- Category: DANIEL ELOMBAH
- Published on Saturday, 27 November 2010 12:14
- Written by Daniel Elombah
As the race towards the 2011 presidential election hots up, President Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday, took his detractors to task and challenged them on their level of commitment to the country.
In the bid to raise the bar of the presidential campaigns ahead of the primaries, President Jonathan, in a comment on his Facebook account, declared that he did not have bank accounts or properties abroad, and that all his children live and school in Nigeria.
While challenging his accusers to step forward and say the same, Jonathan said “I was loyal to my leader, the late great President Umaru Yar’Adua. I am loyal to Nigeria, I don’t claim to represent the North, the South or a committee - I represent Nigeria. I am loyal to Nigeria’s economy, I don’t have accounts or property abroad, all my children live and school in Nigeria. I am loyal to my wife and friends. Can those who accuse me say the same?”
By this statement, the President has raised the bar of the election campaign highlighting the following issues:
- Pan-Nigerian as against zoning and ethnic politics
- Commitment to the Nigeria project by having all your family and investments in Nigeria
- Belief in the Nigeria education sector by having your children attend Nigeria schools
To many observers, these are real issues that bother on integrity and commitment to the country, not so obscure to even one with glaucoma. Meanwhile the Nigeria Minister of State for Education has some of his children schooling in Ghana while his ministry is mismanaging the Education sector in Nigeria; most of the leaders in Nigeria have pouch and privates homes in Dubai, London, NY, Wash DC area and recently in China and South Africa, all derived from using relatives, friends, contracts to fake companies or fronts to loot public funds; I know many Senators, Representatives, Governors and other public officers whose families live in posh houses in London, Maryland, Dubai and New York while they administer the county. Isn’t that a poor way to manage a nation?
The Nigerian educational system had continued to suffer serious setback because political office holders and policy makers had given an impression that they had no confidence in the quality of the nation’s education – Over the years government has refused to invest in public schools and so the schools are in dire state.
The result is a downward spiral in our educational standards.
Allowing public officers to continue to send their children and wards to foreign schools would shield them from sharing in the “rottenness” of the nation’s education system. If our public officers want to send their wards to foreign schools they should quit and become private citizens.
In the United Kingdom any public official sending their wards to private schools attract public opprobrium. Currently Diane Abbot, MP for Hackney is under fire for sending their children to private schools despite giving her reason for doing so.
Moreover in the United Kingdom, you cannot vote or hold political office if you are a “non-dom”. Non-dom businessmen in the UK have their investments abroad and so avoid paying taxes.
In Brazil, there is presently a bill to be approved by latest January 1st 2014 by the Brazilian national assembly imploring children of all government officials to enrol and frequent public schools.
If Nigerian political holders do send their children and wards to Nigeria public schools, they will ensure they invest in these schools so their children get the best education.
I am strong advocate for a bill to be enacted by the National Assembly to make it compulsory for all political office holders to educate their children in public schools in Nigeria or else they quit and become private citizens.
It has also been observed, that the cause of severe underdevelopment of the nation is not simply cause by official corruption but that these corrupt officials stash their loot abroad!
It has also been observed that “the difference between Indonesia and Nigeria is that while the generals in Indonesia stole and invested in Indonesia, Nigeria's stole and put it in Swiss accounts”. The looting of the nation’s treasury is bad; worse is looting and taking the loot abroad for investment and enrichment of the receiving foreign country.
This is why Section three of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, Part 1, forbids the operation of a foreign account by a public officer.
The schedule reads: The President, Vice President, governor, Deputy Governor, Minister of the Government of the Federation and Commissioner of the governments of the states, members of the National and of the Houses of Assembly, and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribe, shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria.
In contrast to President Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria, has publicly admitted ownership of the Maryland property during his interview with a Nigerian journalist with ThisDay Newspapers, the vice president during that interview sought to downplay and minimize the import and consequences of these disclosures, by pretending and attempting to deflect questions as he arrogantly stated that “it was no big deal” as he added that he has owned a property in Maryland since 1994. The vice president, obviously engaged in disinformation, as he disingenuously want the public to believe that the property raided by the FBI in Maryland, was purchased in 1994, when in fact it was bought in year 2000!
The Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, raided this property while investigating one William Jefferson, an American, and a Congressman from the state of Louisiana, in connection with a $100,000 bribery scandal. This Jefferson guy has had contacts with Nigerian officials regarding privatization and possible participation by an American company in the telecommunication industry, and its interests in NITEL.
Atiku Abubakar was reported to have sold this Maryland property and relocated his properties to Dubai following a US Government indictment. Atiku Abubakar's mansion in Sorrel
The United States Senate Homeland Security panel indicted Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and fourth wife of the former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar. She reportedly helped her husband bring more than $40 million in suspect funds into the United States. Some $25 million of that money was wire-transferred by offshore corporations into more than 30 U.S. bank accounts opened by Douglas. Two offshore corporations transferred about $14 million over five years to American University in Washington, D.C., to pay for consulting services in setting up a university in Nigeria founded by Atiku Abubakar.
Sequel to this development, Atiku Abubakar received $2.2m bribe, his share of the $12.7million bribe payment that a German firm made to top government officials. A Munich court in 2007 found Siemens guilty of paying bribes to top Nigerian government officials in order to obtain four telecommunications projects, and fined the company $248million.
The other government officials named at the Munich court in the famous bribery scandal include Bello Mohammed, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Cornelius Adebayo and late Haruna Elewi, all former telecommunication ministers, and Jubril Aminu, a serving senator from Adamawa State.
Jennifer Douglas Jemila Abubakar
Like a Nigerian Commentator, Ken Asagwara said: If indeed President Jonathan holds no bank accounts or property abroad and his children live and school in Nigeria, then he has something good going for him in the political leadership of Nigeria.
“How many Nigerians in the Senate, House of Rep, Governors, and State Assembly members down to Local Government officials show the same example as President Jonathan?” he asked, and continued: “The looting of Nigeria’s and State treasuries with impunity by our political leaders is because the thieves hide their loots abroad where they cannot easily be traced. Also, can any of his accusers (political leaders) stealing our common patrimony assert as he did, that none of their children are schooling abroad”?
The President has just demonstrated that an exalted way of introducing issues that take over the barn. The list GEJ just put up is no ordinary list. It is a list of Integrity. Those with Nigeria in mind cannot be saying how much they love Nigeria but have investments wherever they really like.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must scramble to produce an answer to Jonathan’s challenge. Nigerian taxpayers and voters, certainly, are entitled to demand and expect precise explanations the extent of his investments abroad and where his children are going to school. Nigerians will need to know, if the man angling to be President Come 2011 has a cloud of misconduct, impropriety, a violation of ethics, a commission of illegalities or crime over his head? He cannot allow this odium to continue to swirl, he must address these charges!
Nigerians continue to write about “Atiku and the Potomac Maryland USA palaces...of Dubai hang outs and SA holiday spots”.
For a man who was for eight years Nigeria’s vice-president [1999-2007] and could yet be president if he wins again in 2011, Mr. Abubakar, political analysts say, is better off without this controversy hanging over his head.
Nigerians are also entitled to full material disclosures! Is Atiku Abubakar a fugitive from American justice? Can he today enter the United States without fear of arrest? Disclosures of all material facts, the former VP must provide sufficient facts, to either, exculpate self from these allegations otherwise, he should forget the loftier dream of becoming the president of Nigeria, ever!
President Goodluck Jonathan said: "I don't have accounts or property abroad, ALL my children live and school in Nigeria...Can those who accuse me say the same?"
By this upper-cut statement, the president has introduced vital issues into the campaign moving away from zoning and personality. Let the entire presidential aspirants tell us where their treasures and hearts are.
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, General Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Pat Utomi; all should be forthcoming on this challenge. Does any of them have any property abroad?
As one Nigerian Commentator, Nnanna Agomoh puts it; we are getting somewhere! We may after all not be going to the polls to waste time and money! These GEJ's quality claims should be used to determine which contestants are “safe" as they say in the "You-Think-You-Can-Dance?" program.
Other contestants should submit their own quality claims that will form the technical knockout and credit score. Prof. Attahiru Jega, INEC Chair, should now consider his job simplified. Meanwhile all other contestants must not harass the cyber space any more until they have answered this challenge. It can't getter better than this. Put them on the hot seat. No more generalizations.
While Atiku declares that "With total disregard for the stability of this fragile country, anti-zoning elements, in their desperation, resorted to a dangerous strategy of ethnic and religious politics to advance their selfish agenda”, the president, Goodluck Jonathan maintains that “the only difference that needed to be made in the country was between good and bad, not North and South”.
All presidential aspirants must move the debate away from zoning to issues that matter to the life of average Nigeria. How can Atiku claim to speak against ethnic politics why propagating zoning? Is zoning not extremely ethnic politics?
The issue is no longer zoning or ethnicity. Nebukadineze Adiele aptly wrote:
“We are no longer pulling ethnicity, folks. We are trying to salvage Nigeria, for she is all that we have as our country outside of our adopted countries in North America, Europe, or Asia. If we have gotten some education and have come to know what it takes to make things work, why should we resist implementing such knowledge into making Nigeria great? Why should we pull ethnicity or religiosity when we should be gunning for expertise?
“We shall continue to advocate what is best for Nigeria, while ignoring clannish and religious adherents. I am a proud Igbo man but on no account will I support an incompetent Igbo to become president of Nigeria over a competent non-Igbo. A Nigeria well run is more beneficial to my Igbo, so whoever will run Nigeria well, no matter his/her ethnic or religious affiliation is who I go with”.
Finally it is not enough for President Jonathan to declare that he has no investments abroad, what about his wife Patience? All Presidential aspirants should reveal the name of all their wife/wives, children etc, so that bank workers could tell when these come to wire funds abroad, and Nigerians abroad tell when these come frolicking in stashed properties abroad; this is the 21st century for goodness sake!
In the United States, Citizens know which school President Obama's children attend, same in other developed counties. We we also want to verify the schools President Jonathan's children attend?
Again, if President Jonathan’s claim is authenticated, he will join the ranks of former South African President Nelson Mandela who when he was in and out of office declared to the world and South Africans that he never had and still hold not foreign bank accounts or investment properties.
All other aspirants beware, If President Jonathan follows this up with some good economic platform with implementation strategies, time frames and monitoring process that if accomplished would transform Nigeria in the next decade, he would cement his position as the candidate to beat and may go on to be an exceptional rather than one of the mediocre leaders Nigeria has been unfortunate to have.