Monday, 17 August 2015


 

To kill Corruption is all we ask of Buhari


By Kabiru M. Gwangwazo

(kamgwangwazo@yahoo.com)

Buhari must be reminded that the power centers’ "pilgrimage" to the "Rock," most probably to wrest concession from him not to go the whole hog, or at least give some people, if not some on the entourage, some slacks in his war against corruption, are among a group of very powerful people that tried in his previous attempts—even in the last presidential election—everything humanly possible to shut him out of the presidency, even by foul means. The president must not lose sight of the fact that these people hardly wish him and his administration well, because his presidency happened in spite of them.

-          Femi ODERE (Media Practitioner, as published on Sahara Reporters online., August 16th,  2015) in “Buhari and his August Visitors”

This is a very pithy and apt reminder for General Muhammadu Buhari on the one hand and Nigerians as a whole who voted him to fight Corruption. Corruption has been identified by Buhari since 1983 as the nation’s major problem. Since his transmutation into a civilian politician he has all of the past 13 years continued to wage an unrelenting war against the scourge whenever he got the opportunity to speak to Nigerians.  

His anticorruption stance is explicit and has always been in full public view. He has always tried to be on the side of honesty, truth and fairness; and protection of the underdog, protection of those placed under his charge, and standing up for Nigeria. That was what got him into trouble with the Shehu Shagari government when as GOC, he personally, flew in a helicopter from his Jos base to Maiduguri’s extreme border and lead his troops to chase away rogue troops that had crossed into our borders at the northeast most axis and killed some five soldiers. For him, “loyalty is two-way”. For Buhari, the archetypal military General, his troops who believe in him and go to war whenever he orders them to, must enjoy his 100 per cent loyalty too when they need him to “have their back”, to protect their backs as it were.

That stance of standing by truth and fairness is what got the attention of Northerners, especially Muslims, riveted on him when he denied the lies that the PDP Government of President Olusegun Obasanjo asked Vice President Atiku to tell the world. The Obasanjo Govt had claimed that all members of the national council of state (NCS) were unanimously agreed to revert to a supposed “status quo ante”, to reverse application of Shariah, a legal and constitutional right of Muslims, for Muslims alone.

That sense of fairness was what almost got him in trouble again when the 1983 coup plans leaked. He had agreed to the putsch to throw out the drifting Shagari government that had forced itself back to power in a rigged 1983 landslide against all odds, a government that was so patently corrupt, a status only surpassed today by its successor, the PDP Nigeria has suffered for 16 years. Such distaste for corruption was also said to have earned him the boot from the post of head of state. His colleagues threw him out and dumped him in jail when he insisted on applying the rules even when it was revealed to him he needed to soft-pedal on a particular case at hand, of an officer who allegedly used the proceeds of corruption to help finance the coup that brought him in. He had not consolidated his hold on the levers of power, allowing other more sophisticated and less scrupulous colleagues to undermine him.

At a very mature age of 72, despite having nothing to lose on account of his advancing age, this time around as President, General Buhari has mellowed down considerably. In dispensing the rules he is more tactical. Much as he apparently still has the same distaste for corruption that he has always had he was more circumspect about his plans for the anti-corruption war in the work out for the 2015 polls.

This is quite unlike the build up to the 2011 elections. I do recall the bombshell he dropped in his hometown of Daura when we accompanied him to pick his CPC party card. He told the hundreds of thousands of us massed to watch him pick the card that he will get all stolen monies returned to Nigeria’s treasury. It was such a bombshell because we felt he had become more electable with the greater national spread the Buhari movement had then attained.

Along with members of our team, the Coalition Committee for Buhari Groups (CCBG), I was worried that he would be stopped by the team of Nigeria’s corrupt and looting politicians having stated his mind yet again in public. We thus appealed to him to change his tune and in fact extend a hand of fellowship to all types so as to get to the Aso Rock Villa, first. We appealed to him to suggest that he would draw a line and ignore issues from the past when he wins the elections. And thankfully he agreed. On this, we appear to have been in good company with many other good governance activists on his trail in the CPC and many more who have been rooting for a return Buhari presidency since his time in ANPP and his tenure as head of state in 1983/85 beautifully amplified by his stint at PTF as chairman. The merger of the three political parties, ACN, ANPP and CPC ahead of the 2015 polls used the Buhari appeal to rally all anticorruption forces to form APC and finally provided the pan national platform for a more realistic chance to get the General into Aso Rock.

Looking at the General’s votes in 2015 and recalling the extent of commitment and consistent support of the Nigerian people it is obvious Nigerians decided to entrust General Muhammadu Buhari with management of their lives for the next 4 years simply to fight corruption. He became President exactly 30 years after he had been ousted from power, for the simple reason that they most voters are comfortable with his one consuming passion. 

For Buhari to fight the HYDROPUS (“. . . a hydra-headed monster and octopus combined aptly coined by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinkaas quoted by Femi Odere) that corruption has become is the one and only task Nigerians ask of him. It is all they need to set their affairs right.

It is obvious that the corruption that sent our hapless soldiers to the warfront without adequate arms and ammunition needed to be killed if we are to kill insurgency and see the back of BH. It is obvious that we need to have Buhari kill stealing that used to not be corruption under PDP if igboland is going to have that bridge they had been clamouring for all of the past 16 years of PDP rule.

Killing Corruption before it kills Nigeria the more is the only solution to divert Nigerians monies from huge estates by former top political and service office holders, many of them serving or ex-generals to pay soldiers the living wage needed to secure our nation.

To kill corruption is a task that must be done if we are to give agriculture the monies needed to become the centrepiece for provision of jobs to the 60 million plus youth who are now locked in a hopeless state of anomie, with no education, or half education, no jobs, no hope for the future, no skills and for many no-sense as drugs have been introduced into their lives by the corrupt failure of the system to tackle the drug traffickers. With our porous borders and the corruption that keeps them open to all forms of evil imports the petty trades and things the youth get into are swamped by useless imports.

Now, is anyone in doubt that fighting corruption is all we need of Buhari for everything to be shipshape on our shores?

The thieves in the system should be thankful that Buhari appears to have softened from his previous incarnation. He is not insisting on jail for theft of Nigeria’s resources. Plea-bargaining as detestable as it is, is now acceptable to him. That anyone who returned whatever he had cornered needed not fear jail.

In the past it was 100 or 200 or even 300 years for what many then considered a minor infraction. In those days corruption had not really matured. Many docked for allegedly cornering a few tens of thousands of naira got hundreds of years in jail from the military tribunals. Of course much later we got to learn that in his 1983/85 term General Buhari as head of state had to insist on jail rather than summary firing squads that was the general consensus of his colleagues among the military top brass.

The firing squad was Ghana’s preference that got to stabilize the country faster than Nigeria. With the current national consensus against corruption and Buhari’s more mellow approach to punishment merely seeking return of stolen goods as restitution we need a little more. That such a plea-bargain stratagem gets a built in legal framework to stop the bargainers from ever getting a chance to handle our national resources, again. Any that get caught with their hands in the cookie jar even under Buhari should have similar treatment.

Indeed in the case of future thefts, for corruption or whatever it is Nigerians and their leaders care to call it a jail term needs to be factored in as standard procedure. That is in our law books, as it has always been. The current crop of spill-over thieves and corrupt Nigerians now littering our political landscape, with huge mansions, fleets of jets and bulletproof cars, many in prominent leadership positions with unaccountable tonnes of naira and dollars they can’t explain are a “lucky lot”. Why? Because they have the luck of neither jail, nor sanction.

They merely return what they stole to cause all the mess they force us to live with today. The mess that has made our education a mess. The mess that has made our economy a mess. A mess that has made our health services a mess.

A mess that has left us beholden to leaders we are forced to cheer for “granting” us “dividends of democracy”. Leaders who steal us blind and use such proceeds of crime to continue to recycle themselves back to power in sham elections within political parties that translate into general elections that prove much worse.

We now know that such types stole our money in NDDC, N180 billion plus of it, meant for amnesty payments for restive Delta youth and development of the Niger Delta. Such types stole our funds in multimillion barrels of oil and multi billion dollars and naira. And they sold off many, many of our national assets to themselves, from hotels that are so commonplace to sophisticated telecoms, to our national power assets; and all paid for with funds from opportunities they got by being our representatives, our servants; presumed public servants.

Buhari can afford to look all of his colleagues, our thieving top elite, in the face to say: “come, what madness possessed you, to steal so voraciously, so rapaciously”.

He can do this comfortably because he has always been comfortable with his cows and retired military general’s pension that we are told (true or false) he had even so asked to be reduced to a manageable level of N2 million plus, rather than the N30million plus other ex-generals and ex-heads of state get paid. He could stick to his fight against corruption in public and in private because he has always been comfortable with his people, the common-men, the youth whose lives, whose “tomorrows” they (the leaders, our leaders) eat up “today” while in charge of our affairs.

From the reaction of Nigerians to the war on corruption by General Muhammadu Buhari it seems he is on track. It seems the President is on the same page with a majority of the people who voted and stood by him all these past 13 years. He appears to be firmly fixated on the same page with Nigerians tired of the state of insecurity that has afflicted them because of corruption.

He is no doubt on the same page with Nigerians who forced the hands of our leading elite to break ranks from the established politics of the past 16 years and come join the anticorruption champion, the General. I can’t stop referring to him as the General. After all he is up there to fight the war we, the people of Nigeria, engaged him to lead as only a General can.

The amazing thing is that so far all the action and the operators wreaking so much havoc with the guilty are from stuff exposed by staff from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s time. When our General gets going with his own appointees in charge of such fireworks how much more focused and effective the anticorruption war will be, and how exciting I leave you to judge.

One thing that is certain is: what we ask of the General is that he kills corruption dead, so that Nigeria returns from the dead.

Kabiru M. Gwangwazo (kamgwangwazo@yahoo.com) a journalist writes from Kano city. He is Publisher/CEO, Pyramid Media, Kano (www.pyramidnewsng.com). He writes on: www.kmgsampling.blogspot.com
Monday August 17th, 2015
 

 

   

Friday, 14 August 2015


The Triumph Newspapers story:

What we met, what we did  (I)

By Muhammadu Kabiru Gwangwazo

Triumph MD/Editor-in-Chief,

June28,  2011 – October 3, 2012


On 28th of June when Kano state Governor Muhammadu Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso asked me to work with Associate Professor of Mass Communications, Farouk Umar Jibril to revive the Kano State owned Triumph newspapers and publishing company I would never have believed that he would in only one year and four months ask me to go send all staff home and shut the company down. To my utter amazement and the obvious shock of my commissioner Dr. Farouk Jibril that was exactly what he did at the State Executive Council meeting he chaired on Wednesday October 3rd, 2012. I had been invited to attend and was asked if I had any views, to which I retorted, “what the owner wants, is what the owner gets. .”
Kwankwaso had before then told all who cared to listen that he was pleased at what we had done to bring the company back from the dead.  A number of my informants (including a Special Adviser and DG on Security, Special Services) reported hearing this from the horse’s mouth as it were.

Happily endorsing our efforts was the cover photo on the colourful loose leafed Triumph company calendar with Kwankwaso proudly waving a copy of The Triumph at his first 100 Days Town Hall meeting at BUK’s Aminu Kano Mambayya House.  What is more at the State Executive Council it was Governor Kwankwaso himself who asked that we be asked to assist the ministry of education with advise on how to procure a printing machine for the state KERD considering we had gotten one for the company. And this our commercial and special duties directorates did apparently with distinction.

Yet again the fact that we decided not to overburden government with what we believed was a wasteful investment of putting up money to the tune of hundreds of millions of naira to buy another printing machine we thought was a wise decision to conserve state resources. The plan that we were working on right down to the day the company was shut down was rehabilitation of the one bought in the 1999/2003 tenure of Kwankwaso. It was part of over N300 million that was then spent on the company, a situation we thought to find an alternative to. And we had contacted and gotten the Indian manufacturers and their local representatives to try to crank it back to life. Parts were went out for rehabilitation. Rollers that are key to the printing machine’s operations are now back from a re-do at some in-country local technicians workshop in Kaduna and Lagos.

That we had redesigned the newspapers and introduced a brand new sports publication was a plus we thought would further impress the people of Kano and their representative and company proprietor, the state Governor and Government. That we only asked for a mere N120 million to refurbish some of the machines that are rundown and buy a state of the art computer to plate (CTP) to cut down on time wasted and improve quality we felt was reason enough to give us more support. But we got only N50 million, less than half of our tightly scripted budget. We thus had to scrimp and save and top up to include purchase of some needed working tools, including newsprint and allied production stuff.  When we shut down a sizeable stock of such stuff were in the store. In fact we even had a brand new motorcycle we had just bought for our operations in Abuja. A similar plan was in the pipeline for other states.

That we had started a total restructuring of the company, introduced a new Business Services Unit under a newly created Special Services Directorate was an innovation meant to re-launch the company into a more competitive state. That we had reawakened the commercial services directorate, gingering it with the newly carved out Special Services Directorate, whose main focus was sharpening the business end of the organisation was an exciting opening that we felt was beginning to lead Triumph out of the darkness it had fallen to the light at the end of the tunnel that I envisioned when I started my stewardship as MD and editor-in-chief.

Our regime of identifying talented professionals from within the company and encouraging them to bloom, our scouring and scouting about for new ones from outside had started to yield results such that the newsroom and indeed the other sections of the company had literally began to come alive.

We had returned the fuel dump set up since the 80s and began to stock diesel for our operations with the reawakening of the commercial press. We had with the grant of the meagre funds repaired and recommissioned the huge Bielomatik exercise books making machine.  So too did we retune and commission the faithful printing machine at Commercial press that was first used to print the Sunday Triumph as a broadsheet.

Youth corpers were properly accommodated on site at rehabilitated circulation offices turned hostels. With the circulation challenges we met whereby vendors refused to display the company newspapers we bought bicycles and started a style of direct circulation with dedicated vendors, ensuring that the public got to see our papers. Our vendors were conspicuously adorned with Triumph jackets. Our staff in operations, printing, composing and lithographic rooms as well as drivers and circulation got overalls, a return to the good old days of the Triumph.

Throughout my tenure, all 16 months of it, every day was a beehive of active. On looking back I got to wonder how many hours I made of the daily 24 hours available along with those who toiled patiently and enthusiastically to retrieve the Triumph Dream. It was in that period I got to rent office accommodation for the Triumph in Jigawa state, in Kaduna and Abuja. It was then we re-established daily circulation in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Bauchi. Much as we weren’t able to attain the level of circulation we expected we were able to ensure a presence. We returned our Lagos outlet as a means of re-accessing the rich advert belt that papers can only hope to enjoy from Lagos.

And all along as a political appointee of the Kwankwaso Government even if an ally from the General Buhari Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) I was also perforce involved in quite a handful of Government and political activity of sorts. What is more I began to write a column. Rather than return my RIPPLES Column of the 1980s and 90s or the more general TALKING IT OVER Column I penned ENCOUNTERS.

And still the Triumph flourished. Yet it was shut down on the pretext that Government wasn’t keen on continuing to pay to keep the company going. But then to its credit the Kwankwaso Government did absorb all staff into the mainstream civil service, including the many casuals we employed. Such casuals and some contract staff were my way of beginning a gradual replacement, easing out those who weren’t ready or able to fit into our more modern and faster pace. The thought was to get them back to government service and retain only those we needed and can afford. This was not to be as all 103 of the 104 casuals and a few of the 44 contract staff are now full time workers doing quite well at new and for many of them, much more appropriate posts in the mainstream. 
(TO BE CONTINUED)        

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Can mere words stop election fraud?

Can mere words stop election fraud?

Asks Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo

Journalist and Politician, former ANPP Kano State
Chairman Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo reviews submissions
by top politicians on ways to stop electoral fraud at the Arewa Media
Forum held September 8th, 2007 at the Arewa House.
He asks: Can mere words stop election fraud?

Frustration is so apparent in the manner they presented their papers. The three main submissions were well and evenly distributed. One was from a top cop and former Assistant Inspector-General of Police, the other the nation’s one time chief federal administrator as SGF and the last one an ex-chief legislator at the head of the national assembly. Chief Olu Falae, former secretary to the federal government was represented by first elected Kaduna state governor, Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa impeached by his state house of assembly over irreconcilable political differences and Aminu Bello Masari, immediate past Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. They all delivered great addresses to seek out ways of stopping electoral fraud.
            They delivered fine speeches at the Arewa House under the auspices of the Arewa (Northern) Media Forum. But the frustration in their submissions was so clear; it was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife, as it were.
All were agreed there is hardly anything anyone could do about election fraud. That didn’t stop them from making suggestions and pontificating that it wasn’t right. That in Nigeria electoral fraud peaked at the 2007 elections. That it was not only at the level of the central government or with the PDP rigging machine or INEC that electoral fraud started and ended. That even states held by parties other than PDP were as guilty; just as all parties were guilty of running closed primaries.
What struck me at the Arewa Forum’s parley on election fraud is the surprisingly low turn out recorded. The meager turn out makes you wonder for whom the event was meant. And it is about the masses and there fate that the conveners ostensibly were said to be so agitated. The masses however apparently have other more important things in Kaduna that day. As for the political elite who turned up, it appears only those who couldn’t get an in, in the current dispensation were about.
Chairman of the event which held on September 8th was ageing retired Justice Anthony Aniagolu who rose to fame in Kano as chairman of a judicial panel that probed the Maitatsine Disturbances of 1980 while PRP’s Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi was Kano state Governor and NPN’s Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was President of the Federal Republic.
I don’t know much about the service of AIG Albasu. All I do know of him is the fact that he was one of the prominent Kano elite who supported our successful bid to get ANPP’s Shekarau and Buhari to win the 2003 elections. Even if there were some who claimed he was found to have served both sides, ANPP and PDP in the heat of the elections, subsequent events confirm he was firmly planted on our side. He is a lawyer apart from being a retired police top gun. He was thus part of the legal team that volunteered their services for Buhari at the 2003 election petition tribunal. He is still a firm supporter of the ANPP and Shekarau despite all the ups and downs that literally dismembered the party since the party’s clear and undisputed victory of 2003 in Kano..
As for Balarabe Musa in the case at hand he was just a representative. Falae was expected to submit the lead paper. An incident at his country home was what was said to have stopped him from attending the Kaduna event, leaving his paper with Balarabe Musa. Balarabe has impeccable credentials as a politician and elder statesman to speak on fraud in whatever form. That would be quite difficult for his principal in this lecture, Olu Falae. I am not going to cast my mind back to his days as SGF of Military president, General Ibrahim Babangida’s Government. I won’t recall SAP or the multiple bans on old breed politicians creating the new breed for that government’s convenience and leading us into the subsequent degeneration of politics. Or the allowance for money politics made by IBB with Falae as SGF. For now I remember how Falae was imposed on us as a contrived candidate in APP for the 1999 presidential election when he wasn’t even in our party.
I recall the heartache we suffered when Senator Mahmud Waziri then APP chairman and some agents of the Nigerian establishment working for the PDP and its puppet-masters led by Falae’s ex-boss led us APP national delegates on a wild goose chase at the APP national convention in Kaduna. I was one of Kano’s delegates to the convention that did not hold where Ogbonnaya Onu, a former civilian governor in IBB’s transition was simply picked by the Mahmud Waziri clique even when he was not a prominent contestant for the party’s presidential ticket.
This paved the way for the unexplainable marriage between APP and AD bringing in someone who had not contested for anything at all, Umaru Shinkafi, a former security chief to serve as Vice Presidential candidate to Falae of AD. At that time APP had more than twice the number of states AD controlled. Now a beneficiary of that unprecedented fraud was asked to deliver a paper on election fraud. I’d say with this, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and his INEC boss Maurice Iwu do qualify as well as Falae. Of course he made all the right noises. But why should we listen to what he says? Should his words have any meaning when his actions were/are so far off the mark?
In the case of Aminu Bello Masari, a veteran of the establishment in Katsina who had served severally as a commissioner in the state he was said to have become a member of the Federal House of Representatives in very controversial circumstances in the first term. APP’s candidate had to be courted and lobbied to allow for smooth sailing for Masari in the national assembly. In his second term I understand it was the same story again. In fact he had to sweat and squirm through the purgatory of his colleagues when a story came up about his qualification for membership of the House in the first instance. He was only saved by the Obasanjo PDP machine that always gave cover to those with doubtful credentials for their blackmail value.
Whether or not he was in the House with a plumber’s certificate, or none at all for that matter, didn’t matter for the rest of his tenure as Speaker after Obasanjo had flexed his muscles in his favour. Masari only became a true democrat when he had fallen out of favour with his Master. It was then that the restive House he headed discovered and found its voice with the help of Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the hundreds of millions of Naira he was alleged to have mustered and strategically deployed in the hallowed lawmakers’ chambers to check his estranged boss, President Obasanjo’s third term bid Naira for Naira, dollar for dollar, pound sterling for pound sterling and indeed euro for euro.
Now, I am not against the laudable effort by the Northern Media Forum to seek out ways to stop election fraud. It would only benefit people like me who have been on the political terrain for almost three decades insisting on true democracy and averse to any form of electoral fraud within political parties and the more observed and reported types outside the parties because of their more public and general appeal and observance. 
The highest form of election fraud at all the levels, within parties in the first instance giving birth to the more devastating and pervasive type at general elections has been the norm in Nigeria since 1998 after General Abacha had transited to heaven. When the then three political parties, AD, APP and PDP set up after Abacha in 1998 held their no-convention conventions they gave us an indication of what we should expect at the general elections. They were more fraudulent than any ever held before then in history. I remember how the most transparent electoral fraud of the set took place in Jos, the Plateau state capital. It was widely covered by the media. The apparent excuse for turning a blind eye then was the haste to hand over to a democratically elected civilian government after the Almighty had mercifully truncated the efforts at Tazarce by the late strongman of the Nigerian military, General Sani Abacha.
Respected retired northern bureaucrat, Chief Sunday Awoniyi was chairman of the PDP’s Jos convention. In the spirit of haste to transit to what they believed would be better days Awoniyi and his co-travellers then in PDP allowed the fraud that the Party’s Convention and selection process was.
They all forgot the most basic lessons of morality, religion and history; that when the source of any matter was rotten the end result was bound to be worse. Bags of Ghana Must Go changed hands publicly getting Obasanjo his controversial win leaving the only other money bag contestant Alex Ekwueme, a prominent founding father of the PDP from its take off as G34 in the lurch. This was despite the fact that he was said to have had bank bullion vans at his beck and call to service PDP delegates at the convention. Neither Ekwueme nor Obasanjo, the other money bag candidate was banned. And Obasanjo, the lucky one anointed in Jos was only playing civilian politics for the very first time. That is if you’d agree with the thesis (which I for one don’t!) of some politicians that politics is a game. Older politicians who wanted the coveted position were edged out by the fraudulent handling of the PDP convention, the party they formed. Abubakar Rimi whose war chest was much leaner, whose only qualification was the years of experience as a practicing politician wasn’t enough in the new dispensation was totally routed and neutralized. That was fraud unprecedented. 
That is why I have a feeling with the current set of politicians in charge of our affairs who at one time or the other have benefited from or participated in enthroning fraud it would be very difficult to convince other Nigerians to stop fraud and go for proper electioneering. Those involved who are now pontificating will have to stop mere words of condemning fraud because they have been outdone today. No. They should first of all confess to their crimes no matter how far back in history. Then they can come to equity with clean hands. Then the Good Lord may touch the hearts of other Nigerians to join them and work with them and all those Mai Gaskiyas, including Buhari and Yar’adua to a better Nigeria. I put Yar’adua and Buhari on the same footing here because while Buhari is acknowledged as Mai Gaskiya, Yar’adua has surprised everyone by confessing that his election was fraud riddled.
That is a good start, especially when you consider his set up of a review of INEC and election rules under former chief judge Justice Muhammad Uwais. Whether the Uwais panel works or not what Yar’adua has done by confessing is a sound beginning to ensuring more truly representative and less contentious elections. The next thing is for all those who had been involved to also confess and seek Allah’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of Nigerians and agree to work towards proper elections in future.
Mere words condemning the fraud of others and ignoring their own roles will not help politicians. The people will not, do not believe or trust them collectively. The people just see them as some clowns whining over their failure to rig or have the process rigged in their favour. To make any real impact they would have to pool together with all contrite and truly honest politicians who detest fraud to fight it. And sooner or later they would emerge winners. And even when they lose elections it would only be a momentary loss. In the long run they will win. For God is always on the side of the truth. But truth requires strength and strength is only possible in numbers; in working together. Words alone of the type I heard and saw in film clips of the Arewa Media Forum event aren’t enough. No. At least not from the losers I saw on the clip. Sorry to say so: losers who are now democrats simply because they lost. Not because they don’t approve of the procedure. They would have applauded it had they had been declared winners.
Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo (kamgwangwazo@yahoo.com) writes from Kano City. He can be reached on 0803-4511721.


Can mere words stop election fraud?

Can mere words stop election fraud?

Asks Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo

Journalist and Politician, former ANPP Kano State
Chairman Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo reviews submissions
by top politicians on ways to stop electoral fraud at the Arewa Media
Forum held September 8th, 2007 at the Arewa House.
He asks: Can mere words stop election fraud?

Frustration is so apparent in the manner they presented their papers. The three main submissions were well and evenly distributed. One was from a top cop and former Assistant Inspector-General of Police, the other the nation’s one time chief federal administrator as SGF and the last one an ex-chief legislator at the head of the national assembly. Chief Olu Falae, former secretary to the federal government was represented by first elected Kaduna state governor, Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa impeached by his state house of assembly over irreconcilable political differences and Aminu Bello Masari, immediate past Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. They all delivered great addresses to seek out ways of stopping electoral fraud.
            They delivered fine speeches at the Arewa House under the auspices of the Arewa (Northern) Media Forum. But the frustration in their submissions was so clear; it was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife, as it were.
All were agreed there is hardly anything anyone could do about election fraud. That didn’t stop them from making suggestions and pontificating that it wasn’t right. That in Nigeria electoral fraud peaked at the 2007 elections. That it was not only at the level of the central government or with the PDP rigging machine or INEC that electoral fraud started and ended. That even states held by parties other than PDP were as guilty; just as all parties were guilty of running closed primaries.
What struck me at the Arewa Forum’s parley on election fraud is the surprisingly low turn out recorded. The meager turn out makes you wonder for whom the event was meant. And it is about the masses and there fate that the conveners ostensibly were said to be so agitated. The masses however apparently have other more important things in Kaduna that day. As for the political elite who turned up, it appears only those who couldn’t get an in, in the current dispensation were about.
Chairman of the event which held on September 8th was ageing retired Justice Anthony Aniagolu who rose to fame in Kano as chairman of a judicial panel that probed the Maitatsine Disturbances of 1980 while PRP’s Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi was Kano state Governor and NPN’s Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was President of the Federal Republic.
I don’t know much about the service of AIG Albasu. All I do know of him is the fact that he was one of the prominent Kano elite who supported our successful bid to get ANPP’s Shekarau and Buhari to win the 2003 elections. Even if there were some who claimed he was found to have served both sides, ANPP and PDP in the heat of the elections, subsequent events confirm he was firmly planted on our side. He is a lawyer apart from being a retired police top gun. He was thus part of the legal team that volunteered their services for Buhari at the 2003 election petition tribunal. He is still a firm supporter of the ANPP and Shekarau despite all the ups and downs that literally dismembered the party since the party’s clear and undisputed victory of 2003 in Kano..
As for Balarabe Musa in the case at hand he was just a representative. Falae was expected to submit the lead paper. An incident at his country home was what was said to have stopped him from attending the Kaduna event, leaving his paper with Balarabe Musa. Balarabe has impeccable credentials as a politician and elder statesman to speak on fraud in whatever form. That would be quite difficult for his principal in this lecture, Olu Falae. I am not going to cast my mind back to his days as SGF of Military president, General Ibrahim Babangida’s Government. I won’t recall SAP or the multiple bans on old breed politicians creating the new breed for that government’s convenience and leading us into the subsequent degeneration of politics. Or the allowance for money politics made by IBB with Falae as SGF. For now I remember how Falae was imposed on us as a contrived candidate in APP for the 1999 presidential election when he wasn’t even in our party.
I recall the heartache we suffered when Senator Mahmud Waziri then APP chairman and some agents of the Nigerian establishment working for the PDP and its puppet-masters led by Falae’s ex-boss led us APP national delegates on a wild goose chase at the APP national convention in Kaduna. I was one of Kano’s delegates to the convention that did not hold where Ogbonnaya Onu, a former civilian governor in IBB’s transition was simply picked by the Mahmud Waziri clique even when he was not a prominent contestant for the party’s presidential ticket.
This paved the way for the unexplainable marriage between APP and AD bringing in someone who had not contested for anything at all, Umaru Shinkafi, a former security chief to serve as Vice Presidential candidate to Falae of AD. At that time APP had more than twice the number of states AD controlled. Now a beneficiary of that unprecedented fraud was asked to deliver a paper on election fraud. I’d say with this, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and his INEC boss Maurice Iwu do qualify as well as Falae. Of course he made all the right noises. But why should we listen to what he says? Should his words have any meaning when his actions were/are so far off the mark?
In the case of Aminu Bello Masari, a veteran of the establishment in Katsina who had served severally as a commissioner in the state he was said to have become a member of the Federal House of Representatives in very controversial circumstances in the first term. APP’s candidate had to be courted and lobbied to allow for smooth sailing for Masari in the national assembly. In his second term I understand it was the same story again. In fact he had to sweat and squirm through the purgatory of his colleagues when a story came up about his qualification for membership of the House in the first instance. He was only saved by the Obasanjo PDP machine that always gave cover to those with doubtful credentials for their blackmail value.
Whether or not he was in the House with a plumber’s certificate, or none at all for that matter, didn’t matter for the rest of his tenure as Speaker after Obasanjo had flexed his muscles in his favour. Masari only became a true democrat when he had fallen out of favour with his Master. It was then that the restive House he headed discovered and found its voice with the help of Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the hundreds of millions of Naira he was alleged to have mustered and strategically deployed in the hallowed lawmakers’ chambers to check his estranged boss, President Obasanjo’s third term bid Naira for Naira, dollar for dollar, pound sterling for pound sterling and indeed euro for euro.
Now, I am not against the laudable effort by the Northern Media Forum to seek out ways to stop election fraud. It would only benefit people like me who have been on the political terrain for almost three decades insisting on true democracy and averse to any form of electoral fraud within political parties and the more observed and reported types outside the parties because of their more public and general appeal and observance. 
The highest form of election fraud at all the levels, within parties in the first instance giving birth to the more devastating and pervasive type at general elections has been the norm in Nigeria since 1998 after General Abacha had transited to heaven. When the then three political parties, AD, APP and PDP set up after Abacha in 1998 held their no-convention conventions they gave us an indication of what we should expect at the general elections. They were more fraudulent than any ever held before then in history. I remember how the most transparent electoral fraud of the set took place in Jos, the Plateau state capital. It was widely covered by the media. The apparent excuse for turning a blind eye then was the haste to hand over to a democratically elected civilian government after the Almighty had mercifully truncated the efforts at Tazarce by the late strongman of the Nigerian military, General Sani Abacha.
Respected retired northern bureaucrat, Chief Sunday Awoniyi was chairman of the PDP’s Jos convention. In the spirit of haste to transit to what they believed would be better days Awoniyi and his co-travellers then in PDP allowed the fraud that the Party’s Convention and selection process was.
They all forgot the most basic lessons of morality, religion and history; that when the source of any matter was rotten the end result was bound to be worse. Bags of Ghana Must Go changed hands publicly getting Obasanjo his controversial win leaving the only other money bag contestant Alex Ekwueme, a prominent founding father of the PDP from its take off as G34 in the lurch. This was despite the fact that he was said to have had bank bullion vans at his beck and call to service PDP delegates at the convention. Neither Ekwueme nor Obasanjo, the other money bag candidate was banned. And Obasanjo, the lucky one anointed in Jos was only playing civilian politics for the very first time. That is if you’d agree with the thesis (which I for one don’t!) of some politicians that politics is a game. Older politicians who wanted the coveted position were edged out by the fraudulent handling of the PDP convention, the party they formed. Abubakar Rimi whose war chest was much leaner, whose only qualification was the years of experience as a practicing politician wasn’t enough in the new dispensation was totally routed and neutralized. That was fraud unprecedented. 
That is why I have a feeling with the current set of politicians in charge of our affairs who at one time or the other have benefited from or participated in enthroning fraud it would be very difficult to convince other Nigerians to stop fraud and go for proper electioneering. Those involved who are now pontificating will have to stop mere words of condemning fraud because they have been outdone today. No. They should first of all confess to their crimes no matter how far back in history. Then they can come to equity with clean hands. Then the Good Lord may touch the hearts of other Nigerians to join them and work with them and all those Mai Gaskiyas, including Buhari and Yar’adua to a better Nigeria. I put Yar’adua and Buhari on the same footing here because while Buhari is acknowledged as Mai Gaskiya, Yar’adua has surprised everyone by confessing that his election was fraud riddled.
That is a good start, especially when you consider his set up of a review of INEC and election rules under former chief judge Justice Muhammad Uwais. Whether the Uwais panel works or not what Yar’adua has done by confessing is a sound beginning to ensuring more truly representative and less contentious elections. The next thing is for all those who had been involved to also confess and seek Allah’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of Nigerians and agree to work towards proper elections in future.
Mere words condemning the fraud of others and ignoring their own roles will not help politicians. The people will not, do not believe or trust them collectively. The people just see them as some clowns whining over their failure to rig or have the process rigged in their favour. To make any real impact they would have to pool together with all contrite and truly honest politicians who detest fraud to fight it. And sooner or later they would emerge winners. And even when they lose elections it would only be a momentary loss. In the long run they will win. For God is always on the side of the truth. But truth requires strength and strength is only possible in numbers; in working together. Words alone of the type I heard and saw in film clips of the Arewa Media Forum event aren’t enough. No. At least not from the losers I saw on the clip. Sorry to say so: losers who are now democrats simply because they lost. Not because they don’t approve of the procedure. They would have applauded it had they had been declared winners.
Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo (kamgwangwazo@yahoo.com) writes from Kano City. He can be reached on 0803-4511721.