By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
In what appeared to be a technical knockout for Adekunle Akinlade, the anointed candidate of Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday in Abuja, threw his weight behind Prince Dapo Abiodun as the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the state.
In expression of his public endorsement for Abiodun, Buhari raised the hand of the APC candidate in his office in the Presidential Villa, promising to visit Ogun State to formally present Abiodun as his only recognised and authentic governorship candidate in the state. Briefing journalists after accompanying Abiodun to the meeting with Buhari in the State House, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, said Buhari’s formal endorsement of Abiodun yesterday put to rest the hithertho blackmail apparently by Amosun, his protege, Akinlade and members of their new found Allied Peoples Movement (APM) that the president was backing Akinlade against Abiodun, his party’s candidate.
Ironically, Amosun and APM National Chairman, Yusuf Dantalle, had on Monday, presented to the president, the party’s letter of adoption of Buhari as its presidential candidate, and thus fueling insinuations that the president had thrown his weight behind Amosun’s alleged anti-party activities with APM as well as his controversial candidate.
Both Amosun and the National Chairman of APC, had been at loggerheads since October following the refusal of the latter to field the candidate of Amosun as the party’s governorship candidate in Ogun State.
The irreconcilable differences between the duo forced Amosun to enter into a romance with APM, a hitherto unknown political party, to which he had moved his political structure from APC in support of Akinlade as the APM governorship candidate.
But Osoba in his briefing, disclosed that by declaring his open support for Abiodun, the president was only making a bold statement that his unalloyed loyalty to his party and his unflinching support for all APC candidates in all the states of the federation were incontrovertible.
Osoba said, “First of all, I want to wish the president a successful election and 2019 will be a defining year by the grace of God for the president who has always won all the elections which the former Ambassador said sometimes ago.
“Secondly, we have come to present out candidate in Ogun State, the candidate of the president, the candidate of APC and the president has raised his hand and told the world that his candidate in Ogun State is Prince Dapo Abiodun and that he has no other candidate. His party in Ogun State is APC. He has no other party in Nigeria other than APC.
“He has assured us that he will personally come to Ogun State to formally present Prince Dapo Abiodun as his candidate and he assured us that is clearing the air of any ambiguity whatsoever of any name dropping, any blackmail, any misinformation that anybody may be peddling, that in all elections throughout Nigeria, not just in Ogun State, people must vote for APC and no other party.”
In his own briefing, Abiodun said the president left no one in doubt that he (Abiodun) was not only the candidate of APC in Ogun State but also his (president) personal candidate, pointing out that an endorsement of that magnitude could not have come at a better time.
Abiodun who said he was gladdened by the president’s endorsement, added that it was a clear signal to Akinlade, his godfather and his APM which he alleged had been using the name and photographs of Buhari to score cheap political points in Ogun State to now beat a retreat, describing their action hitherto as illegal.
“I want to first of all thank Mr. President for clearing the air as our leader has said and reaffirmed that he is the APC candidate for president and I, Prince Dapo Abiodun, I am the APC gubernatorial candidate in Ogun State and I am his candidate.
“Naturally, APC is his party and there is no any other gubernatorial candidate in Ogun State except me. I think that affirmation could not have come at a better time when there is a lot of ambiguity, when people have attempted falsehood and other kinds of misinformation.
“So, I am very elated, very reassured that the president has stood by the party and stood by me and I believe that this matter will finally be put to rest and all those that are trying to gain by using the president’s picture on their posters, on their vehicles will finally begin to remove it because it is actually illegal for you to be putting the presidential candidate of another party on the face of the poster of another party.
“It is an attempt to confuse and misinform the public.
I believe that after today, that will be put to rest and everybody will know that in Ogun State, the only party to vote for is APC from the presidential election, to gubernatorial, to senatorial to House of Representatives and the House of Assembly,” Abiodun stated.
Nigeria’s First Elected President Dies at 93
Charles Ajunwa, Deji Elumoye and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Laleye Dipo in Minna
The curtain fell on the Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died yesterday at the National Hospital, Abuja, after a brief illness.
His death was confirmed by his grandson and President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCNI), Bello Shagari.
“I regret to announce the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died right now after a brief illness at the National Hospital, Abuja”, he said on his tweeter handle.
In a swift reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari described the demise of the Shagari as the departure of a patriot whose life of service and humility was widely acknowledged
Family members, relatives and some presidency officials were sighted at the National Hospital as at yesterday evening, making arrangements for the movement of the late president’s remains.
Shagari was President of Nigeria under the then ruling party, National Party of Nigeria (NPN) from 1979 to 1983.
He was the only president who was handed over power by the military led by the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo. He was later overthrown by the same military junta led by then Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
Shagari served as the first and only President of Nigeria’s Second Republic (1979–1983), after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo’s military government. Shagari also served seven times in ag ministerial or cabinet post as a federal minister and federal commissioner from 1958–1975.
He was made the Turaki of the Fula Sokoto Caliphate in 1962 by the Sultan of Sokoto, Siddiq Abubakar III. Turaki means an officer at court, in this case, referring to the sultan’s court at the palace of Sokoto. In addition, he also holds the chieftaincy titles of the Ochiebuzo of Ogbaland, the Ezediale of A ouch and the Baba Korede of Ado Ekiti.
He worked as a teacher for a brief period before entering politics in 1951 and in 1954 was elected to the federal House of Representatives.
Shagari was born in 1925 in the northern Shagari village founded by his great-grandfather, Ahmadu Rufa’i, who was also the Village Head, and took the name Shagari as his family name. His father’s name is Aliyu and his mother’s name is Mariamu.
His name, Usman, means “companion”. He was raised in a polygamous family and was the sixth child born into the family. Prior to becoming Magajin Shagari ( magajin means village head), Aliyu, Shehu’s father was a farmer, trader and herder. However, due to traditional rites that prevented rulers from participating in business, Aliyu relinquished some of his trading interest when he became the Magaji, or village head, of Shagari village. Aliyu died five years after Shehu’s birth, and Shehu’s elder brother, Bello, briefly took on his father’s mantle as Magajin Shagari.
Shagari started his education in a Quranic school and then went to live with relatives at a nearby town, where from 1931-1935 he attended Yabo elementary school. In 1936-1940, he went to Sokoto for middle school, and then from 1941-1944 he attended Kaduna College.
Between 1944 and 1952, Shehu Shagari matriculated at the Teachers Training College, in Zaria, Kaduna, Nigeria. From 1953-1958, Shagari got a job as a visiting teacher at Sokoto Province. He was also a member of the Federal Scholarship Board from 1954-1958.
Shehu Usman Shagari entered politics in 1951 when he became the secretary of the Northern People’s Congress in Sokoto, Nigeria, a position he held until 1956.
In 1954, Shehu Shagari was elected into his first public office as a member of the federal House of Representative for Sokoto West. In 1958, Shagari was appointed as parliamentary secretary (he left the post in 1959) to the Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and that year he also served as the Federal Minister for Commerce and Industries.
From 1959-1960, Shagari was redeployed to the Ministry for Economic Development, as the Federal Minister for Economic Development. In 1960-1962, he was moved to the Pensions Ministry as the Federal Minister for Pensions. From 1962-1965, Shagari was made the Federal Minister for Internal Affairs.
From 1965 up until the first military coup in January 1966, Shagari was the Federal Minister for Works.
In 1967 he was appointed as the secretary for Sokoto province education development fund. From 1968-1969, Shagari was given a state position in the North Western State as commissioner for establishments.
After the Nigerian civil war, from 1970-1971, Shagari was appointed by the military Head of State General Yakubu Gowon as the federal commissioner for economic development, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
From 1971-75 he served as the Federal Commissioner ( position now called minister) of Finance. During his tenure as the commissioner of finance for Nigeria, Shagari was also a governor for the World Bank and a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committee of 20. In 1978, Shagari was a founding member of the National People’s Party. In 1979 Shagari was chosen by the party as the presidential candidate for the general election that year, which he won becoming the president and head of state of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Shagari won the 1979 election with the help of his campaign manager, Umaru Dikko (now late). The campaign had the support of many prominent politicians in the North and among southern minorities.
The party’s motto was “One Nation, One Destiny” and was seen as the party best representing Nigeria’s diversity.
He ran for a second four-year term in 1983 and won the general election. However, on December 31, 1983, Shagari was overthrown by Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
President Buhari last night described the demise of the Shagari as the departure of a patriot whose life of service and humility was widely acknowledged.
According to a statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, the president said he received the news of Shagari’s transition with sadness.
He was quoted as saying, “On behalf of my family, the government and the people of Nigeria, it is with immense sadness that I received the news of the passing away of the First Executive President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari which event happened Friday in Abuja.”
Furthermore, Adesina said Buhari recalled part of the birthday message he (Buhari) sent to the deceased last February, quoting him as saying in the message, “we are enthralled and regaled with the many years of unequalled patriotism, sacrifices and contributions to national development.
More specifically, we celebrate the role modelling qualities of integrity, diligence and humility that have been the hallmark of your visionary leadership.”
The president was also quoted as saying, “Nigerians held him in the highest esteem even when he was out of office until his demise and will forever miss his wise counsel.”
On his part, former military president General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida described Shagari as a ” Democratic and bridge builder.”
Babangida said the deceased was also a detribalised Nigerian.
In the message which he personally signed, General Babangida extolled the virtues of the first civilian president in the second republic saying, “Shehu Shagari was a great patriotic leader and an accomplished gentleman, at first a teacher, an administrator, a technocrat and an honest decent unassuming simple Nigerian Leader.
“He will be remembered for his tolerance and politics of peace without bitterness. President Shehu Shagari was a nationalist who never showed any discrimination due to ethnicity or religion and was a very dependable bridge builder” Babangida added in the statement.
In his tribute, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, described Shagari as a man of peace, who dedicated the greater part of his life to the service of the fatherland.
Saraki, in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by his Media Adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, noted that Shagari would be remembered for his immense contributions to the political and socio-economic development of the country as well as his peaceful disposition.
“My family and I join the entire nation to mourn the passing of former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who led our nation during the Second Republic.
He was a quintessential public servant; having served in seven cabinet positions and as a legislator. He was the first elected President who was Chief Executive of the country.
He dedicated his best years in the service of our nation and its people and will be dearly missed.
“He was a man who worked for the unity of Nigeria and stabilised the country during the 50 months of the Second Republic despite the challenges of the then new presidential system of government operated by the country. Since his exit from power, he has remained a silent beacon of strength for the country”, the Senate President stated.
Jonathan: Shagari Was a Nation Builder
Former President Goodluck Jonathan described Shagari as a nation builder who cemented a good relationship between the North and South.
Jonathan stated this in a tribute to the nation’s first executive President, noting that Shagari was a patriot who placed service to humanity and fatherland above personal interest. He said: “Late President Shagari was a very nice man with a clean heart. As a President he was humble, sincere and selfless in service.
He was in deed a true democrat who left no one in doubt about his loyalty to his country, love for peace, desire for unity and vision for a greater Nigeria.
“Shagari was an exceptional leader and exemplary statesman whose modesty, commitment to common good and deep sense of patriotism will continue to inspire many generations of Nigerians.
He will be remembered as a teacher, parliamentarian and President whose model of service was anchored on diligence, broad-mindedness and humility.”
Shagari, Dangote, Otedola And Too Many Matters
F ellow Nigerians, this is one of those weeks when what you never planned decides to jam what you already planned. I had planned to write on my encounter with one of the youngest Presidential aspirants, Fela Durotoye, who visited me at home recently with his very creative wife, Tara. We spent some quality time together and I’m sure we were all able to gain better insight about the Nigerian political vista from that encounter. I had cause to speak to Fela again after I got wind of some situations affecting his campaign. I was able to give him some more tips on how to forge ahead with his campaign and not get disillusioned. We’ve come a long way together as Ife boys, though much younger than me, but he’s always felt totally at home with me on anything concerning him and his wife. He calls his wife my baby and she’s playing a very pivotal role in this campaign. It is through her that I’m able to track and measure Fela’s progress.
Anyway, as I sat down to write yesterday in the tranquil city of Accra, Ghana, I received an incredible “breaking news” from a friend. “Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola have been named as prominent members of the Buhari Presidential campaign team”, he shouted. WHAT, I exclaimed. This drama is getting too much and too hot to handle, I mused. Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, released a comprehensive list of its political campaign team and the news was designed to send shivers down the spines of opposition parties. I was not very surprised at their idea of muscle-flexing. This is the season when every political party needs to show its influence and advertise its powerful supporters as a way of intimidating its opponents. My shock came from the mention of two of Nigeria’s biggest brands and very popular entrepreneurs. There is nothing new about businessmen going into politics. But I’m not sure if Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola are members of APC, and at what point they joined the party. Indeed, I seriously doubt it.
What was more, I was worried about the possibility of these two men with immense exposure to international commerce becoming politically exposed and endangered men instantly. It has not been possible, as at the time of writing this, to ascertain that they were contacted prior to the announcement and if they actually accepted to serve in whatever capacity as Buhari’s campaigners. My personal opinion is that APC should have spared these men the agony and anguish of being dragged into Nigeria’s political brouhaha with attendant risks of a heavy backlash and collateral damages. If they both are friends and financial supporters of President Buhari, their privacy should have been protected and preserved, unless of course they volunteered their services. What the APC did yesterday was to play its biggest card so early and too soon. My opinion is that it is absolutely unnecessary and that even if these men accepted the offer under veiled threats or real coercion, it still won’t wish away or wash off the concomitant embarrassment and public odium. No government should treat its precious assets in this manner. There is no doubt that businessmen can be mentioned as donors and contributors to political campaigns. This happens all over the world and indeed, these businessmen also sometimes write in support of those parties. What shouldn’t happen, if they are not members of a political party, is to coral or railroad them into that party’s campaign team simply because that party is the ruling party!
These are not normal times. The political situation in Nigeria has been too tense. I was still ruminating over how to respond to this Aliko/Otedola controversy when I received another bombshell, that Nigeria’s President in the Second Republic, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari has just passed on to the great beyond. Once confirmed, I quickly tweeted a condolence message to his family. I was 19 years old when he became President on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria. I was an undergraduate student at the University of Ife in 1979 and was old enough to follow the chaotic fallout from that election which turned out to be a major contest between Shagari and the famous political sage and erudite lawyer, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. I will never forget the court case that ensued about the legal interpretation of the mathematical calculation of what constitutes the two thirds of all the States of the Federation at the time. According to the results of that monumental election released by the Federal Electoral Commission, popularly known then as FEDECO, Shagari had garnered 5,688,857 votes nationally while Awolowo scored 4,916,651 votes. The argument ensued that Shagari had not met the technically complicated Constitutional requirement of needing to have 25% of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of all the 19 States. Although he did not contest the total figures, but rather relied on technicality, Awolowo vehemently rejected the victory purportedly recorded by Shagari and prayed the courts to jettison the decision of the Election Tribunal that had given victory to Shagari.
The case which went all the way to the Supreme Court would go down as one of the most tempestuous cases in the entire legal history of Nigeria. The biggest mathematical problem arose when Chief Awolowo insisted that a State was single entity which could not be factionalised and as such, Shagari needed to have won the mandatory 25% in 13 States and not in the fabricated twelve and two-third States as rigorously argued by Shagari’s lawyer, Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide (SAN) who eventually won the case on September 26, 1979. At the Supreme Court, the case was presided over by Justice Atanda Fatai-Williams who was flanked by Justices Irikefe, Bello, Idigbe, Obaseki, Uwais and Esho.
Days later, Shagari was promptly sworn in, but the controversy raged on, almost endlessly and still does amongst academics to this day. Shagari thus became Nigeria’s first Executive President. Four years on, Shagari’s government was already enmeshed in reckless profligacy and humongous resources were frittered away. The climax came for that government in 1983 when Shagari and his magicians, supported by the then Inspector General of Police, Sunday Adewusi, won elections in even impossible places in what was termed “land slide” and “moon slide.” All complaints were ignored, and it seemed the politicians could really not be bothered. The consequences of their folly in believing they were invincible manifested itself about three months later when the military struck in a coup d’etat on December 31, 1983, and Muhammadu Buhari was soon announced as the new Head of State.
Buhari’s government wasted no time in ordering the arrests of virtually all key actors in politics. His detractors claimed that he was more benevolent to the Northern politicians, in the punishments meted to these politicians and that those from the southern parts of the country suffered the most. Whatever, the truth and motives may be, Buhari and his able lieutenant, Tunde Idiagbon, declared a massive war against corruption and indiscipline. Shagari was kept under house arrest while his deputy, Vice President Alex Ekwueme, who died earlier this year was hauled into Kirikiri Maximum Prison without any cogent justification. A very audacious attempt was made to cargo Umaru Dikko, one of the most powerful Shagari Ministers back to Nigeria from London in a coffin but Dikko was lucky as an alarm went out before he could be air-lifted.
It is a strange coincidence that Shagari was toppled at the tail end of December 1983 and he died yesterday towards the tail end of December 2018. Interestingly, President Buhari flagged off his re-election campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, yesterday. It would be interesting to read what Buhari would have to say about a man he once overthrew in a military coup.
There was other news that broke yesterday. A picture came from the Presidential villa, in Abuja, that President Buhari has finally endorsed his Party’s Governorship candidate. I watched as the President and former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, raised up the hands of oil baron, Dapo Abiodun, the candidate officially recognised by APC in a show of recognition of this noble, illustrious and industrious candidate. For the records, the incumbent Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, had strongly asserted that he would not recognise Dapo Abiodun as he won through a kangaroo arrangement with highly placed party apparatchik. Indeed, prior to this event, Amosun had tried hard to sell his anointed candidate, Abiodun Akinlade, who is now running on the platform of another party. As if this was not bizarre enough, another photograph flew in from the direction of Akwa Ibom where the President started his campaign and sat next to Governor Amosun on the Presidential jet back to Abuja. It appeared like a power show between the various camps of Amosun, Adams Oshiomhole, Tinubu and Abiodun, the quartet that are embroiled in this war of attrition between old friends. It is not known how substantial Chief Osoba’s role has been in this dizzying saga.
But Ogun State seems to be setting new records in political conundrum.
Just as I was about reaching the end of this week’s article, another news flew in on Dangote. Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser issued what is obviously a disclaimer on the appearance of Aliko Dangote on the Presidential Campaign Council. According to Adesina:
“It has become imperative to further clarify the status of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, named under the sub-head ADVISORY MEMBERS in the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council announced on Friday, December 28, 2018.
Africa’s richest man, not being a card-carrying member of APC, cannot, and is not member of the PCC. He is also a member of the Peace Committee, and thus cannot be in a partisan campaign council.”
Adesina was silent on the fate of Aliko’s friend, Femi Otedola. The APC government needs to do more homework before publishing names anyhow. This type of expensive joke could have been avoided if they were not in a hurry to name-drop those names that were published yesterday. This was a massive own goal which could have reverberations and repercussions not just on the political scene, but in local and international business circles. There were reports that many of those names included in the list heard about their roles on social media. I think it is grossly unfair and totally unfortunate to drag people’s hard-earned reputation in the mud in order to score political points.
I do not envy some of the people mentioned. But at least, most of them are politicians and it may be being on the campaign team will help resurrect some dying and dead political careers! What this team will do to the fortunes of the APC is another matter.
As always, time will tell!