*Says ex-President’s diabolical double-cross ended former Osun gov, other S’West govs’ 2nd term bids
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in the spotlight on Thursday for the wrong reasons as he was accused by President Muhammadu Buhari of jeopardising the chances of most South West Governors in the 2003 general election.
President Buhari stressed that former President Obasanjo’s ‘diabolical double cross’ tactics was responsible for the failure of most South West Governors, including Chief Bisi Akande of Osun State, from making second term in the 2003 general elections, which he described as “electoral massacre”.
This is even as Kehinde Akinyemi, spokesman of former President Obasanjo, refused to respond to calls and text messages sent to his phone number as at press time on Thursday.
Buhari, who extolled the virtues of former Interim National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Akande, stated this at the formal launch and Public Presentation of Akande’s autobiography, titled: “My Participations”, held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Speaking at the public presentation of the book, ‘‘My Participations,” the President said the author has retained his ‘‘inflexible integrity,” in and out of public office, never accepting or offering bribes.
The President described Akande as “a decent, truthful, and friendly person as well as an administrator of the first order, whose leadership qualities made him the unanimous choice as the first Chairman of the APC.”
Seizing the occasion, Buhari recalled his first meeting with Akande, his passion for Nigeria, achievements, and disappointment as governor of Osun State as well as his many battles to wrest power from the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
According to the President: ”My first personal contact with Chief Akande was, if I recall correctly, in 2006 when preliminary consultations were coming to fruition for a grand coalition to unseat the PDP Government.
”Those efforts eventually came to nothing. ”Neither he, nor I, nor many of our friends and associates gave up as, in Chief Akande’s words: “the country was going down and down under PDP” (p.396 of My Participations), ” he said.
The President recalled how Akande had risen to prominence from his participation in the Constituent Assembly established by the Military Government of General Olusegun Obasanjo.
”He was always in the thick of things through the difficulties and political discontinuities of the 1980s and 90s.
‘‘He emerged as Governor of Osun State in 1999 when the military handed over to the civilians.
”Chief Akande had a horrendous baptism as Governor of Osun State with discord from his own party; his State Assembly (including an attempt to impeach him without any reason whatsoever); from the trade unions and from his own deputy Governor!
”On top of that, he inherited a deeply indebted Treasury, huge arrears of salary, allowances, and pensions. Enough challenges to overwhelm many aspiring leaders.
”Bisi Akande stood four square and faced all the challenges head-on and overcame most of them.
”His first action was to stop payment of critical allowances, a euphemism for government money customarily shared by the big boys in Osun State. This set the tone of his Administration,” the President said.
Recounting the achievements of Akande, Buhari noted that: “it is on record that within one year, Akande had paid off all the salary and other arrears, showing his mettle as a competent and serious administrator.
”By 2003, Chief Akande had virtually sanitised governance in Osun State having cleared some of the troublemakers from his government and, though reluctant to serve a second term, he was persuaded to run again.”
Reflecting on the political history of the author, particularly his bid to seek a second term as Governor of Osun, President Buhari declared: ” It is common knowledge that Akande was the victim – along with other AD Governors – of a diabolical double-cross which ended his gubernatorial career. Only the steadfast Asiwaju Bola Tinubu escaped the electoral massacre masterminded by President Obasanjo.
”Desperately disappointed though he was, and being a good Muslim, he accepted this setback as part of the trials of life. He looked to the future of service to the country.”
Reminiscing on APC’s ascent to governance at the Federal level in 2015, Buhari said: ”Chief Akande was in the thick of further attempts in 2011 and 2014 to fuse together different groups and dislodge Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from governance.
”The key to his thinking which coincides with mine is that Nigeria can only be successfully managed by alliances between major groups.
”Although we failed in 2011 but by persistence and knowledge that PDP was driving the country towards disaster, several major parties were able to finally coalesce into APC in 2014 .
”Chief Akande was unanimously chosen as the first Chairman of this great coalition.
”Throughout the difficult negotiations, I found Akande truthful, steady and always with an eye to the ultimate goal.
”In or out of office, he has retained his inflexible integrity. On p.400 of his book, he wrote: ‘I never gave to or demanded bribes from anyone all my life.’ A perfect gentleman. A perfect public officer, he said.
Quoting a famous Hausa saying, ”Labarin zucciya a tambayi fuska” (loosely translated -if you want to know what is in a man’s heart watch his face), Buhari maintained that Akande has a permanent smile on his face, saying ”He is the type I will go into the jungle with.”
Commenting on the book, Buhari recommended it to students of Nigeria politics and the general public alike.
He said: ”This book is a historical document. Students will find this an invaluable source of Nigeria’s politics, notably between 1999 and 2020.”
Tinubu in his address, commended the author, Akande, describing him as a hero, a selfless leader, self-disciplined who rose from grass to grace through dint of hard work and determination.
According to Tinubu, the merger of the coalition of parties into APC in 2013 could not have been successful without the valuable effort of Akande.
Sanwo-Olu, in his speech, also described him as “a man of integrity and principle who has paid his dues in the poloitical and life struggles. His life and career is a veritable example for those of us coming behind.”
Speaking with journalists on the occasion, Governor Oyetola described the book, “My Participations,” as a compendium of reflections by a man whose philosophy about life is inspiring and trans-generational.
He also described Chief Akande as a leader par excellence, “who is always ready to give his best while in charge and always ready to give counsel, guidance and direction in familiar terrains, not afraid that his successors will surpass him.”
Minister of Science and Technology, Ogonnaya Onu, in his goodwill message, said the event was a reunion of array of personalities who had created history in Nigeria.
He noted that APC achieved extra ordinarily in the history of Nigeria. .”In less than two years in the saddle, APC made history from opposition to governing party and today, Nigeria remains the largest economy in Africa.”
Onu, while acknowledging the immense contributions of Akande to APC success, described him as, “a unique personality, who deserved to be celebrated. A self-made man with determination to succeed. He was born poor but never allowed it to deter him.
“He became politician of politicians, yet, still humble.
“One of the things he will be remembered most for, is that he always stood by whatever he believes in. His honesty works for him, ever smiling.”
Personalities at the occasion were the chief host, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; All Progressives Congress, APC, National Leader, and former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu;
Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi; Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola; Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; and Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa.
Former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel; Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Interior, represented by his son; Governor of Kano State, Abdullaii Ganduje, represented by his deputy, Gawuna; Governor of Kwara State, Abdulraham Abdulrasak; chairman of the occasion, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; and Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, were in attendance.
Others include Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Senator Tokunbo Abiru; Senator Solomon Adeola, representing Lagos Senatorial West; Opeyemi Bamidemi; Governor of Yobe State, Maila Buni; Governor of Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun; Senator Musuliu Obanikoro;
Senator Ganiyu Olarewanju Solomon, GOS; Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi; Dr. Usman Bugaje; Prof Ayobami Kehinde; the book reviewer, Mr. Segun Ayobolu; members of the Lagos State Executive Council; Executives of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Supporters Group;
Women for South West Agenda for Asiwaju, SWAGA, Lagos State; delegation from Osun State; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu I, represented by White Cap Chiefs, and other monarchs among others.