By Stephen Ubanna
In spite of the fact that Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and his electoral officials, have not officially lifted the ban on political Campaigns for the 2019, general elections, the political Elites appear to have jumped the jumped gun .
This is evident going by what is happening in the states as the political Elites are taking advantage of every social gathering to sell their party manifesto and Candidates. The last Father’s day celebration in the country speaks volume.
Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia state and Chieftain of All Progressive Congress, APC, may have thrown caution to the wind to transverse the nooks of the country to canvass for support for president Muhammadu Buhari,of the ruling the APC Presidential Candidate in the 2019 Presidential election, in what polical analysts described as payback time.
only recently, the business mongul, who has in Jiawa state had met Sule Lamido, a former governor of the state who was said to be nursing a Presidential ambition on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He was said to have told the former Jigawa state born PDP political Chieftain that he was on tour of the country ”to sensitize Nigerians on the dire need to allow Buhari to continue in office in 2019”.
The former Abia governor who is championing Buhari re-election bid reportedly said that voting for the PDP or any other party Candidate other than Buhari in 2019 would amount to drawing the hand of the clock back as it would open the floodgate of the country treasury for looters to return.
Many believe that Kalu was merely acting out the script of Buhari who sees the PDP and the former Olusegun Obasanjo sponsored African Democratic Coalition, ADC, plot to unseat him in 2019 as a ploy to loot the treasury. It is not surprising why the former Abia state governor said he would never support lamido if he decides to run against Buhari in 2019.
political Observers had said that he had joined the vanguard of those campaigning for the re-election of Buhari to protect his sagging political image in Abia state and draw him closer to Buhari who n calls the shot .
He may be alone among the Ibgo political class who has come out openly to throw his weight behind Buhari re-election bid in 2019. This is because of the believe in Igbo circles that the Katsina state President of Nigeria hates them. His appointments into the key positions in the government where the south east was completely eexcluded bear eloquent testimony .
Indeed, his actions and pronouncements since he came into office in May 29, 2019, gives a clear indication that he has no apology over his actions, mening that the Igbos should be happy for the Constitutional provision which allows for one minister to be selected from each state of the Federation, irrespective of how the state had voted in the election or the party controlling the state.
Not showing any remorse for his actions, he is still talking tough that states who fail to support his re-election bid in 2019 should not expect equal treatment with states that support him. It is not surprising why most his current appointments were from the north west and north east geo-political regions to the disagreement of the south, particular, south east. there are indications that if he wins his re-election bid without the south east support, nothing would change in his neglect of the region in political appointments.
Kalu, the former Abia governor may have read the handwriting on the wall that he has decided to draw the igbos closer to the Buhari government by throwing his weight behind his re-election bid in 2019.
But the Igbo APC Chieftain said he had dumped his own party, People progressive Alliance, PPA, to join the party because of Buhari’s” personality and integrity”. He disclosed that he was further encouraged to join the party to have a taste of relevance at the national level . He was said to have told his political supporters in the state that he no longer want to be in the opposition where he had been in the last 10 years.
Bu many believe that he had joined the APC to save his neck from the trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over a N2.9 fraud allegedly committed while in office as governor of Abia state between, 1998 and 2007.
But the former Abia state governor would not take it, stressing that his support for Buhari re-election bid has nothing to do with the case as the Commission is vigorously prosecuting the case, meaning that that if he is found guilty , he would get the appropriate punishment for it.
But on Friday, May 11, 2018, the Ibrahim Magu ledanti-graft agency finally closed the case against Kalu in Court, thus ending his troubles with the Commission. Signs that the Commission , will eventually close the case that was standing against Kalu in Court over an alleged N2.9 billion fraud, became clearer when Rotimi Jacobs, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and the anti-graft agency Lawyer , lamented the non appearance of M.A. Udoh, the major witness in the case. The legal luminary hadconfirmed that the star witness had been ” evasive”, as the agency officials were having difficulty tracking him to bring him to Court for cross-examination.
The EFCC lawyer reportedly said that for more than six months, they had noticed a trend that each time that the matter will come up for hearing in the Court, the star witness will travel to Umuhia, Calabar or Cameroun,. forcing him to apply for a subpoena. The subpoena was said to have been signed by the presiding Judge making it possible for the Commission to arrest him.
Armed with the sined subpoena , Jacobs, the anti-graft agency lawyer handling the case in Court said the Commission took it to the Abia state government House but found out that he was a Civil servant.
The discovery may have given them a clue on how to arrest him and drag him to Court to answer questions on the Kalu N2.9 billion case. But the agency officials were not lucky in tracking him as they were told on getting to the Abia government House that he had left the service, fueling speculations that it was a ploy to frustrate the trial .
But the agency may have saved Kalu from going to jail following a cross examination by the last star witness in the case, Chidi Chukwuka, a forensic expert. The witness was said to have told the Court that the Commission was not aware that former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a letter to George Bush ,a former President of the United States, US, over a $1.7 million potomac house which Kalu was said to have purchased in 2003. The $1.7 million was said to have been withdrawn from one of the Commercial banks in the country for the transaction.
The forensic expert may have provided ammunition for the EFCC to close the case against Kalu when he confirmed that the former governor as at the time he was being investigated had foreign accounts , noting that funds were moved from his Nigeria accounts to these, his offshore account in the US. The particular $1.7 million was said to have been withdrawn from Chase Manhatttan Bank, now JP Morgan to fund the potomac house project.
The striking out of the case against Kalu by the Commission may have encourage Rashidi Ladoja. a former governor of Oyo state who case to settle with the EFCC, that he was no worried by the case instituted against him in Court by the Commission over alleged misappropriation of state funds while in office between 2003 and 2007 .
The former Oyo state governor was said to have been dragged to Court by the Commission on the allegation that he instructed that about 1,6 billion worth of shares belonging to the state be sold at discounted rates without the approval of the state House of Assembly as the proceeds were said to entered into private pockets.
Ladoja would not want people believe that he would refund any money to the anti-graft agency, stressing that he did steal while in government. But the Commission confirmed that it had recovered part of the loot from other peopple in the state. It is not surprising why the aggrieved former Oyo state governor said ”there is no case there”.
Many believe that i Ladoja could stand his ground without double speaking , he may be allowed to go a free man by the Commission like Kalu, the former Abia governor.
While Ladoja is optimistic that the case would be closed for good like that of Kalu, Joshua Dariye, a former governor of Plateau state and Jolly Nyame, a Clergyman and also a former governor of Taraba state are already cooling their head in prisons for alleged fraud committed while in government.