This flip-flop has been his major albatross. And he was not yet done! Atiku again jumped ship from the floundering PDP when some five Governors defected and joined the fulcrum of APC. There are already indications that he may be compelled to abandon ship again but where to, we don’t know. Some say that he is grooming PDM for this purpose and has already caused a crisis in his former movement.
There is no doubt that Atiku would make a good leader. He is a seasoned politician who is known to have the ability to unite Nigerians because of his extensive networks across the nation. He also has the penchant for recruiting the best brains to work with. If he becomes the President, he would be bringing in his wealth of experience in public service and private business that is almost second to none. But there are major setbacks against him. One is how to find the detergent to cleanse or unglue himself from the sticky mud his former boss President Obasanjo had generously splashed on him. He’s largely portrayed as a very corrupt and corruptible leader who may lead Nigerians into temptation and perdition with his acolytes. Whether this is a fair assessment or wicked blackmail is his business to deal with but it won’t be so easy to wish or wash away.
Atiku will find it difficult to clinch the APC ticket. There are obvious signs that he has already positioned some of his close associates in PDP, in case of emergency but he may be scammed at the end of the day if he takes the risk of pulling out of his present party. He needs to worry about his age. He has already crossed 70 and it is doubtful if most Nigerians want to be saddled with another old man who may collapse under the brutal weight of presidential stress and pressure. He would require more of a clean bill of health to persuade young Nigerians that he’s not carrying some health liabilities like others in the past. In summary, we have a reasonable bridge-builder and veteran administrator who may be too old and too late in seeking political office.
Next is the former Governor of Kano State, Senator Mohammed Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a man with very vast political and administrative pedigree. He has gone through the whole gamut of governance at both executive and legislative levels. His performance as Governor of the massive state of Kano is an eloquent testimony to the fact that he may be the one to ignite the infrastructural revolution in Nigeria. He cuts the image of a frugal Aminu Kano with his simple mien. His grassroots non-governmental movement known as Kwankwasiyya Pillars of the Nation is well mobilised and may give him an edge over most aspirants. He also has in his favour the fact that Kano State has the highest number of registered voters and may be able to count on garnering a significant number of these. He is also expected to draw strength from his former colleagues in the Governors’ Forum across the nation but no one is sure how relevant they still are. Kwankwaso is 60 years old and falls the under the age of 65 that many want as the upper limit for contestants. On the negative side, he is not likely to have the formidable war chest of an Atiku Abubakar though this did not stop him from beating Atiku to third place in their last APC Primaries.
Say what you will, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, must be factored into the equation by all means. The reason is that he seems to enjoy a special rapport with his ailing boss who may prefer to hand over fully to someone he knows well than risk certainty for uncertainty. Osinbajo has been a very loyal and dependable ally, the sort that are not common in this clime. This is no surprise because his vocation as a lawyer, his service as a teacher and his calling as a Pastor makes him imbued with integrity and dignity. Osinbajo has also succeeded in bringing Nigerians together and calming frayed nerves. His handling of the economy, security and national awareness is quite commendable and many Nigeria’s applaud his brilliance and performance in steering the affairs of state to its present comfortable position. His only worry would come from ethnic jingoists who do not care about merit but prefer only members of their tribe no matter how useless or incompetent they may be.
Osinbajo is likely to be vehemently opposed by such powerful forces who think only about themselves, although it seems to me that the people of the North are not with them on this occasion. There is no question that Osinbajo has restored hope and promise to Nigeria and should ordinarily be allowed to stabilise the polity and lead us out of the doldrums. The fact that he lacks his own political platforms may be a great disadvantage because he would need to lean on his political godfather and kingmaker, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who seems tired of fixing others into positions of power without being the ultimate King of Kings himself. However, Asiwaju is canny and wise and would prefer to be in the hallowed corridors of power with his protégé in charge than be outside it particularly given that he is himself ageing and would be over a couple of years over 65 by the time of the next elections.
There has always been speculation that the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, is interested in being President. He is eminently qualified to do so. The way he has managed the Senate and worked assiduously on churning out unprecedented number of very efficacious bills is a pointer to his effectiveness as a modern and cosmopolitan leader who understands what the people want and how to give it to them. His biggest migraine apart from allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Societe Generale Bank which has seemingly not gone away, is that he comes from Kwara State. The State is geographically Northern but culturally Southern. His father was Olusola. He is Bukola. His wife is Toyin. His sister is Gbemisola. His Brother is Olaolu. His son is Olaseni. No one could be more Yoruba than Saraki. However, surprisingly, despite this great Yoruba credentials, the Yorubas do not also apparently view him as a Yoruba man but as a Northerner. I do not know how he plans to overcome that challenge of being neither cat nor rat.
The Governor of Sokoto State, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, attempted very briefly to run the Presidential race in 2015 but seemed to have chickened out and pulled back to settle for the gubernatorial race, where he eventually emerged successful. It is being mentioned in informed circles that he may still want to try his luck. As a former Speaker of the House of representatives and now Governor, he comes with some intimidating arsenal as e is still clearly well loved by his old constituency, the Federal legislators. It is not certain if he would abandon his almost guaranteed second term as Governor for a not so certain Presidential bid. His antecedents in this regard would persuade me not to expect too much of a change in Tambuwal’s circumstances this time around.
The same goes for one of my favourite leaders, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, one of the most cerebral, experienced and visionary leaders in Nigeria today. He is silently revolutionising Kaduna State although people see more of the controversial stuff coming out of that State because of its highly volatile religious mix of Muslims and Christians. Though he is yet to declare his interest openly, he is someone to watch…
Culled from ThisDay
Atiku: How I Escaped Sack from Customs over 53 Suitcases Saga
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Former Vice President, Alahji Atiku Abubakar, wednesday revealed how he was booted out of his job at the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) over the controversial importation of 53 suit cases into the country in 1984 by a first class traditional ruler in the North.
Atiku, who was the Customs Officer in Charge of the Murtala Muhammed Airport when the suit cases were imported into the country, spoke on
his ordeal during the incident, saying the matter almost cost him his job in Customs.
According to Atiku, the Customs bureaucracy then wanted him fired for confirming a newspaper report about the importation of the suit cases, but that the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Onaolapo Soleye, saved his job.
Speaking at a night of tributes and inauguration of an education endowment fund in memory of the late former Managing Director of Daily Times , Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, the former vice president and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said the then military government prevented the Customs operatives from detaining the suitcases and drove it away in a military truck.
He said: “I was a young officer in 1984 in charge of Murtala Muhammed Airport while Ojo was a correspondent of The Guardian covering the airport. We got to know each other because apparently, there were some things we both believed in. Ojo was radical and I was radical, he believed in transparency and straight forwardness.
“Then this policy of change of the national currency came into effect by the military government. It was on a weekend when the issue of the 53 suit cases came up. I wasn’t at the airport because it was a weekend and I was the officer in charge of the place and so, there were beat officers conducting the affair.
“The plane landed on the VIP section and the ADC to the Head of the federal military government came in with a military truck and personnel and drove straight to the aircraft and offloaded those suit cases and did not allow the Custom officers to do their work, and drove away.
“All the custom officers could do was to make an entry into what we called station dairy. If you are a policeman, custom or military man, you should know what a station diary means. It is a diary where we record all incidents as they happen,” he said
Atiku recalled the role of the late Ojo saying, “because he was such an investigative journalist, he got the report. He wasn’t there and normally, a station dairy is not a public document, but our own document. Somehow, Ojo, because of his inquisitiveness, came to know of that entry and from the extract of that entry, he told the world about the improper importation of 53 suit cases.
“I resumed duty on Monday and was confronted with national headlines about the 53 suit cases and without clearing from my headquarters, I just confirmed that there was such an importation and that investigation was being conducted.
“I was summoned to the headquarters and queried why should I confirm the report, and I said I did because it happened, and I met it in the station dairy. I was threatened with expulsion or dismissal from service and I said I was ready if that was an offence.
“The controversy raged on and the bureaucracy insisted that I should be fired and the then Minister of Finance who happened to be Dr. Soleye, said: ‘What is Atiku’s offence that you want him fired?’ As the minister, he over ruled the bureaucracy and I retained my job.”
The former vice president said the Ojo’s handling of the matter clearly showed the type of person that he was when it came to his work.
“He was completely dedicated to investigating and writing the truth. No matter what you do or try to do, he will go ahead and write the truth.
Since that moment, we struck a very close relationship. When I had the opportunity to work with him again, I did not hesitate to give him an appointment as one of my Special Advisers.
“He was one of the seven or eight PhD holders in my office and I recall my boss calling me one day and asking me, what is it you are doing with all these PhD holders and I said, Mr. President, I like to work with people that I will learn from. If I know that I am not going to learn from you, I will not hire you and work with you.
“Together with the rest, they form the core of my office and of course, in our administration, he knew the impact of my office on our administration. That is a matter for historians to write.”
Speaking on the reason for the endowment fund, he said: “Even if Ojo were to be alive today, he will be working for his family and trying to give the best education for his children. That is why I initiated this educational fund for his three kids.”
Acording to him, “I want to appeal to all of you to think about these kids. We all knew that Ojo left nothing because he was not the kind of person who enjoyed keeping money or wanting money by all means. No matter how small, please contribute to this educational fund,” he said.
Culled from ThisDay