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APC will bring true competition to the polity – Ikimi (2)

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The highly successful PTF – Petroleum Trust Fund – established by the retention of a few kobos per barrel of crude oil produced, executed many notable projects nationwide. During his tenure, I know that not a kobo was borrowed from the IMF or World Bank. Those institutions shut down their local offices in Abuja.

Lucky President However, in 1999, General Obasanjo, a former military ruler, assumed the Presidency and preferred that his name be disguised as he was to be referred to as Chief Obasanjo.  He was a lucky president. The price per barrel of crude oil soared from the paltry $8 per barrel only one year before his arrival to an unprecedented over $100 per barrel.

That was the real windfall which was and is still continually being frittered away. The PDP has since established a system of annual budgeting that grants nearly 80% of such colossal sums, now in trillions, of our annual budget to recurrent expenditures with virtually nothing left for capital development.

We have a staff of the “Bretton Woods” institution firmly in charge and supervising what is perhaps the worst scenario of economy Nigeria has ever witnessed; the same woman who lured Nigeria to pay up billions of dollars on questionable and unverified debts for which selected agents made huge commissions – is now leading us back to incur even bigger debts without any visible development projects to show for it. Many people have wondered whose interest she will most serve; Nigeria’s or the World Bank’s.

It is now commonplace for trillions of naira to be stolen. Recalling that more than two trillions evaporated in the name of fuel subsidy, hundreds of billions stolen by a level 12 or 14 civil servant, etc; the scandal is mind boggling

You said the economy fared much better under Abacha as there was no borrowing or indebtedness throughout his tenure. Is there really a basis for this assertion?

Yes, I am aware that General Abacha turned down offers from the IMF who usually send young officers to developing countries who end up preparing all kinds of negative reports on the host countries thereby providing avenues for them to design loan structures that would hold developing countries hostage into long tenures of debt.

As they themselves are to manage the loans, they get themselves entrenched in host countries finance and other ministries, they end up with massive bureaucracies foisted in the receiving nations at great unrealistic extra costs. Weak leaders are attracted to these foreign currency loans which provides them opportunities for corrupt personal enrichment.   A substantial part of the so- called loans they offer is utilized to maintain the donor’s  personnel’s lavish lifestyle.

Offices Closed Their offices and residence in choice areas of Abuja were closed down during Abacha’s tenure and the properties put up for rent. General Abacha did not have need for such assistance. Apart from his preference to plan our nation’s needs within our own available resources, he preferred to open up links with China and other similar nations.

I am aware, Nigeria’s railway system, peaceful nuclear energy development including power supply, river- borne transportation, massive housing, etc would have been destined to attain world standards in the line of his positive vision.

The National Hospital in Abuja today was a Women Hospital project by the First Lady – Mariam Abacha. That, in my view, was a positive contribution to healthcare. Today, I understand that billions of Naira will be invested in a luxury office complex to be the headquarters for African First Ladies. I just wonder what would happen when the First Lady of Cameroon assumes leadership of that group. Or is Nigeria going to chair that group in perpetuity?

Apo Legislative Quarters was conceived and built  by General Abacha to serve as the permanent Abuja residence for legislators during their tenure. Similarly there  were institutional buildings to serve as residence for key ministries and some parastatals.

Instead of positively increasing the national housing stock as most world governments are now doing, the OBJ government strangely ceded these Abacha properties to cronies at rock bottom, give away prices. Today, huge sums are spent to cater for fresh legislators each time they come to take office in Abuja and civil servants receive big sums to face the rising cost of accommodation in Abuja.

Why then should recurrent expenditures not hit the roof? The Foreign Affairs Minister today, for instance, has no befitting residence anymore at which he could host diplomatic receptions as I and others did. The minister during the tenure of OBJ bought the residence for pea nuts!

Oshiomhole’s government and death of god fatherism in Edo politics?

It is my fervent hope that the choice of people to hold power in our country at all levels would be based on the will of the people. As national chairman of the NRC in 1990 to 1992, our contest with the SDP was  based largely on the outcome of free and fair elections. Hence we ran neck to neck all the time.

My quest for a mega party today is to create another party that will contest with the PDP to ensure true competition and balance in the polity. Checks and balance would then be assured. Between the NRC and SDP in those days, of the thirty states in the country then, we in the NRC won 16 governorships while the SDP won 14.

But the SDP secured more seats in the National Assembly elections. Both parties usuallyaccepted the outcome of the elections without quarrel and I do not recall any court case. I can very well appreciate the former head of state, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, recalling those good old days.

The colossal investment, mind- boggling cash utilized in elections these days is a phenomenon introduced by the PDP and they have  succeeded in corrupting the electoral commission as well down the line. The general elections of 2007 have been recorded as the worst ever in our country’s history and indeed in the African continent. Prof Jega is trying to make a difference, but he still has a number of hardened bad eggs in his system.

Steps must be taken to rid the place of those characters ahead of the next general elections. Today, elections are no longer decided at the polling stations. Final decisions have shifted to the law courts which development has unleashed new and scary problems on the country with regards to our nation’s judiciary. Lawyers have become as well so fabulously wealthy by this phenomenon.

Return of Sanity Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s launch of the One Man One Vote concept was very timely. It brought back confidence to the ballot box and it was a relief to hear President Goodluck Jonathan mount the PDP campaign rostrum in Benin- City and also proclaim One Man One Vote. A celebrated PDP leader in Edo State made absolute nonsense of the ballot box.

Those who wanted office rather than campaign to the people for votes made nocturnal pilgrimages to the residence of the leader who became known as ‘godfather’. Governors, legislators, LGA chairmen and councilors held office at his behest and so their hands were usually tied when the time came to deliver to the people the much talked about dividends of democracy.

There must however be credible leadership in political parties to give direction to elected personnel during their tenure, in their operations without prejudice to them retaining a reasonable level of free hand.In Edo State, we have come to terms with party leadership clearly defined indicating the difference between leader and godfather.

The people of Edo State have comprehensively rejected PDP since 2007 and, from November 2009 when the ACN government was inaugurated, the participatory democracy that you speak of has actually bred real and visible development in the state.

This is largely because, unlike under the PDP when recurrent expenditure gulped almost 90% of the total receipts leaving virtually nothing for development, the economy has been effectively restructured to ensure that not less than 50% of total receipts is committed to capital development in a manner that is accountable and transparent.

The end result is that Edo State has fully realized value for money spent. This type of vision, focus, fiscal discipline and commitment is what we offer Nigerians when in 2015 they reject PDP and embrace the fresh air of change that APC represents.

The leadership of the ACN in Edo State was accused of imposing chairmanship candidates in the forthcoming LGA elections. What is your view on this?

The development of the ACN in Edo State, from November 2006 to date, to become the more powerful and preferred party in the state  is a subject of great interest. I recall the grave difficulties that we encountered in 2007 during the short tenure of Professor Osunbor to find aspirants in many locations willing to accept selection to contest as ACN candidates.

They felt then that the PDP was unassailable. There were no complaints of candidate imposition. Today, it appears that the real contest is within the party to secure its ticket as it is clear that the opponent PDP has been totally routed in the state.

The party has rightly chosen a process of consensus for upholding the choice of its candidates in order to give a fair chance to old members as well as the overwhelming numbers of new members that have flooded into the party in recent times. This process has been very successful in the majority of local governments, but, as expected, there are some leaders as well as the aspirants they support who are rather desperate to secure the leadership of some LGAs for one reason or the other. The internal party machinery for conflict resolution has been engaged in these matters and is working satisfactorily.

There is this fear that the battle for Oshiomhole’s succession may disintegrate the Edo ACN, What is your take on this?

It is rather too early to discern the color of the governorship battle in Edo State in 2016. The change of the party from ACN to APC after the successful merger creating an even stronger national and state party, the outcome of 2015 general elections etc will play some fundamental roles in the direction of events in Edo 2016. We will be constructing the APC in Edo State from the scratch in the coming months.

Tom Ikimi

It is to prepare for such challenges that we insist that the party leadership must assume supremacy. The party we are building will be one of character and discipline with assurances of transparency in all processes. In the circumstance, peace and tranquility will prevail and the party will remain intact.

You were the returning officer during the PDP presidential primary in 2003, which ushered in Obasanjo’s second term. How would you reconcile your role then and where you are today as a chieftain of the ACN?

Chief AuduOgbeh, my fellow alumnus of the Ahmadu Bello University in the late sixties and very early seventies, friend and colleague, who was the PDP national chairman at the time,  was, with the assistance of a number of young PDP governor- friends of mine, able to persuade me to undertake the task.

Those young governors, who have a lot of respect for me, worked in one way or the other with me during my tenure as the NRC national chairman 1990 – 1992 and knew my capacity to undertake difficult roles! My role was to introduce innovations to the presidential primary process and conduct the primary in a manner that would give it credibility inside and outside our country.

The contest was sensitive for various reasons and the whole world was watching. It has been generally acknowledged that I did a good job and I take ultimate responsibility for that very highly successful exercise. Most people inside and outside Nigeria hold fond memories of the vote counting … ‘Obasanjo! Obasanjo! Obasanjo and Obasanjo’ with
the occasional Rimi or Ekwueme. Many others have since attempted to imitate the process I created but have produced very poor versions.

However, I was not able to come to terms with the unfolding events during the OBJ second term tenure which came to a head by the plot to secure for himself a third term and life presidency. Chief AuduOgbeh was forced out in a very crude and uncivilizedmanner which he himself has explained on several occasions.

Vice President AtikuAbubakar suffered unmitigated hostility from his boss and was also forced then to bow out from the PDP inspite of his well known role in founding the party and facilitating General Obasanjo into the Presidency. In my case all these were made even more unacceptable by the roles and actions by one of the leaders of the party who hails from my taste and who will go down in Nigeria’s political history, particularly this stretch of PDP rule, as the brain behind several bizarre processes that have stunted democratic growth in country.

Break Away

He had the ears then of OBJ, worked unsuccessfully to secure the third term for him and was able to initiate and implement the reckless project of the de-registration of party members which finally destroyed the internal party democracy!  We who disagreed with all these things all broke away from the PDP on grounds of principle to found the Action Congress, AC, in collaboration with a major group from the AD.

The PDP has since deteriorated to virtually unacceptable levels while we have built up the AC now ACN to the enviable heights that it has assumed today. I have no regrets whatsoever to be a chieftain of the ACN as we logically now move on to unify the opposition under the banner of APC destined to carry out the urgently needed rescue mission for Nigeria.

The highly successful PTF – Petroleum Trust Fund – established by the retention of a few kobos per barrel of crude oil produced, executed many notable projects nationwide. During his tenure, I know that not a kobo was borrowed from the IMF or World Bank. Those institutions shut down their local offices in Abuja.

Lucky President However, in 1999, General Obasanjo, a former military ruler, assumed the Presidency and preferred that his name be disguised as he was to be referred to as Chief Obasanjo.  He was a lucky president. The price per barrel of crude oil soared from the paltry $8 per barrel only one year before his arrival to an unprecedented over $100 per barrel.

That was the real windfall which was and is still continually being frittered away. The PDP has since established a system of annual budgeting that grants nearly 80% of such colossal sums, now in trillions, of our annual budget to recurrent expenditures with virtually nothing left for capital development.

We have a staff of the “Bretton Woods” institution firmly in charge and supervising what is perhaps the worst scenario of economy Nigeria has ever witnessed; the same woman who lured Nigeria to pay up billions of dollars on questionable and unverified debts for which selected agents made huge commissions – is now leading us back to incur even bigger debts without any visible development projects to show for it. Many people have wondered whose interest she will most serve; Nigeria’s or the World Bank’s.

It is now commonplace for trillions of naira to be stolen. Recalling that more than two trillions evaporated in the name of fuel subsidy, hundreds of billions stolen by a level 12 or 14 civil servant, etc; the scandal is mind boggling.

You said the economy fared much better under Abacha as there was no borrowing or indebtedness throughout his tenure. Is there really a basis for this assertion?

Yes, I am aware that General Abacha turned down offers from the IMF who usually send young officers to developing countries who end up preparing all kinds of negative reports on the host countries thereby providing avenues for them to design loan structures that would hold developing countries hostage into long tenures of debt.

As they themselves are to manage the loans, they get themselves entrenched in host countries finance and other ministries, they end up with massive bureaucracies foisted in the receiving nations at great unrealistic extra costs. Weak leaders are attracted to these foreign currency loans which provides them opportunities for corrupt personal enrichment. A substantial part of the so- called loans they offer is utilized to maintain the donor’s  personnel’s lavish lifestyle.

Offices Closed Their offices and residence in choice areas of Abuja were closed down during Abacha’s tenure and the properties put up for rent. General Abacha did not have need for such assistance. Apart from his preference to plan our nation’s needs within our own available resources, he preferred to open up links with China and other similar nations.

I am aware, Nigeria’s railway system, peaceful nuclear energy development including power supply, river- borne transportation, massive housing, etc would have been destined to attain world standards in the line of his positive vision.

The National Hospital in Abuja today was a Women Hospital project by the First Lady – Mariam Abacha. That, in my view, was a positive contribution to healthcare. Today, I understand that billions of Naira will be invested in a luxury office complex to be the headquarters for African First Ladies. I just wonder what would happen when the First Lady of Cameroon assumes leadership of that group. Or is Nigeria going to chair that group in perpetuity?

Apo Legislative Quarters was conceived and built  by General Abacha to serve as the permanent Abuja residence for legislators during their tenure. Similarly there  were institutional buildings to serve as residence for key ministries and some parastatals.

Instead of positively increasing the national housing stock as most world governments are now doing, the OBJ government strangely ceded these Abacha properties to cronies at rock bottom, give away prices. Today, huge sums are spent to cater for fresh legislators each time they come to take office in Abuja and civil servants receive big sums to face the rising cost of accommodation in Abuja.

Why then should recurrent expenditures not hit the roof? The Foreign Affairs Minister today, for instance, has no befitting residence anymore at which he could host diplomatic receptions as I and others did. The minister during the tenure of OBJ bought the residence for pea nuts!

Oshiomhole’s government and death of god fatherism in Edo politics?

It is my fervent hope that the choice of people to hold power in our country at all levels would be based on the will of the people. As national chairman of the NRC in 1990 to 1992, our contest with the SDP was  based largely on the outcome of free and fair elections. Hence we ran neck to neck all the time.

My quest for a mega party today is to create another party that will contest with the PDP to ensure true competition and balance in the polity. Checks and balance would then be assured. Between the NRC and SDP in those days, of the thirty states in the country then, we in the NRC won 16 governorships while the SDP won 14.

But the SDP secured more seats in the National Assembly elections. Both parties usuallyaccepted the outcome of the elections without quarrel and I do not recall any court case. I can very well appreciate the former head of state, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, recalling those good old days.

The colossal investment, mind- boggling cash utilized in elections these days is a phenomenon introduced by the PDP and they have  succeeded in corrupting the electoral commission as well down the line. The general elections of 2007 have been recorded as the worst ever in our country’s history and indeed in the African continent.

Prof Jega is trying to make a difference, but he still has a number of hardened bad eggs in his system. Steps must be taken to rid the place of those characters ahead of the next general elections. Today, elections are no longer decided at the polling stations. Final decisions have shifted to the law courts which development has unleashed new and scary problems on the country with regards to our nation’s judiciary. Lawyers have become as well so fabulously wealthy by this phenomenon.

Return of Sanity Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s launch of the One Man One Vote concept was very timely. It brought back confidence to the ballot box and it was a relief to hear President Goodluck Jonathan mount the PDP campaign rostrum in Benin- City and also proclaim One Man One Vote.

A celebrated PDP leader in Edo State made absolute nonsense of the ballot box. Those who wanted office rather than campaign to the people for votes made nocturnal pilgrimages to the residence of the leader who became known as ‘godfather’. Governors, legislators, LGA chairmen and councilors held office at his behest and so their hands were usually tied when the time came to deliver to the people the much talked about dividends of democracy.

There must however be credible leadership in political parties to give direction to elected personnel during their tenure, in their operations without prejudice to them retaining a reasonable level of free hand.In Edo State, we have come to terms with party leadership clearly defined indicating the difference between leader and godfather.

The people of Edo State have comprehensively rejected PDP since 2007 and, from November 2009 when the ACN government was inaugurated, the participatory democracy that you speak of has actually bred real and visible development in the state.

This is largely because, unlike under the PDP when recurrent expenditure gulped almost 90% of the total receipts leaving virtually nothing for development, the economy has been effectively restructured to ensure that not less than 50% of total receipts is committed to capital development in a manner that is accountable and transparent.

The end result is that Edo State has fully realized value for money spent. This type of vision, focus, fiscal discipline and commitment is what we offer Nigerians when in 2015 they reject PDP and embrace the fresh air of change that APC represents.

The leadership of the ACN in Edo State was accused of imposing chairmanship candidates in the forthcoming LGA elections. What is your view on this?

The development of the ACN in Edo State, from November 2006 to date, to become the more powerful and preferred party in the state  is a subject of great interest. I recall the grave difficulties that we encountered in 2007 during the short tenure of Professor Osunbor to find aspirants in many locations willing to accept selection to contest as ACN candidates. They felt then that the PDP was unassailable. There were no complaints of candidate imposition. Today, it appears that the real contest is within the party to secure its ticket as it is clear that the opponent PDP has been totally routed in the state.

The party has rightly chosen a process of consensus for upholding the choice of its candidates in order to give a fair chance to old members as well as the overwhelming numbers of new members that have flooded into the party in recent times. This process has been very successful in the majority of local governments, but,

as expected, there are some leaders as well as the aspirants they support who are rather desperate to secure the leadership of some LGAs for one reason or the other. The internal party machinery for conflict resolution has been engaged in these matters and is working satisfactorily.

There is this fear that the battle for Oshiomhole’s succession may disintegrate the Edo ACN, What is your take on this?

It is rather too early to discern the color of the governorship battle in Edo State in 2016. The change of the party from ACN to APC after the successful merger creating an even stronger national and state party, the outcome of 2015 general elections etc will play some fundamental roles in the direction of events in Edo 2016.

We will be constructing the APC in Edo State from the scratch in the coming months. It is to prepare for such challenges that we insist that the party leadership must assume supremacy. The party we are building will be one of character and discipline with assurances of transparency in all processes. In the circumstance, peace and tranquility will prevail and the party will remain intact.

You were the returning officer during the PDP presidential primary in 2003, which ushered in Obasanjo’s second term. How would you reconcile your role then and where you are today as a chieftain of the ACN?

Chief AuduOgbeh, my fellow alumnus of the Ahmadu Bello University in the late sixties and very early seventies, friend and colleague, who was the PDP national chairman at the time,  was, with the assistance of a number of young PDP governor- friends of mine, able to persuade me to undertake the task.

Those young governors, who have a lot of respect for me, worked in one way or the other with me during my tenure as the NRC national chairman 1990 – 1992 and knew my capacity to undertake difficult roles! My role was to introduce innovations to the presidential primary process and conduct the primary in a manner that would give it credibility inside and outside our country.

The contest was sensitive for various reasons and the whole world was watching. It has been generally acknowledged that I did a good job and I take ultimate responsibility for that very highly successful exercise. Most people inside and outside Nigeria hold fond memories of the vote counting … ‘Obasanjo! Obasanjo! Obasanjo and Obasanjo’ with
the occasional Rimi or Ekwueme. Many others have since attempted to imitate the process I created but have produced very poor versions.

However, I was not able to come to terms with the unfolding events during the OBJ second term tenure which came to a head by the plot to secure for himself a third term and life presidency. Chief AuduOgbeh was forced out in a very crude and uncivilizedmanner which he himself has explained on several occasions.

Vice President AtikuAbubakar suffered unmitigated hostility from his boss and was also forced then to bow out from the PDP inspite of his well known role in founding the party and facilitating General Obasanjo into the Presidency. In my case all these were made even more unacceptable by the roles and actions by one of the leaders of the party who hails from my taste and who will go down in Nigeria’s political history, particularly this stretch of PDP rule, as the brain behind several bizarre processes that have stunted democratic growth in country.

Break Away

He had the ears then of OBJ, worked unsuccessfully to secure the third term for him and was able to initiate and implement the reckless project of the de-registration of party members which finally destroyed the internal party democracy!  We who disagreed with all these things all broke away from the PDP on grounds of principle to found the Action Congress, AC, in collaboration with a major group from the AD.

The PDP has since deteriorated to virtually unacceptable levels while we have built up the AC now ACN to the enviable heights that it has assumed today. I have no regrets whatsoever to be a chieftain of the ACN as we logically now move on to unify the opposition under the banner of APC destined to carry out the urgently needed rescue mission for Nigeria.

 

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