Goodbye Awo, welcome Buhari

on August 02, 2015 / in Politics 7:23 am / Comments  (Vanguard Newspaper)
By Gboyega Amoboye

The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and President Muhammadu Buhari might have lived at different times but, like identical twins, possess many things in common-dynamism, pragmatism, integrity, self- discipline, vision and passion-to make Nigeria work. The impeccable past of these tested leaders has proved that the bane of the country’s slow development since independence has been lack of purposeful leadership.

Unlike the reluctant leaders who had been imposed on us, Awolowo and Buhari, both armed with impeccable records of performance, the former as Premier of the old Western Region as well as Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council in the regime of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, and the latter, as a military Head of State, etc, adequately prepared for the leadership of Nigeria. Three times were each unsuccessful- Awolowo in 1959, 1979, 1983 and President Buhari in 2003, 2007 and 20011.

Their paths might have crossed in one form or the other, that may been the unseen hand of God in their lives preparatory to the task ahead that :”You Obafemi Awolowo is my Moses and you Muhammadu Buhari, my Joshua, for the libration of your people from the ‘rats and mosquitoes’ of your country”. Or could it be by sheer coincidence that, for the first time since independence, both the North and the South West are in effective political alliance? The Thomas’s may continue to doubt.

Like the Nostradamus that he was, Awolowo, in a paper delivered in Kano in 1970,had proposed a seven- point agenda which he called national objectives that should be implemented simultaneously in all the states of the federation for the rapid and even development of the country. He explained that the revenue allocation formula should be based on the implementation of the seven objectives and, by so doing, put an end to the “endless search for the appropriate allocation formula”. He was speaking in a paper titled, Revenue Allocation Must be Based on Even Progress and Needs, delivered in his capacity as the Federal Commissioner of Finance, to the annual conference of state commissioners of finance.

As if confirming the link between these great national heroes, Buhari recently implemented item seven of the Awolowo’s seven- point objectives for national development of 45 years ago and, by so doing, been praised for “bailing” out states that could not pay workers salaries. The late sage had said under this item that it was imperative to put the federal government in sufficient funds to enable it not only to perform its allotted functions but also to come readily to the aid of any state in need while arguing: “But perchance any state falls on evil day, it would be the duty of the federal government, acting as an accredited agent of all the states, to come to the aid of such a needy state without delay…

Before leaving this topic , one may ask Buhari’s critics where they were when former President Goodluck Jonathan granted some members of the private sector a bail out. For instance, Arik Airline got 600m dollars, Aero -200m dollars, Air Nigeria-225.8mdollars, Chachangi-55m dollars etc.(AMCON) in addition to an attempt to buy aircrafts for them but for adverse public opinion.

Revisiting the Awo agenda

If one of Awolowo’s seven objectives has been considered well enough for implementation, the remaining six, which may equally be as good, are therefore presented though in abridged form, for consideration by Mr. President. They are-full employment, free education at all levels and free health services for all, modernisation of agriculture and rural development, rapid industrialization of each state and rapid development of system of transportation. Owing to the relevance of Awolowo’s paper to the Nigeria of today, I had, at the formation of the All Progressive Party (APC), dropped a copy of it for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at his office, Freedom House, Victoria Island, for possible incorporation into the APC manifesto.

Discussing full employment, Awolowo called for full exploitation and efficient utilization of minerals resources as well as modernization of agriculture explaining that the country’s capability for phenomenal growth was tremendous and colossal. He warned that anything short of full employment which could only be provided by exploitation of mineral resources and agriculture, would be an admission of failure on the part of Nigerian leaders “ that they are not equal to their admittedly difficult but at the same time inspiring and manageable assignment”.

Whenever we talk of merely reducing employment and not stamping it out he said, “The question which I always ask myself is- who are the unfortunate victims we are planning to keep on the unemployment market?”Like Awolowo, bailing out distressed states could be regarded as Buhari’s demonstration of love for workers too.

On modernization of agriculture, and industrialization, the sage, supporting his argument with characteristic statistics, said to achieve any of the ambitious projection, the country’s agriculture must be modernized and mechanized in a bold and massive manner. “We shall need to invest heavily in tractors, mechanical ploughs and riggers, fertilizers, pest control, irrigation, research into high yielding grains and cattle ranches, fishing trawlers, etc”. Awolowo, however, cautioned that none of the states could alone afford the level of investment involved without the intervention of the federal government acting in concert simultaneously with all the states.

As for industrialisation, he argued, that a properly developed agriculture in every state would lead to development of agro- allied industries automatically as well as manufacturing industries and consequently, disappearance of uneven location of industries. He however warned that between agriculture and industries, the choice should be agriculture to eradicate unemployment explaining that while industries if properly managed could provide employment for 220,000 workers in the next 12 years, agriculture would provide employment for six million within five years. Seeing 2015 way back in 1970, Chief Awolowo warned that “if it is the ardent and burning desire of those of us in the vanguard of public life to serve our age and the next generation faithfully, our area of concentration must ipso facto be agriculture.”


But how could uneducated and unhealthy population be productive? This was the concern of Awolowo as he canvassed as ever, for free education at all levels and free medical services for all, arguing: “Man is the alpha and omega of production and therefore indispensable to rapid economic progress, political stability and social harmony. The more educated and healthy he becomes the more productive he becomes as an economic agent and more effective as a member of the society”. He dismissed the fear that money would be the problem but adequate manpower and called for immediate planning.

On development of system of transportation, Awolowo said, “While the northern and riverine areas of the country, for social and economic reasons, lag behind in transportation development and should be therefore given a special attention henceforth, the crucial point of convergence for most transportation activities were those adjacent to the ports of Port-Harcourt, Calabar, Sapele,Warri, Escravos, Lagos and Apapa. It follows from this fact that the development of those roads within the areas of the Mid-West, Eastern, Western and Lagos Region which give access to the ports, is of concern to all of the states in the federation.” Predicting the chaotic situations of the roads witnessed today, Awolowo warned: “Any transportation difficulties in these areas are bound to constitute time- wasting bottle-necks of the worst order.”

The question may be asked, of what relevance is the vision of 1970 to 2015? The answer may be found in the reality that Nigeria has not been blessed with a visionary and patriotic leader since the Gowon era of 1970,who could harness the common wealth for the benefit of all her citizens as Chief Awolowo did for his people as the Premier of the Western Region. The metaphysical and psychological relationship between Awolowo and Buhari has shown that for the country to attain its potentials, there is an urgent need for another visionary, competent and honest leader like Awolowo, who Nigerians have found in Buhari, a man who came to power with tons of ‘universally acknowledged’ credibility that was uncommon with his fore runners.

Apparently in tandem with Awolowo, Buhari has already indicated that he would continue from where the sage stopped. Apart from”bailing” out distressed states, the President told the Nigerian community during his four-day visit to the United States: “The All Progressives Congress administration would fulfil its three-pronged campaign manifesto of providing security, turning around the economy with major focus on youth employment and fighting corruption.” He said agriculture and mining would receive priority as a faster job- creating avenues for the teeming unemployed youths.

Those who could not see yet any difference in electricity supply in the past two months may equally not find the correlation between Awolowo’s economic road map and that of Buhari. The sad news however is that if the projection of 1970 is still relevant in2015, it means the past 45 years has been that of the locusts and caterpillars due to bad governance. It is therefore not a surprise that Nigerians have unanimously voted for a statesman they could trust to remake the country. Good-bye Awo, welcome Buhari.

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How I escaped Orkar’s coup – Ibrahim Babangida

on August 17, 2015 / in Achebe: Exit of a literary giant, Interview, News, Politics 6:29 am (Vanguard Newspaper)

Ahead of his 74th birthday today, erstwhile military president, General Ibrahim Babangida had an interactive session with journalists in Minna, Niger State. In the revealing interview he opens up on his response to the coup plot led by Major Gideon Orkar in April 1990, the Dimka coup plot earlier in 1976, his assessment of the unfolding Muhammadu Buhari led administration and of his thoughts towards his one time friend, Chief Moshood Abiola among other things.

SIR, is it true that you are from Ogbomosho, a claim that is backed by assertion that your second name ‘Badamasi’ was coined from the Yoruba name Gbadamosi? Please can you clear the air?
General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd),

I appreciate your concern. I had to answer the question way back in November 1962. I answered the question during my final year in secondary school when I had to answer that question and 52 years later, I am glad I am answering the same question.

The truth is that I hail from here, Niger State. My parents were from between Wushishi and this town (Minna). My grandparents travelled to settle down here and I think that that says it all but there is nothing wrong in being from any part of the country. The truth is that I hail from Niger State.

Indigene of Niger State

My grandparents and great grandparents moved from somewhere to settle down in Niger State. There are some who still call us settlers in Niger State and that we are not indigenes of the state because our grandparents came from somewhere to settle here but having lived all my 74 years in Niger State, I think I am more than qualified to be called an indigene of Niger State.

What is your reaction to reported claims by U.S. officials that Nigerian troops were not properly trained to fight Boko Haram?

I must admit that a lot of us were trained in America, so it is not anything new to talk about training because they knew they had trained people. I was trained in America, I was in a place called Portsmouth in Kentucky where I did my senior officers course, so you can see that a lot of us were trained in America. They are right but there is an old saying that says, no matter the sophisticated weapons we have, the man behind the weapon really matters. I appreciate what they are trying to do.

Are you satisfied by the Federal Government’s renewed fight against insurgents? ( cuts in sharply)

Yea, they have to be fought. I think the renewed effort and fight the Federal Government is doing is commendable.

 But it was thought that the insurgents had been routed at the end of the Jonathan administration. So, what do you think may have happened that gave them fire as President came on board?

I think there is a general misunderstanding of the whole concept of insurgency. You can call it anything, instability, terrorism. The fact is that we are not fighting a regular army where you can confront them with sheer use of force and weapons to overwhelm the enemy.

No, we have gotten a small trained army whose tactics is to inflict maximum casualty on his so-called enemy, inflict casualty on him when and where he least expects it. The army is not fighting a conventional war and that makes it exceptionally difficult. They blow out bridges, they go as far as blowing up barracks. This is an unconventional war. I think the soldiers are trained for it and they know this is the sort of thing they do. I think the public should be educated about this unconventional war.

How do you feel celebrating your 74th birthday, given that several attempts were made against your life while you were in service?

I will continue to be grateful to God and it strengthens my belief that no matter what happens, if God doesn’t will it, nothing will happen to me.

Gratitude to God

So it is a matter of believing that no matter what happens, either good or bad, nothing happens without the approval of Allah.

I am grateful to God for sparing my life up to this time despite what we went through. Those who participated in combat will say the same. God has kept me and I remain grateful to Him and grateful to you all for your support.

Don’t you think that it is necessary to have a body of elder-statesmen to proffer advice to successive administrations especially given the situation Nigerians found themselves after the recent transition?

I think one of the most unique things in Nigeria is that this is one African country that is specially blessed. There are about seven of us (former leaders) alive today and every one of us has his experience in one way or the other but the other good thing is that there is a forum where we all meet the current leadership, chat with him, talk about the situation in the country discuss and offer solutions to any problem confronting us. All of us are always free, we are very accessible to government, so we can either put across either in writing or talking.

In your opinion what are the key areas the present government should focus so that the country will move on?

I must commend the present leadership for identifying even before and after the election some of the problems facing this country. Number one has to do with security and the president talked about it extensively.

Security of the state

The security of lives and property, the security of the state, the security of this environment called Nigeria has been identified.

And the second one has to do of course with the way we live, the way we walk and the way we behave which is corruption. The third one has to do with the economic development of the country. We should support the President towards achieving these objectives.

Talking of corruption, what is your reaction to the President’s vow to recover stolen funds from the nation’s treasury?

During the tenure of my boss, President Obasanjo, he had a similar strategy and to be fair to him, he made a lot of recoveries, so we should support this present Federal Government in trying to do the same to achieve the same objective. If that objective is pursued, I believe it will achieve some degree of nrecovery of stolen funds. You talk about oil theft, I am sure President Buhari is resolute to stamp out all those and to bring to book all those who have tampered in stealing our oil.

What is your reaction to the Federal Government’s assertion that it could negotiate with Boko Haram?

The President has got it right by saying he will talk to people who are credible who have been identified as some of the leaders of the insurgency but so far, apart from one or two names, we do not hear any other name.

Democratic practices

I don’t think the government will like to talk in a vacuum, to talk to people who are not worth talking to as far as these issues are concerned. So the government is right in being careful to identify and talk if there is anything to talk about.

How do you feel as a leader of a former leading party that you are now in the opposition and secondly, do you think the PDP can come out of the waters in 2019?

I think one of the good things we are experiencing in this country is that for 16 years there has been democracy and democratic practices in the country. A lot of things must have gone wrong somewhere and the right judges are the people and the people have spoken. I think it is natural they needed a change after 16 years and they did what is right, they did not go wild, they did not fight anybody, they used their ballot papers to change the government. I think this is the beauty of what happened. I look forward to such practices in the next 50 years of democratic practice in this country. I hope they learn from their mistakes, what they did wrong, what they did right and what they can do now to re-launch their party.

One of the major challenges your administration faced was the Gideon Okar coup where people thought death had finally gotten you. How did you escape?

I can remember very well that I had some loyal officers who were supposed to be my protectors and my body guard.

Initially they told me to leave but I told them no, I am not leaving anywhere but they remained steadfast and later I took my family outside Dodan Barracks and I joined my guards. So we went out of Dodan Barracks and we went to a safe house where we got in contact with loyal troops. May God bless Sani Abacha. Sani Abacha was the chief of army staff. He got in touch with me, I got in touch with him and we sat down and talked on what we were going to do. Abacha and I rallied the loyal troops and then I left my safe house and joined Abacha in his house. That was how I escaped.

How will you rate the role of the media in the just concluded general elections?

I think the media has been fair and that is my rating. Very unusual but you are fair. You didn’t show or play partisanship, you saw and said it the way it was. I have seen the media during a lot of other elections but this particular one you were very, very fair. And I hope that will be the trend.

What is your assessment about the performance of the present administration so far?

So far, I am confident that they are doing well.

Sound advice

They have identified the problems and they look resolute in confronting these problems head-on and there are a lot of people in the society who are offering a lot of sound advice on what to do.

Are you missing your friend MKO Abiola?

Let me see, last week, I dug out one of the letters he wrote to me and I read it, so that shows that I still miss him.

What is your best food?

I eat everything legal that is not against my religion, I don’t eat pork meat. I eat cereals, carbohydrate, give me anything I will eat it.

Recently, your political god son was being drafted into the contest for the president of FIFA (cuts in sharply)

I will vote for him. (Prolonged laughter). No doubt, he made a very good outing, that is talking about his personal interest in sports especially football when he was a governor.

The Enyimba Football Club during his tenure as governor was brought into limelight. He was very much interested in soccer and if he is as such recognised in this country and outside, there is nothing wrong in trying his hand to be recognised in the world and that was why I said if I have a vote, I will cast it for him.

Major Al-Mustapha (rtd) EXPOSES ex-Head of State, Lt-Gen. Abdulsalami (rtd) on “CORRUPTION” charges.


Call it, “Masu Gudu, Su Gudu !!”


“When General Abdulsalami came to power, he exhibited an accumulated and accentuated thirst for money. I stumbled on some documents and video cassettes even while in retirement.

“There was the case of $40 million contributed by multinationals for General Sani Abacha’s transmutation to civilian president. I gave the cassette of his disclosure to help him clean the system not knowing that he would use it to clean me out of the system because three days later I was arrested. I urge the commission to investigate this money contributed by multinational towards Abacha’s self-succession.

“There was also the case of Engineer Buba Galadima, Director of NMA whom General Abdulsalami Abubakar directed to release N5 billion from the NMA to the minister through Chief Hope Ozodinma. But Galadima refused saying it was beyond his power to do so. That same afternoon, a lorry load of soldiers invaded his house managed him and took him to an unknown destination. He was ordered to put in his letter of resignation so as to look as if he resigned voluntarily but he refused and asked General Abubakar to fire him. He was fired and he was given two hours to vacate his official quarters.

“The N5 billion was to be shared like this: “1.35 to be given to the minister, Chief Hope would be given N265 million and $18 million would be given to General Abubakar. I have documents to prove this (He than tendered the documents).

“There is the issue of the printing of new naira denominations, of 100, 200 and 500. I shared Mustapha’s opinions on this which he explained in his testimony that it was a booby trap for President Olusegun Obasanjo to fail. I have 13 documents to prove this which I shall tender, before this commission.

“When General Abacha was alive the idea of the printing of new naira denominations was mooted. Three companies bided for the contract – J.B. of Munich; Thomas & Co. Of London, and Bodous of Germany. They all submitted their quotations. They all agreed on $30 per one thousand pieces but General Abacha said it was too much. The agreement was not sealed before his death. When General Abdulsalami came on board, he said it should be printed at $45 per thousand. G & D was given the contract of printing and here was the company reputed for tax evasion. The company has offices in Germany, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Argentina and other places, but only has a liaison office in Nigeria. The company evaded tax to the tune of 2 million Dutch marks in Germany. This is the same company given the job to print the money I commenced investigations into the activities of this company but General Abubakar ordered me to stop it. All these were known to him.

“The NTA in its news at 7 and 9 p.m. on January 11, 2001 reported that a container load of fake naira notes was discovered in Jos and Maiduguri. This is what I am talking about.

“During Abdulsalami’s time, our soldiers in ECOMOG were not treated well at all. General Victor Malu then ECOMOG Commander once had cause to complain of adulterated fuel sent to them. When the contract for the supply of food to our soldiers was changed, it was given to one lady, I will mention her name later.

When General Abacha was alive 45 dollars was approved a day for each of our soldiers but when Gen. Abubakar came to power he increased it. But instead of giving them the money, they were given the old rate, where is the balance?

“There is the issue of parting gift to each PRC member. N1 million was agreed as parting gift for each PRC member or 500,000 dollars. I inquired from two PRC members later differently. I asked them jokingly that I learnt you were all given ½ a million dollars as parting gift. Where is my own share now? But they told me it was only 50,000 dollars. So what happened to the remaining 450,000 dollars per each PRC member times the total PRC members?

Before General Abacha died, he left a foreign reserve of 9.7 billion dollars. There are papers to show this. But Abubakar claimed that only 7.17 billion dollars was left in the reserve what happened to the balance? This reserve that Abacha accumulated in five years, Abdulsalami depleted if in nine months.

“Eagle Square here in Abuja was being renovated yearly when General Oseni was FCT Minister. Consultants were appointed for the renovation at N230 million. But General Abdulsalami rejected this and opted for upward review of N2.3 billion as against N230m.

“Also through 59 million dollars he siphoned from government coffers he bought a house in London at 5 million pounds renovated it at 1 million pounds.

“Before General Abacha died he approved 66 million Dutch marks for the maintenance of Alpha jets and other aircraft. When Abubakar took over he wrote another memo for the sum of 44,275,000 dollars for the same maintenance. I would have wished he was here to cross check if this signature on these documents were his.

“There was also another memo from the CGS dated March 17 1999 at the injury time of the administration. There was request for the purchase of boats at 45 million dollars, purchase of amphibious plane at 21,747,660 dollars; and 5,000 rain coats jacket to cost 14,500,00 dollars. The normal cost of one rain coat to pocket were from rain is 45 dollar per piece and the total cost for the 5,000 rain coats should be 2,9000 dollars. It was signed by General Abdulsalami Abubakar to be purchased on ECOMOG issue, apart from the naval personnel that used to transport the food items, it was later given to merchant ships.

“There is the issue of Engineer Ibrahim Ali, MD of NPA. General Abubakar called him one day and told him since General Abacha did not give you free hand to do your duties, bring your quotation and I will give you the wherewithal to execute it. He brought it to Abdulsalami. He met Alhaji Gidado Idris, former Secretary to the Federation there. Abdulsalami approved it for execution but when Ali left Abdulsalami ordered Gidado Idris to fire Ali when Gidado wanted to refuse, he told him that if he didn’t do it somebody else would do it and tha[truncated by WhatsApp]