The Need To Avoid Charalatans By Okoi Obono-Obla
As we await the appointment of Ministers and other important officials of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, it is imperative that the Party (All Progressives Congress) and the President Buhari be wary of the lobbying for appointment by opportunists, jobbers, hustlers, charlatans and ‘members of Every Government in Power’ who do not believe in anything other than self-aggrandisement.
President Buhari and the Party must ensure that only genuine patriots, competent and principled people are appointed into the Council of Ministers of the Federation and other strategic departments of government.
The President and the Party must ensure that only those with clean records are appointed. The Party and President must avoid appointing those who are turn-coats or have become turn-coats and abandoned the PDP to romance, flirt and hobnob with leading members of the Party and the Presidency (because it is now convenient to so do – success indeed has many fathers, failure none!). Those new-fangled lovers and admirers of the Party’s Progressive Ideology, President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, must be avoided like the plague and or with a long spoon.
One of such persons is the former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke. This is a man that virtually killed opposition in Cross River State with his dictatorial and intolerant tendencies as Governor.
In 1999 the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) (later All Nigerian Peoples Party) was arguably the strongest Party in Cross River State. The then APP won 13 seats in the 25 member seat of the Cross River State House of Assembly. The then APP equally won 2 Senatorial Districts in the Senate and about 5 seats in the House of Representatives. The then APP also won about 11 out of the 18 Local Government Councils in the State.
However the PDP won the Governorship election in the State. Donald Duke defeated the APP candidate, Mark Ukpo, to become the 3rd elected Governor of Cross River State. As soon as he was sworn into the office Donald Duke contrived a plot to emasculate the opposition in the State.
Donald Duke used guile, political patronage, financial inducement, chicanery, stick and the carrot to woo the members of the APP to defect to PDP that left the Party deeply fractured, fragmented and weakened.
Donald Duke ensured that before his eight years in office as Governor expired in Cross River State the opposition was killed and a one Party dictatorship foisted in the State.
Throughout this period the Independent National Electoral Commission, became an appendage of the Governor’s office. Donald Duke appointed the wife of a principal officer in INEC Office in the State the Chairman of a leading Board in the Educational Sector in the State. This particular officer of INEC was believed to have helped Donald Duke and PDP to rig virtually all elections conducted by INEC in the State from 1999 until he left office in 2007 as Governor. Later Donald Duke in a Public Forum in Lagos in 2009 or so made a startling confession how INEC in the State was compromised to rig the 2003 and 2007 General Elections in favour of PDP.
Donald Duke was contemptuous of other branches of government in the State as Governor. Donald Duke ensured that Cross River State House of Assembly become a pliant and compromised, Parliament. Donald Duke also threatened Judges of the High Court who were perceived to be independent minded.
Donald Duke’s government was hyped by pundits as an efficient and good government that transformed the Cross River State from an economic backwater to an economic success story. But remove the façade of Tinapa and other white elephant projects that Donald Duke embarked on, all you get is nothing but a farce and fluke economic success story that was rooted on corruption and graft.
At the end of Donald Duke’s regime in 2007, the bubble busted. The State became virtually insolvent. The State ran into dubious debts of more than N100 billion that was purportedly invested into Tinapa despite the fact we were made to believe that it was Public/Private Sector driven.
Billions of allocations from the Federation Accounts to Local Government Councils were seized by Donald Duke and purportedly invest into Tinapa to buy shares. Till today none of these Local Governments’ Councils in the State have been issued with a Share Certificate to show that they own shares in Tinapa.
Corruption in government was rife. Public funds were donated to NGOS belonging to his family. Donald Duke bought a N500 Million Property from the Federal Government in Ikoyi, Lagos, while in office as Governor, in 2005. Donald Duke also built a palatial apartment block and converted same into his private property.
Donald Duke seized State lands in Diamond Hill, in Calabar. Donald Duke seized choice lands in Ekorinim in Calabar, forcefully from poor families in the guise of ‘public interest’ and converted same into his own property. Petitions sent to the EFC and ICPC seeking for the investigation of Donald Duke were effectively blocked by him using his clout, influence and corruption.
While the APC was campaigning for the last Presidential Election, Donald Duke avoided the APC like a leper would be avoided. When former President Jonathan came to campaign for re-election in January 2015 in Cross River State, Donald Duke was in the Stadium where the rally took place and addressed the crowd as one of the leaders of the PDP and sought their support for Jonathan.
However, Nigerians were pleasantly surprised when Donald Duke and his wife surfaced in the house of then President elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, just three days after victory of President Buhari, scheming to ingratiate him into the new regime. He granted press interviews and was quoted suggesting that although he was not a member of the APC, he is a friend of President Buhari. Soon stories were planted in the media that Donald Duke is a possible Ministerial appointee! Thereafter he started Flirting with the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.