Northern Political Leaders Forum at Work
Shhhhhhhhh! Silence please! No Loitering Adamu Ciroma: Gentlemen, sanu da zuwa. We are firmly behind closed doors. Please, speak freely. You all know why we are gathered here today. You all know that we failed in our attempt to bring down the renegade Goodluck Jonathan after the Abuja bomb blasts on October 1, 2010. Enemies of the north stood between us and victory by claiming that we did not ask our late brother, Umaru Yar'Adua, to resign after Boko Haram. That Ijaw fellow and his handlers turned the table against us with that argument. The man does not even respect his elders in the Oligarchy anymore. We consequently deemed it necessary to present a united northern front against him in the race for the presidential ticket of our great party, the largest party in Africa. We are fortunate that all our presidential hopefuls agreed to present themselves before us for the onerous vetting process. We are particularly pleased to have had four heavyweights come before us: His Excellency General Ibrahim Babangida, His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, General Aliyu Gusau, and His Excellency Alhaji Dr Bukola Saraki. Now that we have heard from all these illustrious leaders of the north, may I please invite our able secretary to remind us all of the evaluation criteria and benchmarks that we have established to guide our decision at this momentous juncture in the history of Nigeria.
Forum Secretary: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, as Mallam Adamu has said, we are all on the threshold of destiny. Ours is the generation that must rediscover the north's Manifest Destiny and either fulfil or betray it. We have chosen to fulfil that mission in response to the urgent call of history. Today, one MEND apologist, who doesn't know the meaning of extant agreements, stands between us and our Manifest Destiny. He must be stopped. To help us arrive at a consensus candidate after interviewing our four illustrious leaders, we have evolved a grading system based on the CCI rating of each candidate. Chieftain 1: CCI rating? Forum Secretary: Yes, CCI rating. Please open the folders before you and go to Appendix 1a, subsection 2b. That is where we have a glossary of acronyms in our workbook. CCI rating stands for Corruption and Criminality Index rating. Our goal is to determine the candidate with the least CCI rating on a scale of one to ten.
Our system is a little like the credit rating system in Europe and America where people have good and bad credit. But there are certain provisos we have designed to reflect the Nigerian factor. Chieftain 2: What are the provisos? Forum Secretary: Thank you. First, the grading system works in descending order towards excellence. For instance, the candidate with the most ample crime and corruption portfolio scores a maximum of ten points while the candidate with the most negligible crime and corruption portfolio scores one point.
Theoretically, a clean candidate with no corruption and crime portfolio should score zero and emerge as our consensus candidate. This is where Nigeria comes in, hence the need for the following provisos based on our assessment of the political history of Nigeria. In grading the candidates, please be advised that:
1)Nigeria has never had a President with a CCI rating of less than 5
2)Nigerians erroneously believe that two of our illustrious party heavyweights, Generals Obasanjo and Babangida, ruled Nigeria with respective CCI ratings of the maximum 10 points
3)There is no reason to believe that Nigeria will be ruled by a leader with a CCI rating of less than 5 points in the foreseeable future. That is why Chief Gani Fawehinmi never stood a chance. General Buhari, Pat Utomi, Dele Momodu, and Nuhu Ribadu do not have CCI portfolios worthy of making them serious contenders for the Nigerian presidency. They are just noise makers.
4)Our goal, therefore, is not to select a candidate with a CCI rating of less than
5. That would never be a viable option for the presidency of Nigeria. At the same time, we must debate whether we want to go all the way to a CCI rating of ten. By the time anybody has a CCI rating of
7, he is already known nationally and internationally as corrupt and criminal, fairly or unfairly. In other words, we are looking for the least corrupt of our four candidates who must not fall below 5 on the CCI scale in order to remain viable but must also not burst the scale at the other end.
Stakeholder 1: Just a minute, Mr Secretary, thanks for your wonderful presentation thus far. I have a quick question before you continue. Do we have any intelligence dossier on Goodluck Jonathan? We need to know what he has been up to on the corruption and criminality front. Obviously, we cannot use the Nigerian intelligence services to gather serviceable dirt on him. But the Saudis and the Libyans may be willing to help us. They have vested interest in a northern presidency.
Stakeholder 2: What do we need to gather stuff on Jonathan for?
Stakeholder 1: Haba, Alhaji, isn't that obvious? If we are able to accurately determine his CCI rating, wallahi, we can select a candidate with a better CCI rating. Adamu Ciroma: Indeed, our brothers in Riyadh and Tripoli should be able to help us gather dirt on him. The problem with Jonathan is that he snored his way from Deputy Governor to Governor and President via Vice President. Because he is so boring and invisible even as President, it is very difficult to determine how much he has stolen thus far. He is very wise. His bowler hats are all the same exact colour.
That way, you can't even accuse him of embezzling money to buy too many bowler hats. He can always claim that he has only one since they all look alike. We could try to use the asset he reluctantly declared as Vice President but that is chicken feed in the nature of things in Nigeria. Only a couple of billions he gathered on the way from Deputy Governor to Governor. That cannot give him a CCI rating of more than 3. And all our own candidates are certainly above
5. You see the problem now?
Chieftain 1: What about that little matter of his wife and the EFCC? Isn't she an alleged money launderer? Doesn't she have an EFCC case file? We should be able to use that to raise his CCI. Adamu Ciroma: I thought of that, Alhaji. May Allah punish that foolish Ribadu fellow. He has ruined that fantastic opportunity for us. Aren't you aware that in order to prevent Jonathan from sending Waziri after him the way Obasanjo sent him after political irritants, Ribadu has gone around the country denying that he ever indicted Patience Jonathan even with the case file available online? If we try to press that angle, Ribadu will rush to grant media interviews and swear on the Koran that he heard the name, Patience Jonathan, for the first time in his life only after she became the First Lady of Nigeria.
Chieftain 2: How about Jonathan's refusal to look into Halliburton and Siemens? Can we use that against him somehow? Adamu Ciroma: Halliburton and Siemens?
Chieftain 2: Yes, now, Alhaji. I am talking about the bribery scandal and President Jonathan's refusal to... Adamu Ciroma: Is anybody in this room aware of any Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandal? Personally, I have never heard of Halliburton and Siemens. Stakeholder 1: No, we are not aware of Halliburton and Siemens. Adamu Ciroma: Did you hear that? The NPLF is not aware of any Halliburton and Siemens scandal. All our candidates are men of integrity.
Chieftain 2: Ah, I get it. I am not aware of any Halliburton and Siemens bribery scandal. Forum Secretary: All protocols observed, may I suggest that hold off this debate on how to raise the CCI rating of Goodluck Jonathan and focus on our own contestants? We can consider individual cases and see where they stand on the CCI rating. Let's start with General Babangida. What do you all think of his CCI portfolio and how do we rank him?
Stakeholder 2: Well, although like everybody here, I do not believe any of the stories out there about him, we have to take public perception into consideration as we rank him since it goes into his overall acceptability. Nigerians say that the $ 12.5 billion Gulf War oil windfall disappeared under him.
Stakeholder 1: They also say that he is responsible for Dele Giwa and the Ejigbo plane crash Chieftain 1: Some say that he institutionalized corruption, introduced SAP, and murdered Maman Vatsa. Chieftain 2: Others say that he annulled June 12, and cleared the road for Abacha and the eventual murder of MKO Abiola.
Stakeholder 2: There is also the hilltop mansion. Too many questions about where the money came from. Forum Secretary: Looks like we'll have to give the General a 10. All in favour say yea. All: Yea. Forum Secretary: Now to His Excellency Alhaji Dr Bukola Saraki. Adamu Ciroma: In the eyes of Nigerians, the Saraki name alone and their history in Kwara state already give him 5 points for starters.
Chieftain 1: Add two points for SociÃ©tÃ© GÃ©nÃ©rale bank. I'm not sure they have even paid Jay Jay Okocha's money.
Chieftain 2: Add another point for the repeated scandals of the Governor's Forum that he leads. The forum is very unpopular with Nigerians. Adamu Ciroma: And he is still a small boy. He cannot stand up to the apparatus of state under Jonathan. He should perhaps consider the Senate. Baba Oloye, his father, can swap him very easily with his sister. Forum Secretary: That gives him 8 points. All in favour say yea. All: Yea! Forum Secretary: Now to General Gusau.
Stakeholder 1: Well, the General has been around for too long and has served too many governments. That makes him an AGIP - Any Government in Power. Nigerians always frown on AGIPs. They tend to pour all the deficits of all the governments they served on them.
Stakeholder 2: I agree. Let's give him a ten. Forum Secretary: All in favour say yea. All: Yea! Forum Secretary: Now to Alhaji Atiku.
Chieftain 1: Atiku is an interesting case. Although he is a multi-billionaire who made his billions the Nigerian way, technically, he is not corrupt. He is not corrupt in Nigeria.
Chieftain 2: How so, Alhaji?
Chieftain 1: Well, Obasanjo brought case after case of corruption against him in court but he was somehow able to crush the General in all those cases. The courts kept clearing him. So, there is a point to be made that he is not corrupt in the eyes of Nigerian law despite public perception of him. The only surviving onshore matter of apparent corruption against him is the case of that bank loan that he said he forgot to pay. And it was the bank that even opened the account in his name to thank him for attending the opening ceremony of a branch. His only crime here is that he spent all one hundred and eleven million naira that the bank put in the account and forgot all about it until the list of failed bank debtors was released last year. That is an episodic case of memory loss. We have pockets of cases like that in our political landscape.
Chieftain 2: Wonderful! Wonderful! Technically, this means that Atiku has only one onshore corruption issue and one offshore corruption case - the money laundering thing in America. That makes him the best not-totally-corrupt candidate we have. I say we give him a 5 on the CCI rating. Forum Secretary: All in favour of 5 points for Atiku say yea. All: yea! Adamu Ciroma: Looks like we have a consensus candidate! Forum Secretary: Yes, Mallam, our process has just produced the least-technically-corrupt of our top four contenders: General Bagangida - 10 points on the CCI scale
Alhaji Aliyu Gusau - 10 points on the CCI scale
Alhaji Bukola Saraki - 8 points on the CCI scale
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar - 5 points on the CCI scale By virtue of the powers conferred on me by the Northern Leaders Political Forum, I hereby pronounce Alhaji Atiku Abubakar the consensus candidate of the north to run against Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential primaries of our great party. Adamu Ciroma: Gentlemen, this is a great day in the history of the north. We thank Allah for doing us this great honour by making us major actors in the course of history. I thank you all for your sacrifice and commitment to this exercise. Tomorrow, our able secretary will convene a press conference to announce our choice to Nigerians. Gentlemen, we have work to do going to the primaries. We need to convince Nigerians and our party's membership that Goodluck Jonathan is far more corrupt than our consensus candidate. It is not going to be easy because he is invisible and has no presence even as President. Sometimes I don't even know that he is there. They say he comes alive only on Facebook. We need to continue to work on strategies to raise his CCI rating. Our target should be to get him to 9 or 10 points before the primaries. Luckily, Atiku is no longer in government. He has no access to state funds and is therefore not likely to rise above his current 5 points unless, Allah forbid, our enemies dig up something new on him that may have happened during his spell as Vice President. Gentlemen, let's go to work on Jonathan's corruption profile!
By Pius Adesanmi