The Umbrage War Between Atiku and Tinubu Campaigns

In the past couple of weeks, allegations of corruption against the leading contenders for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria have taken center stage. This is contrary to the view that I canvased in an article published in the mass media in September of last year titled ‘‘Presidency 2023: A Contest Between Three ‘Sinners’?”.

In that piece, I had drawn attention to the fact that the front liners for the 2023 presidential contest, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Wazirin Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Peter Obi, and Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso are former public servants. And in light of the fact that Nigerians regard all present and past public office holders, especially of the political hue as corrupt, I surmised that the quartet who have served as state governors and Nigeria’s vice president respectively, are deemed to be ‘sinners’ in the eyes of Nigerian masses, and would not be bullish on corruption allegations against each other.

Furthermore, I made the case that since corruption is an over-flogged issue in Nigerian political space and an overrated factor in leadership, the presidential hopefuls are all likely to ‘let the sleeping dogs lie’ by not anchoring their campaigns on who is more corrupt or better positioned to fight the menace.

It had seemed as if my prediction would come to pass with the initial focus of the campaign by the demagogues being on issues about development and related matters. But corruption allegations and counter-allegations reared their ugly heads a couple of weeks ago and I got proven wrong in assuming that corruption would not be a hot-button issue or lightening rod in the 2023 general elections campaign.

And the whole shebang came by way of an allegation by one Michael Achimugu, purportedly a former media aid to former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential flag bearer.

The self-styled whistle-blower fouled the political atmosphere by releasing an audio tape (purportedly the voice of the man he claims to be his former boss) speaking about the use of Special Purpose Vehicles, SPV while serving as vice president under the administration of the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, OBJ,1999 – 2007.

It was considered a weighty allegation against the PDP presidential flag bearer and the ruling APC’s presidential campaign team decided to make a song and dance of the claim of the so-called whistle-blower by making it look like the mythical opening of a pandora box.

Mr. Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labor and Employment who is Tinubu’s Presidential Campaign Council spokesman threw down the gauntlet: “We understand that the law enforcement agencies may be reluctant to act simply because of the perception of persecution of a presidential candidate that this may evoke.

‘‘However, facts are sacred. The facts so far presented to the world clearly indicate that Atiku Abubakar has a case to answer. In other climes when such serious allegations arose in the middle of campaigns, law enforcement agencies acted decisively.

“The issue of the Marine Float Account is not new to Nigerians. In the voice note, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar can be heard boasting that the issue of that account was thoroughly investigated by EFCC, yet then he was smart enough to escape.

“However, we note that in 2006, at the height of his public quarrel with Obasanjo over the sharing of money, the same PDP officially asked Atiku Abubakar to refund N500 million taken from that account.”

And the Atiku Abubakar campaign, having been provoked, and appears no longer interested in ‘letting sleeping dogs lie’ has unleashed damning allegations of corruption against the APC standard bearer.

Mr. Deji Ologbondiyan, a spokesman of Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council seemed to have hit Tinubu with what can be compared to a sledgehammer with the following weighty allegations:

“This is the case in the vexatious plots by Asiwaju Tinubu to divert attention from his litany of atrocities by seeking to impugn the impeccable character of our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, with the unfounded controversy of corruption.

“Today, the entire world has seen that the real Mr. SPV; the Corruption kingpin, the real ‘artful dodger’ of Nigeria is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the ‘emilokan’ Presidential Candidate of the APC.

“Bola Tinubu, sensing that his many corrupt activities, especially his fleecing of Lagos State with many Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) companies were about to come to light, rushed to hire a serial blackmailer, as he has always done, to foul the public space with fabricated allegations against Atiku Abubakar.

“Nigerians now know of how Tinubu has been desperately trying to divert attention from his alleged use of Alpha Beta Consulting Limited and Alpha Beta LPP, companies he reportedly owned by proxy, to loot N100bn tax money belonging to Lagos State, since 2002.

“It is now in the public domain how Alpha Beta, which has for over 20 years held the exclusive rights to collect taxes in Lagos State in return for a commission under very shady arrangements through which it reportedly siphoned billions of naira belonging to Lagos State.

“The public is now aware of a petition before an anti-corruption agency wherein Tinubu’s alleged SPV company was reported to have used another company that shares the same address with Tinubu’s office on Idowu Taylor Street in Lagos to launder Lagos State funds.

“Documents sighted in one of the anti-corruption agencies reveals that Tinubu’s SPV allegedly laundered over N20 billion ($46.5m) in different currencies to several companies, including payment of N1bn ($2.3m) to company that is widely known to belong to him.

“Bola Tinubu should come out clean and speak to these damning money laundering allegations against him.

“He should explain to Nigerians how billions of naira belonging to Lagos State and meant for the welfare of the people, reportedly found its way into Soft Alliance and ended in bits and pieces in foreign currencies into domiciliary accounts allegedly owned by him in commercial banks.”

To what end would the ongoing umbrage between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Wazirin Atiku Abubakar campaigns serve, readers are wont to ask?

The truth is that, beyond being a pure mudslinging exercise which has raised the scandal content in the campaign season a few notches higher, there is no other immediate benefits since the hoopla cannot prevent the antagonist or protagonists from participating in the general election that would hold in less than 30 days.

It is rather fortuitous that in his famous 1st day of January 2023 Open Letter to Nigerians, particularly the youths, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, had co-incidentally validated the belief that all the four presidential front runners are not saints, as I had posited in my earlier cited last September essay titled ‘‘Election 2023: The Three Presidential Front Runners Are ‘Sinners’.’’ The president emeritus, OBJ had put it this way: “None of the contestants is a saint…”

Obviously, too much had already been thrown up about corruption allegations against members of the political class and especially the leading candidates in the current contest during previous election circles.

So, corruption is an issue that has been over flogged in my reckoning, and it does not merit being the center piece of any serious election campaign in this new season.

Although the position above may appear to be radical, it is pragmatic. My justification for the radical posture is: how far has anti-corruption taken us since 2015 when our country anchored government’s agenda on it?

Are we happy with where we are right now in our country whereby life has been reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature so much so that our compatriots are having brutish existence owing to socioeconomic and political hardships wreaking havoc on the critical mass of Nigerians arising from wrong-headed policies or sacrifice of wealth creating opportunities on anti-corruption Altar?

Another underlying reason for the belief that corruption should not be an issue in the current political dispensation is hinged on the fact that all the presidential standard bearers of the most likely parties to win the presidency, APC, PDP, LP and NNPP have been passed through the crucible of scrutiny for probity and accountability by the relevant anti-graft agencies.

Some, particularly the PDP flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar has had his public service records scrutinized as recently as the last election circle in 2019 when he contested against the incumbent.

The scrutiny of the public service records of Wazirin Abubakar is so intense that everything in his cupboards have been turned inside out, yet his records have remained unassailable in the eyes of the law. But in the eyes of the public, he is deemed to be corrupt owing to a nasty fight that he had with his former boss, OBJ, who in a feat of vendetta apparently decided to smear him by tagging him with corruption toga with no scintilla of evidence whatsoever except claims in his book ‘‘My Watch” where in chapter 36 he alleged that his second -in-command misappropriated $20m and $125m funds belonging to PTDF – a petroleum intervention agency. It is an allegation that Wazirin Atiku Abubakar has consistently denied and of which his accusers have no proof of evidence.

Although, the PDP presidential flag bearer is squeaky clean in the eyes of the law based on his victories in the law courts, false allegations that he sold public assets to himself and cronies when he served as the vice president of Nigeria and held the position of the chairman of national economic council and privatization committee (1999-2003) has continued to swirl around him and taint his public service records.

It is unfortunate that the negative toga has become stuck on him all these years, even though there is no evidence whatsoever to support the false allegations and narratives circulated in the social media. As I write this essay, no one has been able to identify a single federal government asset that was sold to Wazirin Atiku Abubakar or his cronies.

Neither the retail petrol stations nor the steel production mills or automobile assembly plants formerly owned and sold by government belong to Atiku Abubakar or his associates.

So, the reality is that the ex-vice president and PDP standard bearer Atiku Abubakar has been a victim of jungle justice characterized by the public lynching which he has been suffering in the hands of those savaging him based on false allegations that he sold public assets to himself during the privatization exercise carried out under OBJ’s regime 1999-2007.

Hopefully, a trending video recording in the social media showing Wazirin Atiku Abubakar being exonerated of any wrong doing by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the current governor of Kaduna state and former Director-General, DG of the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE which is the agency that handled the sale of government assets during OBJ’s reign and under Atiku Abubakar’s leadership would finally confirm to Nigerians that the former vice president has been maliciously tagged as corrupt without corroborating evidence.

Like the PDP presidential candidate, the other leading candidates such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of All Progressives Party, APC, have also been investigated by relevant anti-corruption agencies to ascertain his worthiness or otherwise for public office.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of PDP last contested for public office in 2003 which is about 20 years ago. And Mr. Peter Obi of Labor Party, LP last vied for governorship post in 2007. That is some 16 years ago, and as running mate to PDP flag bearer in 2019- four (4) years ago. Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of New Nigeria National Party, also last contested for the governorship of Kano state in 2011 and 2015 when he vied for a senate seat and won.

As earlier stated, the common thread holding the quartet together is that they have all occupied public offices and they have also been very heavily investigated by our country’s anti-corruption agencies on the issue of corruption since the return of multi-party democracy in Nigeria in 1999.

The investigations were so thorough that all the warts in their cupboards have been exposed, just as presumed skeletons in the graves have also been exhumed.

To that extent, corruption issues which had been the dominant subject of discussions by political office seekers in our country even before independence were not expected to continue to occupy left and center of politics in 2023.

In fact, it is disappointing that despite the prominence or notoriety that acts of corruption and the fight against the crime have gained in the nearly sixty-three (63) years of existence of our country, not much has changed the negative trajectory to positive optics. Instead, corruption has witnessed an uptick, rather than ebb.

By and large, getting rid of corruption as evidenced in all the coup plotters speeches made to justify their actions via their broadcasts on radio or television and in the scripts published in newspapers or magazines; unacceptable levels of corruption have always been one of their grouse and main objectives for their toppling of governments since 1966 when the first coup d etat happened.

Unquestionably, what the scenario above tells us is that the key reason which the military always adduced as justification for their incursion into politics is consistent with the objectives of politicians who also front load corruption as their motivation for seeking to replace their counterparts or rivals in leadership positions during political power contestations via the ballot box.

Although, corruption concerns have remained the constant or reoccurring decimal over the years under both military dictatorships and democratic regimes, nothing has changed for the better. Instead, corruption has gained more grounds in our country. That is despite all the energy invested even before our country gained self-rule and independence in 1960.

In line with the narrative above, it is unsurprising that corruption was the defining feature of the 2015 election as then president Goodluck Jonathan led PDP government at the center was painted massively with the brush of corruption by its then rival and main opposition, APC.

Having succeeded in literally hanging corruption chain around the neck of PDP like a heavy log by then opposition APC, then president Goodluck Jonathan and PDP got thrown into the sea to sink to the bottom until recent times that PDP is resurfacing after being under the water in the past eight (8) years.

And the new ruling APC wooed the electorate over to its side with the slogan “Kill Corruption Before It Kills Nigeria” But contrary to the APC mantra that resonated with the masses in the past nearly eight (8) years of the party governing at the center, corruption has almost literally and practically killed Nigeria and Nigerians.

Hence, I am of the conviction that the masses have become too fatigued by the monumental level of corruption being perpetrated under APC leadership since 2015 that it mounted the saddle in Aso Rock Villa seat of presidential power, which is why the desire of the electorate now is not to elect another real or imagined corruption fighter, but a wealth and prosperity builder for the nation.

My candid advise is that what should be the prime quest of Nigerians is for a new president with the cognate experience in terms of having good grasp of the issues of governance in order to rescue them from the menace of insecurity of lives and properties via effective and efficient policing.

The potential president should also be someone who will pursue the agenda of development and progress via provision of infrastructure as well as someone savvy enough to engender prosperity for majority of the populace by introducing policies that would promote creation of jobs for the masses in order for them to enjoy improved standard of living.

For the sake of emphasis, in the forthcoming general elections, I am advocating that it would not be wise for Nigerians to be looking for a messiah in the form of one who claims to have zero tolerance for corruption which was the prime criteria in choosing our president in 2015, and which has turned out to be a catastrophic mistake.

Put succinctly, recruiting our political leaders, especially a president based on false hope anchored on corruption free country of Eldorado dimensions, as Nigerians have found out the hard way can be fatalistic.

That is evidenced by the current rapid descent of our country into a state of nature where life is brutish, anarchic and devoid of civility. And it is why in 2023, Nigerians must be wise enough to realize the fact that our cherished country does not need a Saint to rescue her from the monumental socioeconomic and political quagmire in which it is currently mired.

With the highlighted new criteria for political leader’s recruitment in 2023 based on pragmatism and influenced by the dynamics of the existential issues or the demons bedeviling the masses that need to be slayed, the media which is the agenda setter had successfully steered the dialogue by political office seekers towards developmental issues as opposed to corruption-based matters.

It was so fitting and gratifying that the dominating dialogues on election 2023 became centered around proposed solutions to the horrendous state of insecurity of lives and properties that are about to utterly destroy our country; the devastating rate of poverty that is on the verge of eclipsing the nation and seriously wreaking havoc on the populace as well as the toxic level of disunity suffocating our country and pushing it to the precipice owing to the politics of zero sum politics that has become highly entrenched in our country, instead of multi sum politics that could have availed all the nationalities a good sense of belonging.

All of the aforementioned challenges and how to tackle them had already been put in the front burner of discussions via political parties’ manifestos, rallies, town hall meetings, focus groups, etc., that were unfolding particularly after the party primaries that ended last June, before the hurly burly of corruption that has now seized the atmosphere.

So, the campaign for 2023 general elections was reasonably and basically undramatic, except for the occasional gaffes/goofs in speeches allegedly made by APC presidential candidate, Tinubu during his campaign engagements that generated comic relief.

That was the prevailing atmosphere until the bursting into the public space of the purported audio recording of former vice president Atiku Abubakar speaking about Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV that has now shifted national dialogue from more pressing essential issues with a view to finding solutions to our myriads of challenges back to corruption which had defined 2015 general elections.

The sordid turn of events is owed to the reactive instead of responsive actions of the spokespersons of the leading candidates, particularly Mr. Festus Keyamo of APC who has recently boiled down the electioneering process to corruption.

In this season of politics, whereby it is easy for innocuous or insignificant issues to get amplified and escalated to achieve selfish political ends, the ruling APC’s campaign spokesman, Mr. Festus Keyamo has succeeded in making a mountain out of mole hill of the incident with the likely intention of upending the focus of the campaign from national development issues to anti-corruption matters thereby resurrecting the ghost of 2015.

And it is to the chagrin of most Nigerians; not because dealing with corruption matters is not important, but with barely thirty days (30) days to 25 February which is the D-Day for the presidential polls, diverting attention of voters from developmental issues of the future to past incidents of alleged malfeasance is redundant and detestable.

Assuming the so-called whistle blower’s claim is valid, Mr. Keyamo who believes he literally has a ‘loaded gun’ with which he is intending to shoot down the ambition of the PDP presidential flag bearer may end up hurting his principal, Mr. Bola Tinubu more than his target.

That is because in his attempt to slay the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, he would inadvertently be pointing the gun at his principal, former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who obviously would prefer to steer conversations about 2023 presidential contest away from the issue of corruption.

The assertion above is underscored by the reality that an ugly specter of corruption is basically like an ever-present sword of Damocles hanging over the APC standard bearer who has long ago been tarred black with the brush of corruption since he served as governor in 1999 till date.

By and large, the APC campaign management council would view Keyamo’s apparent misadventure as resurrecting the ghosts which the APC presidential candidate must have been praying would be forgotten in consonance with the conventional wisdom: “let the sleeping dogs lie”

So, the Tinubu campaign council’s spokesman hyperventilation and righteous indignation about the alleged use of SPV by PDP presidential candidate when he was vice president of Nigeria may not augur well with or be in the best interest of Mr. Tinubu. Apparently, the activist in my good friend Mr. Keyamo is overshadowing the politician in him.

Hence, he has suddenly changed from being a politician marketing his candidate to Nigerians with a view to getting them to elect him as their next president to a fire spitting anti-corruption activist in the mold of the fiery lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana with whom he was a member of the highly regarded human/civil rights lawyers club.

It is really unsurprising to some of us that judicial activism which is actually Keyamo’s first love would be clashing with his new personality as a politician.

That Mr. Keyamo boasted during a Channels television interview that if his principal Mr. Tinubu is averse to his line of action which is tantamount to diverting the course of the campaign, he was ready to resign from APC campaign council to personally pursue his agenda of bringing the PDP presidential candidate down; validates my prediction that a battle between the two diametrically opposite personalities would be raging inside him.

And contemplating resigning from the role if queried by his boss for diverting attention suggests to me that other members of the campaign team, and very likely, his principal may not be on the same page with him in his intention to prosecute PDP presidential candidate on what appears to be a phantom charge that may not stand the test of thorough jurisprudence, be it analytical, sociological and theoretical aspects.

Truth be told, a mere allegation against a public officer gleaned from an unverified audio recording indicating that a SPV had been leveraged to receive party donations do not appear to me to be a lock, stock and barrel situation worthy of dissipating very precious energy.

In fact, on the contrary, a good number of legal experts believe that it may actually go down as a moment of indiscretion for Mr. Keyamo to have gone ahead to file a corruption case against the PDP presidential candidate on the 20th day of January, likely in defiance of his principal whose prime interest appears to me as being mainly to win the 2023 presidential election and not about being an anti-corruption tzar.

That is antithetical to embarking on activism into which Keyamo is channeling a lot of energy and of which he seems to have succeeded in shifting the political momentum.

Pundits further contend that it would be foolhardy if the learned silk sacrifices his privileged role as the spokesman for the ruling party’s campaign council on the altar of the alleged corruption case against PDP’s candidate which is tantamount to shadow chasing or cutting his nose to spite his face.

The assertion above is underscored by the reality that Mr. Atiku Abubakar is practically the most investigated and tried politician of our time. And he has consistently been found to be guiltless even in the instances that he fought against then incumbent president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Hoping to find the Wazirin Adamawa guilty in court of law on the basis of an alleged telephone chat with someone claiming to be a member of his staff which the PDP has identified as a random member of Atiku support group, is in my assessment equivalent to searching for a needle in a haystack because the evidence being relied upon appears to be nebulous.

In any case, Mr. Keyamo’s activist posture has now triggered an avalanche of corruption charges in the law courts and court of public opinion against APC’s Tinubu as Atiku’s Campaign team has launched counter offensive actions by similarly filing corruption cases against Mr. Keyamo’s boss, Mr. Tinubu and unleashing into the public space allegations of multiple acts of fraud allegedly committed by Tinubu leveraging SPV.

In what is tending towards looking like a judicial circus show, a stalwart in PDP has filed a suit urging the court where Mr. Keyamo filed the case against the PDP presidential candidate to extend the case to the other three presidential front runners which are: Bola Tinubu of APC, Peter Obi of LP and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of NNPP.

As a further push back, another PDP presidential campaign council spokesman, Senator Dino Melaye has also stretched the legal battle further by inviting the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA to conduct narcotics test on the APC presidential flag bearer, Mr. Bola Tinubu further thereby further fouling the already putrefied atmosphere.

The current unsavory developments are very disappointing and disheartening to me because the ultimate losers in this evolving political drama are the long-suffering Nigerian voters. Once again, they are being denied the opportunity to hear from those that would likely take over the leadership of our country politically from 29 May, as they may be unable to share with them their plans on how to pull them out of misery.

That is because the cacophony of voices arguing over who is more guilty of corruption amongst the presidential front runners is overshadowing the focus on how the electorate can obtain their PVCs, deal with the crisis of voter intimidation and suppression, sift through the maze of fake news that is getting them confused and curb the vandalization of INEC facilities, especially in south east. Those are some of the most critical issues that are currently not receiving enough attention.

Authorities should also pay attention to the sophisticated rigging of the election process as being alleged by lkenga Ugochinyere of Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP who is claiming that INEC server and data base are likely to have been compromised owing to the strange names, photo identities and biometrics of foreigners, even Caucasians that his team claim to have found on the verified and approved voters list from INEC.

Those are clear and present dangers to the forthcoming elections in our beloved country that are more pressing than fighting corruption. Besides, Nigeria is not a mosque or church where piety is the pre requisites for choosing leaders such as imams or Mullahs and bishops and pastors.

The most successful, wealthiest and industrialized nations in the world-USA and China-do not make anti-corruption their number one criteria when choosing their political leaders. Otherwise, the contest for political offices would be between the heads of the Evangelical/Protestant churches, Catholics and other faith-based groups in the USA, just as in China, it would have been a contest between those who subscribe to Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity.

Evidently, proven capacity and ability to lead the country towards accomplishing set goals of development and prosperity are the required qualities, hence those countries are the most prosperous in the world.

Rather than relying solely on corruption as a precondition, they chose their leaders from amongst those that they believe would be the best in helping the critical mass of citizens of the countries conquer life’s challenges based on their previous records of success and new proposals on how to overcome existential challenges that could impede progress.

If we in Nigeria make fighting corruption the number one item in our template for choosing our political leaders, (as we seem to have been doing since independence in 1960) we would at best be like countries such as Iran and at worst Afghanistan where purity in religion is the prime consideration in choosing their leaders and the reason life is unbearably difficult in those climes.

Clearly, our country’s constitution precludes ex-convicts from contesting for public office. And there is no where it is stated that those who have been alleged to have been corrupt or indicted, not convicted by competent courts of law, should be prevented from contesting for public office.

So, if the law courts have not convicted the individuals seeking public office, why do we allow convictions in the courts of public opinion influenced by protagonists and antagonists color our opinions of our potential leaders? To me, it equates with being led by the nose.

Therefore, let us stop wasting or dissipating our precious time and valuable energy on what can best be characterized as ‘holier than thou’ approach to choosing our political leaders currently at play.

We must not miss the opportunity of concentrating more on electing a leader with proven capacity and ability to dexterously manage the challenges that we are contending with as a country based on his previous accomplishments that have served the best interests of Nigerian masses.

By the time we succeed in using technology to tame the monster of election rigging through the deployment of technology in the form of Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS and INEC Result Viewing, IReV portal in the fast-approaching election process, we can thereafter apply technology in fixing the demon of corruption that has hobbled our country.

Given that Russian hackers are alleged to have compromised the election process in the USA by gaining access to Democratic Party technological infrastructure in the USA to influence the outcome of the general elections in the most technologically advanced country in the world, it would appear like nothing is impossible for those who try.

As politicians are known to never give up on seeking how to gain advantage, Nigerian political actors with money can afford to procure the services of Russian or Israeli hackers to perpetrate what CUPP is alleging.

In the light of the above, we all must be vigilant and pay more attention to the alarm being raised by CUPP to determine if it has merit. As I had noted in my media intervention of September last year titled: “Presidency 2023: A Contest Between Three ‘Sinners’?”, and which has been echoed by president emeritus, Olusegun Obasanjo in his famous Love Letter to Nigerians on new year day, none of the presidential hopefuls is a saint. As we all are well aware, saints do not live on earth, but in heaven. Just as it is impossible to find virgins as patients in maternity wards of hospitals.

So, it is about time that we stopped chasing shadows as reflected by the folly of making fighting corruption the most important criteria in the recruitment of our political leaders.

In conclusion, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was said to have used Alfa Beta tax consultants as SPV to fleece Lagos state, when he was the governor and till date. And he has so far successfully defended himself in the court of law. But he remains indicted in the court of public opinion.

On his part, Wazirin Atiku Abubakar is alleged to have sold public assets to himself and cronies without any proof. He has equally conclusively defended himself in the court of law which has given him a clean verdict of being guiltless. Yet, he is still being vilified by ignorant members of the public.

Ditto for Mr. Peter Obi, who although is proud to have saved for Anambra state over thirty (30) billion naira in bank coffers and one hundred and fifty (150) million dollars in three banks, one of which is Fidelity bank where he owns a major stake, he was also accused of consistently appointing care taker committees to run local government councils, instead of conducting elections for the recruitment of local government chairmen and councilors.

As such he was alleged to have indirectly been receiving and managing local government funds through his appointees as caretakers which is against the letter and spirit of the laws separating state governments from local governments.

Even if he has never been convicted of any corruption charges, he stands guilty in the estimation of some stakeholders in Anambra state for not only appearing to be perverting democracy by not conducting LGA elections throughout his tenure, but also for investing Anambra state government funds in business concerns like Fidelity bank and SABMiller brewery in Onitsha where his family business is equally an equity holder alongside the state government.

Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has been governor of Kano state, minister of defense and senator of the federal republic of Nigeria. He has also been charged by anti-graft agencies to court for corruption. So far, he is not known to have been convicted by any court of law on charges of corruption. Again, as OBJ had noted, there is no Saint amongst the presidential hopefuls.

As such, Kwankwaso is also tarred with a black brush of corruption in the court of public opinion of a wide spectrum of Kano people who do not belong to the formidable kwakwansiya movement in the state.

Having exhausted the media hype associated with conspiracy theories such as the tale by Mr. Achimugu which has gone with the winds, I hope the presidential campaign councils of both the APC and PDP would cut the chase and get back into the mode of enlightening the long-suffering Nigerian electorate who are in excess of ninety-three million (93m) INEC registered voters nationwide.

That critical mass of Nigerians are anxious to find out where they can (1) queue up to purchase petrol for as much as N500 per liter as opposed to N87 per liter pre-2015 (2) queue up to collect their PVC to exercise their civic responsibility for which they end up bribing INEC officials that are creating bottle necks; and (3) queue up to change their old naira notes to the new design which is proving to be like the proverbial passing of the Carmel’s head through the eye of the needle; (4) before finally finding their ways through the myriad of bewildering complexities in the current political web in order to make the right choice from amongst the presidential frontrunners and other public office seekers; so as to determine who can best look after their interest in the next (4) years and cast their votes for them on 25th February and 11th March for candidates of their choice and hope that from 29th May, their destiny would be in safer hands.