Election times are fun times indeed. In Kogi State where governorship elec tion is due in November, this year, the –
campaigns took a surprisingly funny dimension recently when the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Hadi Ametuo, in a statement, threw in a piece of hilarious banter.
The statement was taken very serious in media circles and it became a trending subject of discussion on social media for several days. Alhaji Hadi Ametuo had said that the party’s candidate in the November governorship election in the state, Prince Abubakar who is also standing trial for alleged theft of public funds to the tune of N11 billion Naira would refund the money after his re-election.
He, therefore, urged the people to vote for Prince Audu in the election so that he would be in a position to refund the
alleged stolen money.
Since that statement, I have waited and watched out for a denial from Alhaji Hadi himself, the state APC or the campaign office of Prince Audu but I have not seen any. That has reinforced my belief that the statement is,
indeed, the true position of the party and the candidate.
That is to say that the only way the alleged stolen money which belongs to the people of the state would be refunded is for the people to reward the suspected thief with a fresh governorship mandate. In other words, the people must not fail to re-elect Audu in November. For, if they do, they can as well say good bye to their N11 billion.
In case the APC chairman is unaware, the statement is, by implication, an admission by the party on behalf of the candidate that he actually stole the money in question. By implication also, the party is asking that the candidate should be given another opportunity, through the November election, to steal more and from his booty, pay the people and then keep the hefty change.
This is also a loaded statement on the extent that our politicians can go to ridicule the people on whose behalf
and interest they claim to aspire to political office.
But the far more grave issue which this statement has thrown up is the fact that theAPC, the political party that produced Preisdent Muhammadu Buhari who is highly reputed to be honest and incorruptible has not only encouraged but has widely opened the political space for people with questionable moral credentials to aspire to public office using its platform.
Even as military head of state, Buhari never allowed military officers with questionable records to be appointed military governors. He took a position behind clean moral and ethical credentials as key qualification n for consideration for public appointments.
There was even the story of how General Buhari, as head of state, silently dropped a military governor whose appointment had already been announced and was substituted with another officer from a different arm of the military but with identical surname just because the first appointee’s wife was remotely connected with some acts of corruption. The state in question was the old Cross River State.
Today, that same Buhari is the President and the political party he co-founded is throwing up men who are patently corrupt and unfit for public office and he is watching helplessly? It is surprising and people are asking if politics
has changed the Buhari that they had always known. In the case of Prince Abubakar Audu, there are several cases of corruption pending against him arising from his first tenure as governor of the Kogi State.
Yet the APC has end o r s e d him as its candidate and he is a l r e a d y fully in the field campaigning to be
e l e c t e d to govern again.
T h e B u h a r i administration has never made pretensions about its intention to probe and jail politicians
found guilty of corruptly enriching themselves. And this has been applauded at various times. Recent, he set up a seven-member Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption headed by Professor Itsey Sagay, to advise him on his anti-corruption war.
That is how determined he is about fighting corruption which is today the country’s worst enemy against socio-economic development.
If politicians suspected to have corruptly enriched themselves are being brought to trial, is it not, therefore,contradictory that the same government behind these trials will at the same time encourage others already standing trial to vie for elective positions?
The case of Prince Abubakar Audu is one of the best examples of this contradiction. The best attitude is that he should be stopped from the contest for lack of the necessary moral credentials. Let him first of all sort out his corruption allegation problems. It is not safe to put the state in the hands and under the leadership of a man suspected to have stolen N11 billion.
His party is saying he will payback only if he is re-elected. But where will that money come from if not public coffers? Scandal is the name of what this will eventually lead to and President Buhari must not be party to it. He should halt these macabre series of fraudulent intrigues that can only make life and living worse for the good people of Kogi State if allowed to go on.
– Omeiza Danjuma
•Danjuma is a public affairs commentator