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Soyinka accuses Obasanjo of buying votes

Posted by By MURPHY GANAGANA and UBONG UKPONG, Abuja on 2006/08/23 | Views: 840 |

Soyinka accuses Obasanjo of buying votes


Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has taken President Olusegun Obasanjo to the cleaners on his anti-corruption crusade, accusing him of buying votes in the 2003 presidential polls, just as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, dismissed prevailing agitations for zoning of the presidency as undemocratic.

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has taken President Olusegun Obasanjo to the cleaners on his anti-corruption crusade, accusing him of buying votes in the 2003 presidential polls, just as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, dismissed prevailing agitations for zoning of the presidency as undemocratic.

Soyinka and Masari spoke in Abuja, even as President Obasanjo dropped hint of plans to confer more powers on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), towards checkmating corrupt past leaders from returning to power in 2007.

Speaking Tuesday in Abuja, at the 5th National Seminar on Economic Crime organised by the EFCC, Soyinka urged President Obasanjo to rid the country of symbols of corruption, which, he said, were currently still deep-rooted despite the president’s claims to fighting corruption.

"He (Obasanjo) was selected in 1999. In fact, he bought votes, and we are talking about anti-corruption. The truth is that we must remove the culture of corruption and non-accountability. Now, what that means is that we are repudiating the past, we are repudiating certain figures in past leaderships who have solidified innate cells, to tell people that we are the best," Soyinka said, adding: "It is wrong to say that the current President did not engage in money politics. He was not elected. He was selected and re-selected by his party and we are still contesting the result of his 2003 re-selection."

Taking a swipe at members of the National Assembly for being pre-occupied with how to amass wealth through ridiculous allowances on assumption of office, the Nobel Laureate called on political office holders to halt the culture of seeking entitlements.

He said, "immediately they assumed office, they started voting money for their office furniture, domestic, and even toilet furniture, allowances for their drivers, cooks, and even relations. If you have volunteered to be in public service, there shouldn’t be culture of entitlement," Soyinka emphasized.

Assuring the EFCC of his support in the fight against corruption, Soyinka urged President Obasanjo to rid the nation of all symbols of corruption, especially those that remind the citizenry of corrupt past leaders. "We‘ve had many corrupt leaders in this nation. Corrupt leadership invariably had been the manifestation of governance in this country.

"An instance is the late General Sani Abacha. Up till now, everybody is scrambling to try and get together all the loot that he shifted out of this country. Even the current president had appealed to me more than once to try and assist in getting back some of the loot that Sani Abacha stashed away. And even at that, what struck me is that some monuments are still named after the former leader. People will take us as unserious.

"If we are still fronting the symbols of corruption, we are not talking about the brutalities, the tortures, and political killings. I am talking about something that pre-occupies us today, and that is corruption," Soyinka stressed.

Also speaking on the occasion, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari, urged politicians and Nigerians to de-emphasise zoning of political offices, especially the presidency, contending that it would work against the emergence of a candidate with the requisite leadership qualities.
"Emphasis should be placed on the ingredients of what makes a good leader. Identify any good person in the country to be the president, not a regional or zonal president," Masari admonished, adding that leadership is the state of the mind and responsibility of the leader, not his age or region.

In his remarks, EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, expressed fears over the sustenance of the present anti-corruption crusade after Obasanjo’s exit in 2007, saying that the gains so far recorded by the present administration stood the risk of being eroded if mistakes were made in the choice of leaders next year.

Ribadu said: "Nigeria is approaching an election year in 2007 and we want to join other well meaning Nigerians in placing on the front burner of discourse, the quality of leadership we desire and expect, and we should and must get. Secondly, and as a corollary to the first, is how the fight against corruption by this administration will be sustained in the post 2007 era.

"The combination of these two related issues will define the future of democracy, the rule of law, and development in our country. The gains recorded by Mr. President and his administration, which have been internationally recognised, stand the risk of being eroded if mistakes are made with the choice of our leaders in the 2007 elections," he cautioned.

Disclosing that the EFCC had recorded unprecedented 84 convictions in less than two years, Ribadu warned that the coming months and years would be very tough. "We shall proceed henceforth, in the firm belief that our support is across board. We are confident that we shall prevail over the enemy," he said.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.