A(N)Tikuated Choices, By Babafemi Ojudu

Sometime in 2014, my uncle- in -law, the late Professor Babalola Borisade, requested I help him organize a meeting between Atiku Abubakar and South West Senators. Atiku was about to go for the season’s primary election that will enable him bid for the Presidency.

He and President Mohammadu Buhari were front runners for the ticket of the then recently formed All Progressives Congress (APC). About ten or twelve of us showed up for the meeting and with rapt attention we listened to both him and Borisade, his then campaign Director General (DG).

I was the first to respond.

I praised his business acumen and told the story of a female friend of mine, an award winning former Cable News Network (CNN) Correspondent in South Africa who, when invited to give a convocation speech in Atiku’s American University in Yola, sought my advice on whether to accept the invitation or not. It was at the height of the rampage by Boko Haram across the North East.
I strongly encouraged her and told her the university would ensure her security. She went and gave her speech and after the event she sent a message to me that what she saw in Yola , at the university, was ,in her words, an “oasis in the desert”.

I also cited my experience in Rivers State when I, in company of a committee of the Senate, visited Intels, a company in which Atiku has substantial interest . I was impressed with what I saw, the work environment, the goals and objective of the company as enunciated by one of his sons who received us at the company. The vibes I picked up in Intels was a mark of can- do, particularly when we were told the company was about picking up a multi billion dollar contract to build a port from scratch in a southern African country.

At the meeting, I told Atiku that with those testimonies, I would have loved to vote for him at the coming APC convention in Lagos but, and there is a big but… his image and reputation had been sufficiently damaged by no less a person than his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo.

I told him with all emphasis I could muster that he is a damaged product and he should not just waste his time. He tried to explain why his erstwhile boss chose to say and write those damaging words about him. He indicated he was not corrupt and challenged anyone who thinks otherwise to bring the evidence of his corruption.

Truly most of the accusations of under- the -table deals done by the regime in privatizing government enterprises that were laid on Atiku doorstep were actually Obasanjo inspired as we found in the course of our investigation . We invited Obasanjo then to shed more light on the allegations against him as well as our findings but he failed to show up. Our attempt to subpoena him was stalled by the Senate leadership then.

As we have come to see Obasanjo is the one who calls everyone thief when the entire community could see his fingers dripping of palm oil.

Branding is very important in public life. Atiku and his supporters didn’t give much attention to this . They rather spent their time building up and promoting lies against the opponent. If the amount of money , Social media space time and resources committed to demonizing President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo had been expended on rebranding Atiku, maybe things would have turned out differently.

Atiku’s first major error in his last bid was going back to the same Obasanjo to mend fences or seek forgiveness when he should have gone after him with the ferocity of a wounded lion to show he lied against him , if he did ,or demonstrate his innocence.

I can’t remember any major decision taken by this politician in his entire political career that didn’t turn out to hurt him .

The moment Atiku went on that journey to Abeokuta with his band of peace makers I knew he had lost the bid for the Presidency again.
Young partisans of Atiku’s opponent went out, combed every available source and researched into all Obasanjo has written and said about him to find materials, consolidating Atiku’s branding as a very corrupt politician.

Omoyele Sowore AAC dug his teeth and nail into him and presented him as an example of what is wrong with Nigerian leadership. Madam Ezekwesili was not left out until she herself got an uppercut from the Chairman of her party who doubled as her running mate.

The campaign saw a mincemeat and couscous made of his reputation and credibility. Obasanjo, who he courted to add value to his campaign became his albatross.

How dumb could he be as a politician!

It is difficult forgiving Atiku for his political blunders. He has all it take to educate himself properly and to hire people who have the capability to advise correctly.

His political faux pas kept recurring all through his career.

Let us cast our mind back to 2010 . 
Rather than stick with his party, ACN, Olagunsoye Oyinlola lured him to Abeokuta to prostrate for Obasanjo.
He thereafter quit Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and went on another adventure. He was at a meeting with Bola Ahmed Tinubu the night before . Both took time to strategize on how to build a party that will defeat Jonathan. He gave no inkling of his visit to Abeokuta the following day. His advisers had billed the meeting as a private consultation with Obasanjo but the old, never forgiving fox kept journalists somewhere in the premises and soon as the meeting ended they pounced on Atiku like a hound of watch dogs will on an unwanted visitor.

What can one say of his attitude as Vice President . Atiku could have waited the time out, demonstrate loyalty and serve the country truly. Instead of waiting for the appointed time Atiku embarked on setting up a political machine that thrashed and undermined his boss.

He allowed himself to be deceived by some governors then who met with him during the day and scurried to Obasanjo in the night to inform him of Atiku schemings.

If money making were same thing as political acumen, Atiku would have towered above any other politician in Nigeria.

His political understanding and sensibility has almost been numb. Whatever he has achieved in politics has been purchased with money and there is limit to how far that could have taken him.
Let’s not talk about his choices of running mates on the two occasions he ran for President. He has an untrammeled love for Obis. Could he have made better choices? He sure could have if he had been a much more savvy and calculating politician.

His utterances? Gosh! Every statement that came out of his mouth is politically awful. I will sell NNPC, I will enrich my friends, I will give amnesty to looters. I insist on selling NNPC even if they will kill me. Haba! Won pe e lole o ngbomo eran jo ( you are said to be a thief, you are playing with someone else’s lamb).
Some internet brats could not stand his determination to sell NNPC and quipped that it appears he has already taken deposits from buyers.
He was even quoted as saying that he will only complete the 2nd Niger Bridge because the Igbos are his in laws.

Atiku’s party hopping proclivity is astounding. A man of such means could have organized a movement around himself and his ideology if there is any. He rather chose to look for parties to hop into each time he dreams of becoming a president. Often they were parties he had abandoned before with such loud condemnation and reproof. Talk of going back to ones vomit serially.

As it turned out Atiku didn’t build a base. He support came mainly from those who hated Buhari’s guts and many others who lost undeserved entitlements .

Whenever he quits a party to join another, the reasons he often give are banal, self serving and contradictory. One often wonders why he never get to hire a sound strategist. Or is it just a question of a swollen headed wealthy, fat cat who assumes he knows it all.

I remember the mess he was made of by a young South West politician who had allegiance to three candidates in the APC primaries that produced President Buhari. He invested so much dollars in the politician who promised him many delegates.
The same politician had collected money from another aspirant from the North while he at the same time pledged support for President Buhari who he clearly knew was the favorite of the party leaders to pick the ticket.

Our man advised Atiku to stay put in his hotel suite and not to show up at the convention venue until late while he went about his deals.
It was one of Atiku’s confidants who I learnt at about 10.00 pm on the convention day roused him from this deception and scolded him for listening to the advise of someone who was everywhere on the convention ground doing deals.
Atiku eventually arrived at the venue and the young man refused to go say hello to him or even walk close to where he sat. Thousands of dollars thrown away, wasted.
I pray Atiku is not being set up by political yahooist to part with whatever is left in his war chest for the 2019 expedition. Your excellency shine your eyes well well.

-Senator Babafemi Ojudu is a Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters

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An Award Winning Political Slogan, By Babafemi Ojudu

O TO GE, the battle cry by Kwarans in the last election wins my prize for the best slogan of this election.

Whoever came up with it is a genius and should be celebrated. No word captures their aspiration better than this . It’s equivalent in English is Enough is Enough. This does not adequately capture it nuances. Only a Wole Soyinka could provide an adequate translation.

The slogan reverberated across the country like a wild fire in a dry season. It resonated in a manner no one could ignore. Political communicators will for long see it as very effective as Wet e, the slogans Yoruba of South West used in their resistance of Ladoke Akintola during the political crises of the mid 1960s.

Did Kwarans lived up to their cry? Ask Sen Bukola Saraki, the one known as Oloye ,who scampered out of Ilorin as soon as results trickled in yesterday.

For weeks he was welcomed to Ilorin at the airport with the slogan and pursued all over the towns and villages with it as he campaigned for himself and Atiku to become a Senator and President respectively. It was a humiliating and humbling time for a man who had been the major domo of a political legacy handed over to him by his father.

Yesterday he was chased up to the airport with the shout of Ole! Ole! O To Ge, that is Thief! Thief! Enough is Enough. Certainly not a good way to end a political career. This is what happens when humans play God. It always end in disaster. It shall too for every other politician or ruler with such proclivity.

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A Life In The Day Of Osinbajo, By Babafemi Ojudu

Fourth town hall in Lagos in a row. Back to back Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday addressed the Christian community at The Grill in Ikeja, Igbo residents in Lagos in another function hall in The Grill, a group of disaffected politicians in Lagos at The Regency Hall in Alausa and youths and professionals in Lekki.

Hundreds of them were there and he some questions, many of which will try a fainthearted person. He then moved to address representatives of Igbos in Lagos and he took time to address their concern.

By the time he reeled out a list of Buhari appointees of Igbo origin and the projects ongoing in the East, the issues of marginalization and “non juicy” appointments fizzled out like smoke.

From there it was to Lekki where young men and women drilled him on issues of economy, unemployment and corruption.

For the disaffected politicians he generally pleaded with them to be patient while they remain committed to their party and its objectives.

With candor he took every question and patiently explained what appears as grey area in government policy, giving statistics here, examples there and throwing wits and humor in between.

It is surprising the little the people know, or do we say, are willing to know. For example how can anyone say that Ministries such as Trade and Investment, Education, Technology, Labour are not important or “juicy” enough for the Igbos.

Or that the CBN governor and other Igbos from Delta State are no Igbos and therefore whichever position they are holding is not countable for Igbos.

He also addressed the issue of who gets the Presidency in 2023. He told the audience it is the votes that will determine. Let the South West, the South East as well as the South South go and mobilize the vote and whoever brings the highest number of votes on the table picks the trophy.

Overall it was a good day and very useful interaction between the leader and the led, one that has not been experienced on this scale before.

To cap it all Osinbajo walked into Ikeja City Mall where he had engagement with the Tejuosho’s who run a bookshop.

If you are at Ikeja City Mall, you might just meet VP Osinbajo as he makes his first stop at Glendora Bookstore. #Nextlevel #NextLevelEngagements#NextLevelNigeria #4plus4 pic.twitter.com/b0NsWLt5D7

— Tise.jay (@JayTise) January 20, 2019

He made a stop at a couple of shops. It was an afternoon of a thousand cameras. The young shoppers on seeing him could not resist the temptation to whip out their phones and took selfies with him.

He did it with the patience of a shepherd and his herds. Before we left the scene scores of the photographs taken were getting back to us and a particular one with an actor in it had under three hours attracted close to 20,000 likes.

This in short is a life in the day of this passionate junior partner in the task of building a great Nigeria.

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Never Again! By Babafemi Ojudu

Quote me: the coming Presidential election will be the cheapest ever in the history of our country.

This government will not loot the treasury or empty the Central Bank to buy votes. Money meant for arms will not be diverted to buy prayers from pastors and Alfas. INEC officials are not going to be paid to manipulate figures in favor of The President and his party. Security men will do their job as stipulated by the terms of their engagement. Above all, voters will be allowed to vote according to the dictates of their conscience.

About this time in 2015, the nation was awash with cash, both in local and foreign currencies. Money meant for arms, for infrastructural development and for the provision of good life for the people was diverted and shared out among the big shots in the ruling party. A bit of it trickled down to the people and everyone had a big party.

I recall that President Jonathan relocated to Lagos with the intent to capture Lagos and the South West by all means. With boxes of dollars to boot, his residence in Marina became a Mecca for those seeking free money. He was merrily scammed.

All manner of Oodua associations sprang up. Every one scrambled to share from the largesse and our President became a ‘donatus‘. I remember some fellows I know who came up with an ‘Association of White Witches.’ Soon after they had collected their share, the Black Witches also surfaced to pick theirs. Elders who once were politically influential but now expired and no longer relevant quickly dug up their old credentials and queued to have their share.

Obas, Obis, Emirs were not left out. Beads to validate their claims to royalty became scarce in the market. Alfas, Imams and all manner of people laying claim to have direct access to God were contracted from within and abroad. A northern political big wig got a multi-billion naira contract to go to Sudan, Egypt and Morocco to bring in some more marabouts. At the end of the day, the people’s will prevailed.

I am using this opportunity, therefore, to inform our compatriots who daily troop to my office with proposals asking for loads of money to organize rallies and do one thing or the other to perish the thought.

This government will not dip its hand into government coffers to run a campaign. It is not done in sane societies and it shall not be done under the Buhari regime.

Let us follow the example of the farmers who are taxing their members N100 each to support the president.
So far we have about 800 support groups. On their own, they are mobilizing resources to organize rallies and produce souvenirs. This, many are doing even when Mr President has not announced his campaign council.
Like a guerrilla army, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is surfacing in market places, doing street walks and entering the homes of the disadvantaged and listening to their challenges, get first hand information on what is important as valuable to them.
The PDP is jittery. They are not used to this kind of campaign and they don’t know how to respond other than throwing. The few gentlemen among them are so frustrated to the point of throwing tantrum. Never knew a man like Dogara could go saucy. The season is bringing out the worst out of hitherto reasonable folks.

We are teaching them a new mode of campaigning, a new politics.

If you believe in President Buhari go out there and raise fund for your activities. This President has made up his mind not to deploy Nigeria’s resources to buy votes.

Change is certainly here. It is real.

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Reps Report Had No Corruption Allegation Against Osinbajo – Ojudu

Nowhere in the House of Representative Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness report was there an allegation of corruption against the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and this is why claims against him from some quarters regarding the report are mere political contrivances intended to distract him.

This view was expressed by Senator Babafemi Ojudu, the Presidential Political Adviser, while responding to press inquiries about information circulating in the social media on plots to target the Vice President hatched at the meeting of a major political party abroad, regarding 2019 election.

“It is evident that the opposition are in search of company for their acts of grand corruption which brought Nigeria to its knees as of May 2015. They cannot find that company in the Vice President,” the adviser noted.

He continued: “first, there is nowhere in the politicized House of Reps report where the VP was accused of corruption or embezzlement of funds. I challenge them to quote any word or sentence that makes such an accusation.

“Even the House Committee Chairman has said there was no allegation of corruption against him. The only allegation is that he approved funds for the emergency operations in the North East from the consolidated Revenue Fund not budgeted funds. This conclusion we have proved to be false. The funds approved were from budgeted funds, specifically the Rice Levy,”

Sen. Ojudu said the recent NEMA probe report which social media account disclosed may have been authored at that meeting in a foreign country, was one of such efforts plotted to attack the Buhari administration by tarnishing the image of the Vice President.

“We have read reports in the media that the meeting in a foreign country of the major opposition party was centered on trying to attack the Buhari administration by targeting the Vice President using different tactics.

“It is now evident through the NEMA report, that the opposition is indeed making frantic efforts to tarnish the image of the Vice President,” he said.

He explained that even after Hon. Ali Isa, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness had publicly admitted that the Vice President was not mentioned in the report, the opposition still found it expedient to continue, baselessly, to attack the reputation of Prof. Osinbajo by claiming without proof or any shard of evidence that fraud was committed in the N5.8b Emergency Food Intervention Fund for North-East.

He asserted that the presidential approvals were well within lawful authority of the then Acting President.

“Let us remember that the approval granted by Prof. Osinbajo was in response to the threat of hunger and starvation based on information received from the United Nation World Food Programme in April, 2017. The organization had issued a warning that it would be reducing its vital support to about 1.8 million IDPs by as much as 85%, due to the corresponding reduction in funding by the donor countries. Around the same time, the United Nations Commission for Refugees in Geneva also warned of the growing risk of mass deaths from starvation among people living in the conflict areas.

“Besides, it is also important to note that the procurement process was not ignored in the release of funds, as alleged. Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act makes provision for emergency procurement, in which case the procuring entity is allowed to engage in direct contracting for goods and file a report thereafter with the Bureau of Public Procurement.

“Also, the BPP issued a ‘certificate of no objection’ to NEMA on the emergency procurement, and this addresses all issues relating to the alleged breach of due process,” Sen. Ojudu said.

The presidential adviser then added that the action of the opposition in the ensuing political drama indicates that the NEMA probe report is being politicized and is only a lame attempt at ruining the good works of the Buhari administration.

According to the Political Adviser, “the immediate past presidency have been unable to explain how in the years that Nigeria earned the highest revenue under its watch -$381B, when compared to any other administration since 1999, there is little or nothing to show for it.”

He said the Vice President will however not be distracted by the naysayers’ actions to discourage the Buhari administration from providing for the common man or to abandon the Social Investment Programme which it has budgeted half a trillion for in the past two years.

Sen. Ojudu added that the administration will continue to cater for Nigerians especially those at the bottom of the ladder, regardless of the antics of the opposition party.

“We know what is happening, but the administration will not be distracted. Our goals and objectives to put Nigeria on the solid path of greatness is now unstoppable and Prof. Osinbajo will not relent in that effort,” the presidential adviser concluded.

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Defectors Are Political Normads, Says Senator Ojudu

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, has described the governors, lawmakers and others who defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as “political nomads” who were denied stealing strategy by the Buhari- led government.

Ojudu stated this while speaking with newsmen in Calabar the Cross River state capital.

The presidential aide said their defection was a blessing in disguise to both the president and the people of Nigeria.

He said the ordinary people of Nigeria know the integrity of the president which the defectors were not comfortable with before they left for their old homes.

Three governors and many federal and state legislators have left the ruling All Progressives Congress for the People’s Democratic Party over irreconcilable political differences.

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‘Atiku Is Desperate To Be President,’ Says Buhari’s Aide

Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, has condemned the recent defection of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ojudu, who appeared on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme described the former vice-president as a serial defector, who is desperate with his presidential ambition.

“Atiku’s defection is not surprising. During the meeting of the G-19, the Legacy Group that formed the APC, Atiku was there. We laid our programmes as a government before the party leaders and asked for their contributions. He was the only person who refused to talk,” he said.

“The second time the meeting was called, Atiku did not attend. We knew that he would leave. Each time he wants to leave a house, he demolishes the house.

“Though it will be stupid to dismiss his weight, he is an asset to an extent that he stays there. His goal is to become president. If he cannot get the ticket, he will leave.

“Atiku is playing his last card. He is desperate to be president. If President Buhari gets a second term, he knows that the presidency will go to another region. Before it goes back to the north, it may take years and he would have become old.

“What were the contributions of Atiku to APC’s efforts to rebuild Nigeria? What has he done in Adamawa to solve the problem of unemployment? What agenda for youths did he take to the president that was rejected?”

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President Buhari Urges Muslim Clerics To Preach Against Corruption In Mosques

President Muhammadu Buhari, has urged Muslim clerics and Islamic religious leaders in the country to preach against the evils of corruption in their mosques.

Buhari, represented by his Special Adviser on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, spoke yesterday at the 55th anniversary and national conference of the League of Imams and Alfas in Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states, held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

The event was also used to officially turban the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Sarafa Tunji Ishola, as the Baba Adinni of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states.

“Corruption is one of the major problems facing our country. Always preach against corruption in your mosques. Corruption does not pay, impress it on your congregation that anyone who engages in corruption will not enter Al-Janah.

“You should also continue to pray for the unity and survival of Nigeria. This is because prayer is key, your prayers actually worked for me as I recovered from illness,” Buhari said.

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