Those who were young (men-about-town) in the 80s will remember the 1979 hit track by McFadden & Whitehead, titled Ain't no stopping us now. The lyrics goes thus:
Ain't no stopping us now!
We're on the move!
Ain't no stopping us now!
We've got the groove!
And if you ponder and reflect on the political journey of President Muhammadu Buhari, right from 2003, when he threw his hat into the ring, till now, there have been spirited attempts to stop him. It got to a head in the build up to the 2019 elections, when a pernicious confederacy was put together, all to stop Nigeria's inexorable march to greatness. It failed, resoundingly.
On Wednesday, May 29, 2019, President Buhari will take oath for second term in office. Millions of good Nigerians will be delirious with joy, but some other significant minority would be in 'sifia' (severe) pains. Why? Ain't no stopping Muhammadu Buhari, he's on the move! The man will get his groove, and evildoers will be in trouble.
The combat between light and darkness, evil and good, has been an eternal one. Some people love darkness more than light, because it is under the cover of darkness that they thrive, luxuriating in their evil acts: grand larceny, plunder, killings, and others. So, they will never love the Mai Gaskiya (the honest man), and would do everything to stop him, or pull him down.
The efforts to stop Buhari have been robust, pulsating. After a reputation of honesty and probity as military governor, petroleum minister, member of the Supreme Military Council, his colleagues found no one better to wear the diadem as military head of state than the ramrod straight man from Daura. And he began to reset the foundations of Nigeria, knocking sense into the heads of the corrupt and those prone to indiscipline. It was no longer business as usual.
But the dream run lasted only 20 months, before they truncated it. The landlords of Nigeria struck, and stopped Buhari. Up in smoke went probity and accountability. Discipline flew out through the window. And we went back to a place worse than square one.
The man came back as a reformed democrat. He sought to be president in 2003, 2007, and 2011. But those in mortal fear of righteousness in high places banded together, and stopped him. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had perfected the art of elections manipulation, and they used it to the hilt.
However, in 2015, there ain't no more stopping Buhari. A massive coalition for change was built around him, and good Nigerians stood up for the champion. Did he live happily ever after? Not on your lives! The adversaries went after him. Ran, pursued, and attempted to overtake. All sorts of things, physical and spiritual, were thrown at him, just to get rid of the man who would not steal, and not allow people to steal.
A debilitating illness came. And for most of 2017, the President was receiving medical attention, both at home and abroad. Instead of goodwill and prayers, they were rejoicing. We've finally stopped him, they gloated. But did they? Could they? Not if God was still alive.
Ain't no stopping Buhari, as in August 2017, he got back his groove. His health rebounded, and he resumed work fully.
But would Pharaoh desist from pursuing Israel? No. He was destined to perish in a watery grave, so he pursued Israel into the sea. They formed what they called a coalition, vowing that they would stop Buhari from winning the 2019 elections. This was after letters had flown around from the master letter writer, virtually commanding the President to dismount from the horse. That letter writer thinks he's the landlord of Nigeria, as anybody he moved against never survived. He felt he could enthrone and dethrone leaders at will. But the Yoruba people say it's the day that the witch kills twins that she stops eating meat. The letter writer bit more than he could chew, and it stuck in his throat. He formed a political coalition, it collapsed right in his face. He first adopted a political party to use in his bid to unseat the incumbent, then in act of utter confusion, he abandoned that new party, and went for candidate of the PDP.
The same man he had spent the past 10 years destroying, writing volumes and volumes of verbiage against, he now attempted to sell to Nigerians. Were we fools?
See the grand conspiracy by those who called themselves 'Atikulators.' They included former presidents, some retired military top brass, disgruntled senior civil servants, business people, preachers, and the elite, generally. The sluice gates of free funds had been slammed shut, and they were unhappy. As dolorous as King Lear at his worst.
The letter writer mobilized the international community, feeding them with misinformation and disinformation. Fulanization. Islamization, and other creepy concoctions. He was already addressing the PDP candidate as "my incoming President." Oh, how so very easy to build castles in the air!
Marabouts, witches, wizards, and false prophets masquerading as pastors, bishops, and archbishops also joined the fray. They began to spew falsehood, which they attributed to God. He that sits in Heaven just laughed at them, and held them in utter derision.
All those who were on the wrong side of the law joined the conspiracy. Ex-this, ex-that, who had abused their offices, and were being made to answer questions, crept under the umbrella. They knew if their man won, their cases would die natural deaths. So, for them, it was a matter of life and death.
They came with spurious political permutations and calculations. Votes in North-west and North-east would be shared. They would sweep North-central, where they had spent the last two years trying to demonize and de-market Buhari and his political party. South-west would also be shared, and then, they would win South-east and South-south wholesale. It seemed foolproof on paper, particularly when you also throw in massive vote buying, hacking of all the hackables, and a complicit judiciary as Plan B. They were already planning how to sell Nigeria, and tell the poor to go to hell.
But they didn't reckon with the staying power of the poor and the downtrodden. They are people who know where their bread would be buttered, and where their future happiness lay. In their millions, they trooped out to vote for the honest man. They chose light, instead of darkness. At the end of it all, about four million votes separated the men from the boys.
The man left holding the short end of the stick went to court, claiming some servers from George Orwell's sugar candy mountain, gave him victory. It's within his democratic rights. Ain't no stopping Buhari now, he's on the move!
In recent weeks, banditry, killings, murder and mayhem have suffused the length and breadth of the country. Everything appears orchestrated, choreographed, to achieve certain ends. The law enforcement agencies are pointing fingers in certain directions. But Nigerians want them to do more. Pull in the evildoers, and let them face the law. That is what President Buhari tells them at each Security Council meeting, too. And we will get there. Soon and very soon, because we've got the groove. When the ram runs, its testicles dangle furiously from side to side. But no matter what, the testicles can never fall off. Nigeria will remain united, despite all machinations of the evil ones.
In that song by McFadden & Whitehead, you have these lines:
There's been so many things that's held us down,
But now it looks like things are finally comin' round.
Yes. Things are coming round for Nigeria. We will get to where we are headed. Our fair havens, land flowing with milk and honey. The crooked and corrupt won't ever stop us, nor would they rule us again, and the wealth of Nigeria will be used for the good of Nigerians. Ain't no stopping us now, we're on the move!
By FEMI ADESINA, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity
In The Spotlight
The ongoing controversy surrounding Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over an alleged strained relationship between him and President Muhammadu Buhari, took a dramatic turn yesterday when Osinbajo in a statement declared his readiness to waive his constitutional immunity to “enable the most robust adjudication” of several baseless allegations, insinuation, and falsehoods against his person and office.
Last week, Buhari set up an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) which, according to a statement from by his media aide, was to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Osinbajo with directives that members of the newly created body would report directly to the president. The decision, which was given several interpretations, suggested that Buhari in collaboration with the cabal in Aso Rock have made up their mind to frustrate the vice president or force him to resign.
Osinbajo has also recently been accused of mismanaging N90 billion, being funds allegedly provided by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for the prosecution of the general elections. But Osinbajo, in a tweet he personally tweeted and made available to the media by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said: “In the past few days, a spate of reckless and malicious falsehoods have been peddled in the media against me by a group of malicious individuals.
“The defamatory and misleading assertions invented by this clique had mostly been making the social media rounds anonymously. I have today instructed the commencement of legal action against two individuals, one Timi Frank, and another Katch Ononuju, who have put their names to these odious falsehoods. I will waive my constitutional immunity to enable the most robust adjudication of these claims of libel and malicious falsehood.”
However, Osinbajo’s plan to waive his immunity is generating mixed reactions, with some Nigerians questioning the legality and constitutionality of such an action. The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, fired the first salvo, saying the vice president does not have the capacity as an individual to waive his immunity.
In another reaction, a former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh, who is also a lawyer, said the vice president has no constitutional right to waive his immunity as far as Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution is concerned. According to Momoh, “Osinbajo has no right to waive his immunity except he resigns from office or if he is impeached. My advice to him is to allow those who made the allegation to go and prove their case in the court. As a public officer and politician, he should develop a thick skin to accommodate all forms of criticism.”
A professor of History and Strategic Studies, Ayodeji Olukoju, opined that even though the constitution does not allow the vice president to waive his immunity, “if the man feels strongly to defend his integrity, he should be given the opportunity.”
But sharing a different opinion, factional chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Mr. Fouad Oki, said it is within the ambit of Osinbajo to waive his immunity if he feels strongly that his name and integrity are at stake. “Since Osinbajo is a beneficiary of the immunity clause, he also has the right to waive it to prove his integrity.”
Osinbajo’s travails might not be unconnected with the struggle for power among southwest political gladiators ahead of the 2023 elections. The rising profile of the vice president and his acceptability in the north in recent times is said to be creating confusion in some camps that have vowed to bring him down. Nothing exposes the fact that Osinbajo is not a politician than the recent decision to announce his resolve or preparedness to waive the constitutional immunity conferred on his office in a bid to regain his credibility in the face of allegations of purloining campaign funds.
As a lawyer and pastor, Osinbajo seems not to have come to terms with the knife fights in Nigerian politics. As such, by joining issues with those who flew the kite about his current travails with the famed presidency cabal on the claim of unaccounted campaign fund deployment, he fell into an ambush. Despite the alleged imbalance in the use of the campaign fund believed to be from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the vice president should have known better that as sociologists say, scandal improves by refutation.
But jumping the gun to extricate himself from the messy tales, the law professor will be surprised by other details that have been making the rounds in hushed tones. Now having been boxed into a corner, the vice president will begin to confront his travails all alone because Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who should have taken up the fight, allegedly has some misgivings about him too, and Tinubu is widely believed in certain quarters as being the brain behind the ambush of Osinbajo.
It is alleged that Osinbajo, at the height of his efforts to distance his political progression from Tinubu, claimed at one point, “somebody somewhere nominated me as running mate to Buhari.” Apart from that, sources said it was allegedly the vice president’s covert plot to use the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) as a possible platform for his 2023 presidential ambition that threw some ice on his relationship with the former Lagos State governor.
While the vice president was said to have worked in cahoots with the very cabal that is currently going for his jugular to ensure that ANN was put beyond Mr. Gbenga Olawepo, Tinubu was informed about that scheme. Moreover, the fact that the sum of N500 million was allegedly moved into ANN’s account from the presidency to engineer the quiet takeover of the party, seemed to have convinced Tinubu that the vice president was not being frank to him.
In his home state of Ogun, at the peak of the supremacy battle between former governors Ibikunle Amosun and Segun Osoba, Osinbajo was said to have adopted the ostrich style by refusing to back Osoba or Amosun. But while he was adopting the non-aligned posture in the southwest caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osinbajo was made to walk a tight rope in the presidency.
Sitting at the head of the committee that investigated former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, the vice president refused to use “the eyes of an elder” to view the case against Buhari’s Adamawa-born ally. Although the indictment of former Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, was meant to uphold Osinbajo’s impartiality, at the end of the day, the cabal reportedly held the fall of Babachir against him.
Again, the duo of Chief of Staff Abba Kyari and Babagana Monguno were said not to be impressed with the way Osinbajo capitulated to the intrigues in the Adamawa chapter of APC, which led to the fall of Babachir. Yet, the insistence of the vice president on retaining Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was said to have convinced Buhari’s inner men that Osinbajo wants to measure strength with them.
To make matters worse, the speed with which the vice president pushed through the sack of a former past Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, was said to have compelled the cabal to move against the pastor. Relieved of his position in the DSS, Daura was said to have invested his time digging into various departments and agencies under the vice president, especially all dealings that had to do with money. Having come to the conclusion that Osinbajo’s continued stay in office could jeopardise their plans to execute a mutually beneficial succession plan in 2023, the cabal allegedly decided to unleash their well-orchestrated plan of diminishing his clout and possibly engineering his resignation from office.
It all started with a seemingly innocuous internal memo to the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, seeking clarifications over a shortfall in internally- generated revenue. Then came the howler from Comrade Timi Frank, which claimed that the unfolding travails of the vice president were traceable to the sum of N90 billion from FIRS, which Osinbajo could allegedly not account for.
Meanwhile, The Vanguard yesterday issued an apology on its FIRS story. It said: “On our website publication of Monday, September 23, 2019, we published a story titled “N 90 Bn FIRS Election Fund: Osinbajo’s problem, not 2023 politics.” We have since discovered that the story lacks factual substance and we hereby retract it in its entirety. We tender our profound apology to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on whom the story touches directly, the All Progressives Congress, and the FIRS for any inconvenience or embarrassment the publication has occasioned them. We hold Prof. Osinbajo in the highest esteem.”
In other reactions by legal minds on Osinbajo’s willingness to waive his immunity, the simple answer is no. It will take a very creative interpretation of the constitution for him to ascribe and waive immunity, since immunity does not stop the investigation. It only stops the prosecution. He cannot waive his immunity. There is no constitutional provision for this under the CFRN 1999. If he is so serious and insistent, then he can resign his position and be subjected to prosecution. There are no precedents for such waiver.